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    Missile Defense

Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI all over again?

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rshowalter - 01:30pm Mar 9, 2001 EST (#893 of 903) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

All concerned ought to be able to do MUCH better than we're doing.

It should also be possible, without too much courage, for us to keep from continuing the wrenchingly dangerous technical mistakes, involving our nuclear weapons and controls, which, if nothing is done, WILL in my opinion probably destroy the world.

American forces are as good as they are - and as predominant as they are -- and as an American citizen, considering the conventional forces, I'm not unhappy --- I wish these conventional forces were militarily much better, as a matter of fact.

But there are severe limits to what can be done with military power -- and the US is being clobbered, humiliated, charged unfairly, and made ridiculous in all sorts of ways (even as our actions disserve the rest of the world) because we try to use military force where it doesn't work.

Nuclear force is essentially always unusable (and a menace and a corrupting influence in other ways.)

There are big limits to what you can do with conventional forces, too. President Bush and many of his advisors know them, and so do American officers.

But our military forces, well used, and in coordination with the forces of other nations, some of them "enemies" in other ways, CAN, with diplomacy, do a servicible job of stepping away from world destruction. -- We CAN make the use of nuclear weapons unlikely - a risk, at worst, not greater than the risk mankind faces from reasonably frequent natural disasters.

We don't have any viable choice, but to do so.

almarstel2001 - 02:53pm Mar 9, 2001 EST (#894 of 903)

rshowalter 3/9/01 1:30pm

As long as some countries are villing to enforce their will on others using the military force - and US is one of the first among them, there will be need for a small country to defend itself against overhelming US conventional power. It is up to US and other great powers to demonstrate their absolute rejection of all military means against others except for the pure self-defence. Untill then, how can we blaim others who not only have to fight the terrorists (frequently armed and supported by those great powers and again, primerely US), they also have to defend themselv against those same powers commiting the open aggression like we have seen in Yugoslavia.

What option do they have other then capitulation before US pressure or having the Nukes to prevent such aggression?

lunarchick - 04:21pm Mar 9, 2001 EST (#895 of 903)

[note: character space link = hot link]

rshowalter - 04:23pm Mar 9, 2001 EST (#896 of 903) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

almarstel2001 , you're right that there will always be a need for a small country to defend itself.

All nation states have to be able to defend themselves, and all have reason to be afraid. That includes the United States.

That won't change.

But we can arrange our individual and national lives so that our inescapable and necessary fears are proportionate, and can be well dealt with.

And so that our inescapable and necessary needs to make others reasonably afraid of us are proportionate, and well dealt with, also.

Let me say some philosophical things, and then take a little time to get down to nuts and bolts of what can reasonably done, for the real nation states in the world as it is, from where they are, now. Because we need to do better than we're doing, and it can only happen step by step. The steps have to involve things that people can actually do, as they are, from where they are. The steps have to involve things that the people involved, considering everything, can actually be persuaded to do.

rshowalter - 04:25pm Mar 9, 2001 EST (#897 of 903) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Here is a core point.

Anybody who asks human animals to be "free from fear" is delusional. There is much too much of this sort of delusion in the world -- and it builds up dangerous webs of lies, and sets up escalatory sequences that are insanely dangerous, and doomed to failure.

There is a lot of that kind of delusion in the world.

The average American voter now seems to believe that he can only be safe if his country is capable of scaring the wits out of all other individuals and nation states. President Bush's followers sometimes seem to think that.

Other people in other nations think similar things.

It makes the world much, much uglier than it needs to be.

The escalation of threat has led to our current nuclear impasse, which I believe will destroy the world if we don't get nuclear weapons, world wide, under far better control than they are now. Prohibition of nuclear weapons is the ideal. The US has been committed to that ideal by treaty for a long time.

Life is complicated, we are human beings, and human beings are both very vulnerable animals, and very dangerous animals.

Individuals and nations make mistakes when they imagine that they are helpless, or permit themselves to be.

And individuals and nations make mistakes when they imagine that they are all-powerful and invicible. No person ever is. No nation ever is, either.

Individuals and nations also make mistakes when they over-threaten each other -- both for logical reasons, and because, as a matter of biological fact, human beings, threatened enough, tend to fight to the death. Since people are as dangerous as they are, that isn't what the threatening person or nation can reasonably intend.

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