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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 - 01:29pm Mar 15, 2001 EST (#1027 of 1029) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

There may be a major intellectual-moral-reflexive problem. By and large, Americans don't seem to feel that "conspiracy" explanations are interesting, or explanatory. Conspiracies are somehow "not worth thinking about." Large impersonal forces, and "no fault" explanations seem more believable.

The Russians, and many other people, on the other hand, tend to think of conspiracies first , and tend to discount "no fault" explanations as cover-ups.

Communication, both ways, would be facilitated if the possibilities could be considered as "theories" that could be matched to facts, with the establishing of key facts morally forcing.

Both the

"conspiracy explanation template"

and the

"no fault - complex of forces template"

can, with a relaxed enough view of facts, fit a very wide range of circumstances - including circumstances that the general pattern of the template basically fits, and circumstances that the general pattern of the template does not fit.

With more willingness, on both sides, to match both templates to the facts, and see which happen to work in which cases, we might have a better chance of solving problems (and, in the detective's sense, solving crimes) in the world.

Right explanations are, usually, both safer and more comfortable than wrong ones. In a world where we cannot predict the future, and so must o make decisions on new challenges based on what we know, lies and misunderstandings can be expensive or catastrophic in unpredictable ways. The truth is much safer.

Both we, and the Russians, would be safer, and we'd understand each other better, if we each could use the others "dominant explanatory template" for the circumstances where it happened to fit. That would apply to all other nations, too, I believe.

rshowalter - 01:43pm Mar 15, 2001 EST (#1028 of 1029) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

For example, one can reasonably ask why on earth the world still has large nuclear weapon deployments -- huge deployments? In 1994, the Center for Defense Information , a mainstream group, did a closely argued documentary program, with distinguised guests, and important quotes from our current Secretary of State, Colin Powell.

"DOES THE UNITED STATES NEED NUCLEAR WEAPONS?" Featured two retired admirals, two former directors of CIA, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense, and several main stream academics and analysts

It starts as follows:

NARRATOR: During the Cold War, Americans were bombarded with images of the Soviet threat. Nuclear weapons were considered the bulwark of America's defense. The United States spent more than one trillion dollars to build and deliver nuclear weapons. The goal was to discourage a Soviet attack or, failing that, to destroy the Soviet Union. Then, our enemy disappeared. The Soviet Union crumbled. The Warsaw Pact collapsed. Our former enemies are now recipients of US aid.

" In view of these tremendous changes, some people are asking: Does the United States Need Nuclear Weapons?"

There seemed little justification for these weapons in 1994. The people in charge of launching them wanted them down then, as they do now. Yet now, many years later, we are moving into a new arms race. On the basis of technical and political "facts" that the administration seems unable to explain in public. "Facts" that even seem to be insanely out of line when they are checked. (For instance, NO ONE has a coherent and decently complete technical argument that AMD can work at all, under field conditions.)

The possibility of corruption and fraud as part of the explanation for what has happened, ought to be carefully considered. Now, Americans, including american new operations, are afraid of considering such explanations. That now seems very likely to be a systematic and dangerous mistake.

rshowalter - 01:45pm Mar 15, 2001 EST (#1029 of 1029) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Facts need to be collected and presented coherently. Persuasively enough so that perceptual barriers are breached.

That can take a lot of staff work. But considering the stakes, the work seems more than justified. Life depends on it.

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