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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 - 01:14pm Mar 22, 2001 EST (#1314 of 1327) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

The problems Solzenietsyn had here bother me a good deal more.

When people can't communicate, the tendency is to dehumanize each other.

  • ******

    I've already suggested a journalistic exercise, and I can reference the postings that refer to these things again.

    Just now, let me ask this.

    . How many times have Russian staff people, around NY or DC, tried to discuss "little things" only tangentially connected with peace and war, with knowledgeable Americans, where there were clear differences?

    For example, talking with authors of books, not just about things that were positive, but also about ways the books did not make sense, or seemed distorted or seemed strange, in russian eyes?

    I think a lot might be learned, on both sides, about the mechanics of peaceful and productive conversation. Especially if the negatives were frankly, clearly discussed.

    If a CIA officer was invited to the conversations, that would be fine !

    I think many, if not most, of the communication problems that are chronic between our two very different cultures could be ironed out in that way but it would be essential to talk about differences without apology, and clearly, not just about sympathies.

    Let me list some books I've thought about today -- too many for you to read, but if each was read by another person, who talked to you for five minutes about it, you might learn essential things, and get contacts with essential logical-social patterns. I haven't finished typing the list.

    But they are all hard books for Russians. And if Russians had good communications with ten of these authors (and therefore, if sympathy was real, with people they knew) some fundamental "secrets" of our cultures would be "penetrated" from each sides point of view.

    rshowalter - 01:24pm Mar 22, 2001 EST (#1315 of 1327) Delete Message
    Robert Showalter

    While I'm typing, I have a question for you. Not for you to answer, but to think about. I made a proposal in #266-269, this thread. Only an outline -- not enough for action. rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am

    If you needed to tell a journalist, in specific detail, about your objections to such a proposal, and about the things it would have to include in addition to those stated, could you?

    I'm not asking for a statement - but would like you to think about whether you could, and if you couldn't, what you would need to do so.

    almarst-2001 - 01:25pm Mar 22, 2001 EST (#1316 of 1327)

    "For mutual respect and trust, there will have to be some learning about "how to talk" that accepts differences. "

    The differences may be accepted much easier if is seen as rational and consistent. I may disagree but accept and respect a different point of view if I see consistency, particularelly supported by actions.

    "Except for the conspiracy aspects of the military-industrial complex (perhaps "conspiracy of silence"aspects) controlled by very few people, I do not believe Americans have ANY reason to resist such an outcome."

    Do you believe people like Mr. Wolfowitz have any DIRECT interests in military-industrial establishement? What do you think the reason for his inclusion in Bush's decision-making team?

    rshowalter - 01:39pm Mar 22, 2001 EST (#1317 of 1327) Delete Message
    Robert Showalter

    Are you familiar with linear programming? It is used for optimization under complex systems of linear constraint, and both Russian and American managers use it well. One defines a "hyperspace" set out in terms of "planes" in a decision space --- and it always turns out that the "optimal" solution, for linear problems, happens at a corner - where some things are maximized, others 0. Academics, because of the way they are paid, often go for extreme positions, too. And "extremists" of a thousand sorts find ways of getting paid in the academy.

    Especially if they are sponsored by people who will support them.

    Now, Wofowitz may have entirely direct interests in the military industrial establishment in all the ways that could matter for an academic.

    You aren't religious, but perhaps you've heard of a strategy that clergymen sometimes use when they are in competition of some kind. Americans use the expression:

    Holier than thou .

    A kind of "one-upsmanship." In areas where checking to reality is nonexistent or weak there is a lot of this.

    Some academics, in such fields, seem to compete to find ways to make Russians look more and more threatening -- less and less sympathetic as people.

    Some of Condaleeza Rice's work looks like that, when I took a quick glance.

    The key question becomes how do you check match of what is said to reality?

    Unless the checking is done, you may find "intellectuals" saying anything at all, and even believing it.

    rshowalter - 02:02pm Mar 22, 2001 EST (#1318 of 1327) Delete Message
    Robert Showalter

    Here are two books related to Soviet matters, both of which got Pulitzer Prizes, and very high praise. They both, I think, must seem radically incomplete, and must seem strange, and inappropriately balanced, in Russian eyes.

    If Russians could discuss both good things and shortcomings of thes books with these authors, from an uncompromising and unashamed RUSSIAN perspective, that made clear how Russian and American views are DIFFERENT, that would develop and prove skills in discussion across our cultures that are now often lacking. Deference would not be useful. If Remnick or Rosenberg seemed "wrong-headed" they might be so in interesting ways.

    I'm not suggesting a "intellectual war" here -- but a little "controlled, unapologetic disagreement" might be in order. This would only work if the authors were working for free - as a matter of intellectual interest. The books are:

    LENIN'S TOMB by David Remnick


    THE HAUNTED LAND: Facing Europe's Ghosts after Communism by Tina Rosenberg

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