[F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  /

    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?

Earliest MessagesPrevious MessagesRecent MessagesOutline (1478 previous messages)

lunarchick - 03:52pm Mar 25, 2001 EST (#1479 of 1482)

' lies and mistakes are dangerous because we are dealing with systems far too complex for us to fully understand or predict '

I assume that here you infer that MD situations can run out of control - 'instantly' and 'fatalty' on a world scale.

rshowalter - 04:08pm Mar 25, 2001 EST (#1480 of 1482) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

I think the lies and mistakes could easily destroy the entire world, and that this could happen any minute -- my view, after careful, thoughtful calculations, that I've gone through again and again, is that the odds are good that the world WILL be destroyed, fairly soon, unless these weapons come under a control that can only happen if current insane views are shown wrong - and people get sense enough to do some simple, basic things.

My own guess is that the odds of world destruction, these days, run about 10%/year -- which corresponds to an "expected rate of death per day" of the order of 1.6 millions deaths per day.

And the peril, now, is more likely to increase rather than decrease - unless sensible thing are done. These weapons were designed, in all the fundamental ways, during the Eisenhower administration, and they are terrifyingly unstable and obsolete in the current world.

We need to shift those risks down - down toward zero. And we can.

rshowalter - 04:12pm Mar 25, 2001 EST (#1481 of 1482) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

I'm thinking -- if I was an American, what would I want to happen now?

I'm also thinking -- if I were Putin, what would I want, for myself, for my associates, for my country, and for the world?

I find that, in the most essential ways, the questions are in entire harmony.

It seems to me that the person, in the entire world, with the hardest leadership role is Vladimir Putin - for reasons that I believe he understands pretty well. There are a very few, very important things that he needs to do most. Somehow, he has to heal his country psychologically - so that Russians can go on, more comfortably, more happily, more proudly, as Russians. And he has to make Russia into a country that people from other countries can comfortably, proudly, profitably deal with - but not exploit.

Someone, and perhaps Putin's role will be decisive here, has to take some essential steps so that the world can be safer, richer, and much less troubled than it is today.

And the US needs to learn how to be great, without diminishing itself, and messing up the whole world, by continuing its role as a bully - as a destroyer of values that most Americans, themselves, would want to support.

rshowalter - 04:13pm Mar 25, 2001 EST (#1482 of 1482) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

I think the story of the Cold War has to be understood, not only factually, but emotionally, too, in a way that permits people to understand it, live with the past as it was, and get free of lies that are impoverishing, imperilling, and demeaning the whole world.

We need, for this, to have some piece of common ground - a common text, very widely known, widely understood, widely liked, through which we can contact each other, and discuss the key issues that peace and honest cooperation require.

I believe that a movie could serve this purpose. The movie is often voted among the greatest ever made. The movie is one that I love very much - a movie about a time when Russians and Americans were on the same side. The movie is Casablanca.

I think that if, in negotiations about points that divide us, all could refer as much as is reasonable to that movie, we'd have fewer misunderstandings, and a clearer sense of the differences between us. When we lost contact with each other, we might regain it by reference to this common and easily reviewable text.

 Read Subscriptions  Subscribe  Post Message
 E-mail to Sysop  Your Preferences

 [F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  / Missile Defense

Enter your response, then click the POST MY MESSAGE button below.
See the
quick-edit help for more information.

Home | Site Index | Site Search | Forums | Archives | Shopping

News | Business | International | National | New York Region | NYT Front Page | Obituaries | Politics | Quick News | Sports | Science | Technology/Internet | Weather
Editorial | Op-Ed

Features | Arts | Automobiles | Books | Cartoons | Crossword | Games | Job Market | Living | Magazine | Real Estate | Travel | Week in Review

Help/Feedback | Classifieds | Services | New York Today

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company