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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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sumofallfears - 09:39am Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1659 of 1674)

By pursuing a concept that attempts to survive nuclear warfare you give nuclear warfare a ‘chance’. That ‘chance’ of survival destroys the very essence of the worldwide deterrence model. That is why the international community has overwhelmingly tipped the scales in opposition to this system. That is why SALT I and the ABM protocols exist between the two largest nuclear powers.

Deployment of such a system embraces the theoretical perspective of Nuclear Utilization Theory (NUTs). It may not be the intent of those who deploy-but every rational state views the system as a total embrace of a theory designed to survive and later win a nuclear war.

That perspective (NUTs) implies that not only will nuclear war be fought-but it must be fought to survive and win. In such a pursuit, you lower conventional warfare thresholds and lower the crossover points at which conventional conflict goes into nuclear conflict. This is due to the very fact that one has added a chance to something in which no chance existed prior. You cannot posture yourself against the irrational actor- the minority of this world. Doing so only requires the majority if this world (rational actors) to balance against your own actions. You cannot thwart the irrational actor because the irrational actor has no limits or boundaries. The very name implies that the irrational actor is impossible to deter. As noted by the CIA of May 19th 00, the terminology of ‘rogue’ state has no significant in the course of debate regarding missile defence because ‘rouge’ implies that such states are irrational and every state America has labeled rouge has actually demonstrated that in fact they are rational. The rational/irrational actor model is core issue regarding deterrence. As the CIA pointed out, rouge state has ‘more political significance then true value to the structure of deterrence’.

In short the largest nuclear power embarking on the deployment of a system designed to survive nuclear strikes creates the impetus for every rational actor, depot or even alliance to do the same.All at varying levels of technological development. all at varying levels of quality. In doing so-you destroy nuclear deterrence-the very concept that has maintained no use of nuclear weapons against states since 1945. If one recalls our operational experience in Desert Storm, while missile defense did not work very well, deterrence did work very well. Saddam Hussein had poison gas-tipped Scuds that were available for launch at the time of the war, and he did not use them. Subsequently, after the U.S. military interrogated some defectors and some captured Iraqi leaders, it became clear why not: Saddam Hussein did not want to get blown up. Before the war, the United States, Britain, France and Israel had all stated, both publicly and privately, that if he was the first to use weapons of mass destruction, he would not be the last to use weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein and his kindred despots in other countries that we are worried about have not survived for extended periods of time by being stupid or careless. They are ruthless and cruel and sometimes reckless, but they don't remain in power, despite our repeated attempts in the case of Saddam Hussein to dislodge him, by being careless about the survival of their regime. Saddam Hussein understood very well that if he initiated the use of weapons of mass destruction, our retaliation would annihilate his regime. So the notion that missile defense is the only bulwark we have against weapons of mass destruction attacks from these regimes simply flies in the face of our actual experience, in which deterrence has worked very well and missile defense has not worked very well at all.

rshowalter - 10:04am Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1660 of 1674) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

All good points !

I'd dispute, on a number of grounds, the total context of your statement that "deterrance has worked very well" -- the costs of deterrance have been immense. And we can't sustain those costs forever. And the systems, that may have been indispensible in the past, are now VERY much more vulnerable than they were.

But I don't know any responsible decent human being who can, in public, dispute your last point:

" missile defense has not worked very well at all."

And for missile defense to be a source of comfort to us, in the real world, it must work very well indeed.

rshowalter - 10:06am Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1661 of 1674) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Nor do I know of a responsible, decent human being who could, in public and subject to detailed crossexamination claim that missile defense has any technically reasonable chance of the reliablity rates it needs to be useful, at any predictable time in the future.

almarst-2001 - 10:10am Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1662 of 1674)

It would be wise to point to Dirac that the road will not stop there. And while we are paying outrageous amounts of money to develop a way to kill and destroy more efficiently while keeping our feets warm seeping the beer and enjoying the picture on evening TV, other nations watch this with horor and determination to prevent the "opportunity" to found themselve on the "receiving end" of this show.

Some may decided to capitulate and come on the knees to US asking for "protection" and right to exist. Others, the "rouge" ones, may decide to resist and prevent this to ever happen to them. And I may be wrong, but believe the last is a sentiment of a majority.

It is hard to predict the outcome. But looking back into the history of Human Civilization, the following can be learned:

- The period of time a single nation or even a small groups of nations could enjoy the absolute dominating power was always limited and steadily shortening, probably due to the speed of dissimilation of information.

- There newer was and never will be an absolute defence for any significant period of time before becoming absolete by new and usually much less expensive offensive device.

- Very little can be done, if at all, to eliminate the thread completely from someone desperate to cause the damage at any cost, even suicide.

- Even the small fraction of resources spent on arms and wars could dramatically improve this world and eliminate most of the reasons for wars in a first place. Speaking of Cost Effectiveness.

- Rasing the children in a society which glorifies the military power as way to ensure fear and obidience from others while living in fear from retaliation but counting on 100% protection and lack of consequences will bring-up the generation of coward killers and moral monsters. The Colombine tragedy will look like an innocent picnic. Speaking of Morality.

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