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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 - 08:36am Apr 2, 2001 EST (#1904 of 1927) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

In NYT OpEd today:


It starts:

WASHINGTON "The turn toward confrontation in America's relations with Russia threatens to undermine the expansion of NATO in northern Europe, a prospect that could seriously damage American security interests. If the current difficulties persist, Moscow will try to draw a red line around the Baltic states, keeping them out of the treaty organization and the European allies will probably go along. This would result in a fundamental weakening of NATO's role in bringing stability to post-cold-war Europe. . . . . "

Given the Bush administrations turn toward confrontation, perhaps the piece might be as well titled "NATO does not Need to Grow" . . . .

No one doubts the need to bring stability to post-cold-war Europe -- indeed, it is massively in the interest of all nation states to end the cold war. Neither the US nor Russia have been as effective as they could have been in doing this.

Russia occupied many countries, against the will of many or most of the people in those countries, for many years, and the amount of anger and ill will that persists is still large, and in some ways even a festering wound. I, for one, do not dispute the compelling reasons the Russian state had to do so -- though I wish those reasons had not been as they were. Perhaps, with better negotiations on both sides, and some different decisions on both sides, the past could have been better than it was. But what happened happened. Though the cold-war is over, the peacemaking process certainly isn't.

I've suggested that Russia needs to "make peace" with America, not only at the level of a few top leaders, but at many human levels, so that its own necessarily complex and multiply articulated sociotechnical system can interact with the similarly complex and multiply articulated but different sociotechnical system(s) of the United States.

I'd suggest something exactly similar with respect to Russia and other nation states, and especially those nation states that were on the USSR's side of the "Iron Curtain." Insofar as the Russians can apologize to them for real wrongs done, explaining at the same time her circumstances and necessities, she should, as a nation state, and at individual levels.

Insofar as Russia can find specific tangible ways to assure the necessarily wary and emotional people in these countries that she does not intend to invade them, that would be very good for all concerned, and for the peace of the world. Openness, at many levels, would be useful here. The fiction that Russia may invade these countries has real, expensive consequences. If Russia, in interaction with the people of these nations, and their governments, could find ways to reduce the credibility of this fearful fiction, especially with hard information and clear arrangements that tend to make invasion militarily impossible at a minimum cost that would reduce the reason-for-being of military forces, all through Eurasia. The more publicly this is done, the better it would be for the cause of peace, and for Russia.

Very analogous, though not identical, arguments can be made about the relations between Russia and China. Reasons for hostility between the two countries go back 900 years -- and some of the past is horrific. Even so, now it would be in the interest of both sides to communicate better. And if both sides became more assured and reasonably assured that aggressive military action between the two countries was not going to occur, with as much as possible done, in terms of information flows, to see that it could not occur.

rshowalter - 08:37am Apr 2, 2001 EST (#1905 of 1927) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Russia has been subject, first as the USSR, and still today, to efforts to defame her character -- to reduce the status of those who deal with her. Too often, in the past, Russia has made this easy. Now, in her own interests, and the interests of peace in the world, she should make it hard.

There are a number of people, and powers, that Russia should want to respect, and should want to be respected by. People who care about what the Queen of England thinks, and what she stands for, all over the world, are among them. If Russia could comport herself in a manner that the Queen of England would approve of, that would powerfully serve the cause of peace, the cause of prosperity, and Russia's own interests. There would be no need to become any less Russian for this to happen. You're asking for my advice sometimes, and I'm honored to give it, to the extent that I believe that serves the interests of my own country, the cause of justice, and the cause of peace (interests that do not reasonably conflict.) You might seriously consider, I believe, if only as a thought experiment, asking the Queen of England, or someone in the Privy Coucil who she recommends, how Russia can change, in graceful ways within Russia's own interest, in order to raise her status and effectiveness as a peaceful power in the community of nations. In areas where her expertise is greatest, Russia is sometimes weakest. I might add that the Queen has a constitutional "duty to warn" and, with respect to nuclear weapons, and military instabilities, that duty is a powerful thing that might serve not only her nation, but the world, if she were to help Russia become a higher status, more effective, less threatening, more respected citizen in the community of nations.

rshowalter - 08:39am Apr 2, 2001 EST (#1906 of 1927) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

The idea of 1859 rshowalter 4/1/01 12:56pm -1862, if implemented by the NYT, might be a money maker for the paper, and might be more acceptable to all concerned, if the "comment files" with respect to articles came to be charged for, as the articles themselves are, after a time.

This would enhance the value of the NYT archive, and would tend to shield comments from casually prying eyes, while preserving a record for people with a real interest in the information.

This might also make people asked for comment on stories more willing to comment.

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