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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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almarst-2001 - 12:22pm Apr 5, 2001 EST (#1999 of 2010)

China-Mideast conundrum -

"... To illustrate China´s growing energy dependence, an oil expert, Milton Copulos, estimates that by 2010 Chinese oil imports will reach 80 percent from the Persian Gulf... "

"... China´s starvation for oil has forced it to go beyond their Asian sphere to places as far as Sudan..."

The rest of the article is mostly fiction to avoid saying openly the main point of contention: The US and China energy needs will force them into confrontation.

rshowalter - 01:43pm Apr 5, 2001 EST (#2000 of 2010) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

almarst-2001 4/5/01 12:22pm Confrontation can be competition -- it doesn't have to mean war, and it shouldn't. Japan competes in the world for energy, all of which she imports. She, and many other countries, have made that work.

Markets, and the rule of law, are much more humane, and except for small groups of predators, more efficient, than power politics backed by military action and the threat of it.

The United Nations, for all its failings, stands for that. And the need for international law, and lawfulness, is substantial, because oil IS one of the resources that can motivate "rational" military agressions, unless those agressions are restrained by international legal means.

rshowalter - 01:46pm Apr 5, 2001 EST (#2001 of 2010) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

An effective international law is important. And nation states need to be able to get their essential interests served by it, insofar as possible. That can take a lot of talking. Dawn and I have been proposing a lot of talking (and doing a lot of talking) because ideas and talking can be quite practical. They are the stuff international law, and international cooperation, are largely made of.

rshowalter - 01:48pm Apr 5, 2001 EST (#2002 of 2010) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Oil is a big problem.

The need for oil has in the past, and can now, motivate wars.

If the objective is to subjugate another complicated sociotechnical system - advanced societies are prohibitively difficult to enslave. In that sense, it doesn't make any practical sense for one country to try to conquer another. Complex societies have too many defenses.

Unfortunately, it can make a great deal of practical sense (morals aside) to use military force, overtly and covertly, against weak opposition, to gain control of oil fields. --- Just as it can "make sense" (against weak opposition) to take land for agriculture - if the people on it are simple slaves, as has happened for thousands of years, and as still happens in backward areas, or if the people on it are to be exterminated (Germany's objective in Russa and Poland in WWII. )

These are solid reasons why nation states need defenses - they need to be strong enough to keep from being enslaved, and keep from losing natural resources that CAN be military objectives (as a working complex sociotechnical system can no longer be.)

The logic of the United Nations was to outlaw agressive wars. And in large measure, that's succeeded. It doesn't happen often that one nation state invades another, and when it does happen, recent experience tends to show that the invader gets the worst of it.

The more open information flows are, the harder suprise attacks are, and the less chance an invader has.

Truth - much more often than not, is stabilizing, and on the side of justice and peace. Military actions that "are worthwhile" to the agressor almost always require deception.

rshowalter - 01:54pm Apr 5, 2001 EST (#2003 of 2010) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

If bombing were outlawed, that would be very stabilizing. If penalties for "collateral damage" were charged against bombers -- it would be an enormously powerful step. The american argument that it can project power at low cost to itself rests on willingness to use bombing, and rests on the inability of nation states to shoot US planes down at high enough rates to make bombing prohibitively expensive, or make it prohibitively expensive in some other way.

Can I envision a world that could truly live in peace? For advanced countries, if bombing was effectively outlawed, I can. If bombing was outlawed, or became prohibitively expensive on technical grounds, a PEACEFUL world, based on workable defenses, could be constructed. (For advanced societies.) It would be straightforward to do, with the technical means and information flows now at hand.

MUCH better control of nuclear weapons, which is necessary for the survival of the world, would be a major step in that direction. Outlawing of nuclear bombs, by a huge factor the worst kind of bombs morally, would be another huge step.

But for practical reasons, getting past "the age of bombing" seems to me to be the thing required for a really stable age of world peace. That includes an effective prohibition (with workable penalties) of terrorist bombing.

That peace would still need military forces. It would not be the brotherhood of man. But for a world inhabited by people "a little lower than the angels" it would be far better than what we have and fear now.

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