Forums

toolbar



 [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 (7026 previous messages)

rshowalter - 10:24pm Jul 14, 2001 EST (#7027 of 7028) Delete Message
Robert Showalter showalte@macc.wisc.edu

"As long as the potential for an adversarial relationship between the two nations persists, the United States can do one of two things to prevent a nuclear attack from Russia. One is to deploy a national missile defense capable of thwarting any Russian nuclear attack, no matter how many missiles are involved, thereby removing the incentive for such an attack. But even the most stalwart proponent of missile defense will readily admit that it will be many decades before such a thoroughgoing defense is possible.

"The only other option is to preserve the ability to inflict unacceptable damage in response to a Russian nuclear assault. This means mutual deterrence, a reality that Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged in remarks made last month.

"Given the inevitability of maintaining mutual deterrence, how can this best be done? Like it or not, maintaining mutual deterrence means preserving the international agreements that establish its framework. Mutual deterrence without treaties without, in particular, the ability to verify the other side's nuclear capability is merely a less reliable, considerably more anxious version of the deterrence policy that has kept the peace now for many years.

"It may very well be the case that the United States and Russia will unilaterally reduce their respective arsenals to 1,500 warheads, or even lower, and agree to amend the ABM Treaty in order to permit limited missile defense. Though its impact on strategic stability above all, on relations with China must be considered, this new framework may well be worth exploring. But whatever happens, it should not be mistaken for an alternative to deterrence.

Robert S. McNamara is a former United States secretary of defense. Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr., president of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security, was President Clinton's special representative for arms control from 1994 to 1997.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Even with much lower numbers of missiles -- deterrance is a crucial consideration -- and the more stable the better. It would be well if it could be arranged at levels of missiles, and with safeguards, that will not destroy the world -- as current levels would do.

If we did it right -- deterrance would continue to be stable with the number of nukes at zero -- we can both arrange mutually assured reasons that we should be sufficiently afraid of each other.

rshowalter - 10:39pm Jul 14, 2001 EST (#7028 of 7028) Delete Message
Robert Showalter showalte@macc.wisc.edu

" even the most stalwart proponent of missile defense will readily admit that it will be many decades before such a thoroughgoing defense is possible."

In the race between defense and offense, with the difficulties for defense much larger than for offense -- and with other means of nuclear weapon delivery available besides missiles - invulnerability from nuclear weapons will NEVER be possible, except to the extent that they can be prohibited.

I made a proposal about how that prohibition might be done, not forgetting its difficulties, that I think still makes sense, as part of a workable solution.

MD266 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am ... MD267 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:33am
MD268 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:35am ... MD269 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:36am

Robert McNamara was one of the Signatoies of the Global Security Appeal of last year - advocating prohibition of nuclear weapons -- and spoke in favor of full prohibition - after careful negotiation -- at that time. MD374-375 rshowalt 10/4/00 5:08am

 Read Subscriptions  Cancel Subscriptions  Search  Post Message
 Email 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