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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 - 09:53am Jul 16, 2001 EST (#7077 of 7079) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

In MD7070 almarst-2001 7/16/01 7:26am almarst talks about how easy it is to buy popularity with money. He's right that money, combined with other things, can be powerful, but what he says is unbalanced.

Money makes a difference. A big difference. But it goes only so far -- and the application of advertising or public relations money to a product that does not please the consumer can backfire , and backfire badly.

In fact, it is a major axiom of the advertising industry that the best way to destroy a bad product is to advertise it.

The Bush administration has been pushing missile defense very hard - and pushing many other pro-war, proisolationist - unilateralist positions very hard. They've been persuasive in a sense -- very persuasive -- the prestige and credibility of the United States is declining at a great rate.

The position of many american officials and military officers may be much like that of an article set out in MD7036 rshowalter 7/15/01 8:52am ....


The piece bears reading -- not only because it shows what some people feel -- but because the Web site that features it does so - - and reveals its perspective by so doing. For myself, I'd be hard put to imagine "advertising" more destructive to american presige or interests. I think most Europeans, and many if not most Americans, would agree.

Today, in the Op Ed page of the NYT, some similar points are made, as clearly, though much more politely, in

. Europe's Chance in the Mideast by GEOFFREY WHEATCROFT , which starts:

" On a range of issues from global warming to the small arms trade, the policy gulf between Europe and America is noticeably widening. . . . . .

. . . .

" If Europe is drawn more and more into the Middle East, it won't be for only economic reasons. Political nature abhors a vacuum, and one is being created by President Bush's dislike of intimate involvement in the conflict. (And, I'd add, other isolationist and unilateralist policies.)

Here's a key point, about how effective Bush's arguments, backed with much money is, from Wheatcroft's article:

. The European Union may be an effective free trade area, but it does not, as yet, have an effective common foreign or defense policy. Henry Kissinger used to say that he would take "Europe" seriously when it had a telephone number he could call in a crisis. Might the bitter and intractable battle in the Holy Land provide the occasion for making Europe a real, working toll-free number?

That and other things might -- the policies of the Bush administration are losing support -- at a rate that might have astonished most observers -- all over the world -- and that will effect his support in the United States, as well, where false advertising sometimes works for a while, but can backfire, as well.

rshowalter - 09:54am Jul 16, 2001 EST (#7078 of 7079) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Ideas matter - and in the long run, ideas that can actually fit in people's heads, and fit with people's circumstances, matter very much.

For a group, including the Bush administration, to maintain power, either domestically, or in international relations, it must work by rules of power that are universal and basic.

Adolf Berle's Laws of Power , and some related matters, connected to Bush, Putin, and Missile Defense, are cited in MD5285-5288 rshowalter 6/16/01 3:01pm

According to Berle, who I believe is right in this, frameworks of power are always subject to these rules.

One: Power invariably fills any vacuum in human organization.

Two: Power is invariably personal.

Three: Power is invariably based on a system of ideas of philosophy. Absent such a system or philosophy, the institutions essential to power cease to be reliable, power ceases to be effective, and the power holder is eventually displaced.

Four: Power is exercised through, and depends on, institutions. By their existence, they limit, come to control, and eventually confer or withdraw power.

Five: Power is invariably confronted with, and acts in the presence of, a field of responsibility. The two constantly interact, in hostility or co-operation, in conflict or through some form of dialog, organized or unorganized, made part of, or perhaps intruding into, the institutions on which power depends.

Judged by these standards, the application of money, and human effort, can be essential -- but it is nothing like sufficient for real power. Ideas matter too, and matter a great deal. If a case is insupportable on evidence, people notice.

In important ways, the Bush administration is degrading and forfeiting American power, at a great rate, all over the world.

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