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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?
(7175 previous messages)
- 09:15pm Jul 18, 2001 EST (#7176
Triangular Diplomacy http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/18/opinion/18WED1.html
"The new treaty of "friendship and cooperation" between Russia
and China, signed Monday by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Jiang
Zemin, does not signal a return to cold-war tensions with the United
States. But it does represent an effort by the Russians and Chinese
to strengthen their hands in future diplomatic dealings with
Washington. Triangular diplomacy is back, in a new form and with
diminished strategic significance.
"In the cold war, America and Russia were the two superpowers,
but China was a pivotal factor in their relations. That three-sided
strategic geometry explained the informal alliance between
Washington and Beijing that began during the Nixon administration.
The two countries were drawn together by shared fears over Soviet
military strength and the Kremlin's aggressive diplomacy. But even
as Washington cultivated Beijing, it pursued improved relations with
"Today the United States is the world's only military and
economic superpower. Russia and China, both under pressure to
deliver greater prosperity to their people through market-based
growth, vitally depend on continued access to American trade and
development. Neither is in any position to challenge Washington's
conventional military power. But both are uneasy about the global
sweep of American foreign policy, and with this agreement are
establishing at least a symbolic barrier to unhindered American
"The new treaty commits Russia and China to resolve their own
disputes peacefully, consult with each other about emerging threats
and oppose any attempts by other countries to interfere in the
sovereign affairs of any state. Though the treaty text is full of
challenges to American policies, neither of its signatories intends
to shun further diplomacy with Washington.
"China will continue its efforts to join the World Trade
Organization and increase economic ties with the United States.
Russia, as Mr. Putin made plain after his first meeting with
President Bush in Slovenia last month, will continue to negotiate
with Washington about missile defense, nuclear arms reductions and
other mutually important issues.
"But Washington's record of military intervention in Iraq and
the Balkans, its promotion of NATO expansion toward Russia's borders
and its talk of building a missile shield have helped nudge Russia
and China closer together.
"Americans see missile defense as a way of protecting
themselves against nuclear threats from unpredictable countries like
North Korea, Iraq and Iran. Russia and China fear that permitting
the development of new defensive technologies could one day
undermine their own long-range missile forces. They also worry that
with a missile shield in place, Washington might feel freer to
intervene militarily in areas where they too have interests, like
the Persian Gulf and the Korean Peninsula.
"Moscow and Beijing were unsettled by NATO's 1999 intervention
in Kosovo, undertaken to protect ethnic Albanians from persecution
by their Serbian rulers. They fear that similar arguments could one
day be invoked against Chinese policies in Tibet or Russian actions
"Though neither Russia nor China is a superpower, both are
important. When American policies affect their interests, as is the
case with missile defense and, for Russia, NATO expansion,
Washington should consult with them carefully and not simply proceed
according to its own preferences and timetable. Failure to take
Russia and China into account will fan dangerous resentments and
drive them away from Washington and toward each other."
Maybe the meetings between the leaders will move things in
- 09:57pm Jul 18, 2001 EST (#7177
The key idea in the workability of a missile defense system is
The more complex any system is, the less likely it is to work.
And a missile defense system is enormously complex. A very large
interconnected system, which has never been tested in real-time, and
cannot be, must work perfectly the first time, and flawlessly
destroy one or more incoming missiles, certainly an impossible task
Defense Secretary Runsfeldt has even admitted that it would not
be perfect, but insists we go ahead anyway. But this is one case
where to work means it must be perfect. "Almost" destroying an
incoming missile doesn't count.
- 10:32pm Jul 18, 2001 EST (#7178
My old partner, the late Professor Steve Kline, of Stanford, told
me that when he was a grad student at MIT, the Dean made a point of
gathering students together, and telling them about a story. The
story was Jules Verne's TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE
In Verne's story, a Captain takes 10,000 tons of steel, glass,
wood and other materials
--- he makes careful drawings
-- gets a team of workmen together
-- the team makes the pieces according the
drawings and puts them together . . .
and off the Captain and the workmen go -- cruising
20,000 leagues under the surface of the sea.
The Dean made sure that this lesson was very clearly made --
" In the whole history of engineering, NOTHING
LIKE THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED."
Things go wrong. Pretty often. For everybody. You have to
No MIT engineer was to leave Cambridge without knowing that
Somehow, D.O.D., when they can get money, can forget the lesson.
They need to learn it.
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