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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 - 09:14am Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7320 of 7335) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

In the world, the "other dinosaurs" have real power - once they are paying attention. The United States cannot prosper, or be safe, if it "has no friends."

The rate at which the United States is losing friend must be rare, in all of diplomatic history.

Perhaps things are turning around, and turning around dramatically, now.

If not, the rate at which the United States is losing friends is likely to accellerate - not reverse.

lunarchick - 09:15am Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7321 of 7335)

    Turkey: Tourism v Realism:
    In Turkey, Europe meets Asia in the city of Istanbul divided only by the Bosphorous. Istanbul is famous for its many mosques - the Blue Mosque and the Ayia Sofia among others - and the rising minarets can be seen dotted over the entire city. There are also many ancient sites in dating back to early Christian times such as Ephesus and the home of the Virgin Mary. Turkey brings all the mystery of the East to the Western world with exotic music, fantastic carpets, Turkish baths and a beautiful climate.
The Cargos carried on the Bosphorous River are a cause of concern to Istanbul Population 11 million. Russia is shipping Oil and next Nuclear Waste for re-processing. Vessels ought to have a river-pilot passing through Istanbul - but don't - and the city's population is scared!

rshowalter - 09:20am Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7322 of 7335) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

With good reason. Here is a situation, and one of many, where Russian prestige, safety and prosperity depends on responsible conduct. Sometimes there seems no penalty -- a nation is facing no specific penalty but the bad opinion of others.

But that bad opinion can be powerful indeed, in all sorts of ways.

The prestige, safety, and prosperity of other nations, including the United States, depends on earned good will, in the same way.

rshowalter - 09:32am Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7323 of 7335) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

In several articles today, and often previously, in the New York Times and elsewhere, the idea that the Russians cannot afford to increase the number of warheads they can aim (given a few minutes of downloading) at the United States is emphasized.

Bush and Putin Tie Antimissile Talks to Big Arms Cuts by DAVID E. SANGER

Reading Putin's Mind by WILLIAM SAFIRE

The argument for this is based, in very large part, on a mistake about accounting. The marginal cost of producing a weapon, already designed, usually is radically less than the cost accountants may use -- an accounting cost which includes an attribution of sunk costs. It may be much easier than we'd like to believe for the Russians to increase the number of warheads targeted against us --- much easier then anyone should like, to increase the probability of the destruction of the world.

The idea that Putin is bluffing about this is dangerous, and almost certainly wrong. He has both the materials, the design, and the manpower, sitting around unused.

lunarchick - 09:34am Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7324 of 7335)

Interesting to note how many 'disasters' that hit the 'news' are actually lack of quality management.

rshowalter - 09:40am Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7325 of 7335) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Russia is full of such disasters -- and getting them under control is crucial for Russia. Progress seems to be going on - but there's still a long way to go.

And the missile "defense" program boondoggle here in the United States is a huge example of lack of quality management -- at almost every level that you can name.

If Russia worked harder on quality management, it could be a richer, safer, and prouder country.

If we did the same, so could we.

lunarchick - 09:46am Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7326 of 7335)

Liked the title here :)

rshowalter - 09:50am Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7327 of 7335) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

And a crucial subject - decision making on the basis of ignorance and uncertainty.

There are two key points about such decision making:

Where "gamblers ruin" isn't an issue - you play the "odds" -- and are careful to do things where the risk discounted payoff/cost ratio is as positive as you can get it. (0ften this means -- root out lies and get better information.)

But "gamblers ruin" often IS an issue -- and there are some risks that a rational player cannot take.

The risk of nuclear war ought to be one of these, on any sane accounting.

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