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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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lunarchick - 10:54am Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7335 of 7342)

Placing one's foot into the shoe of world leadership is an onerous undertaking!

rshowalter - 04:47pm Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7336 of 7342) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Rice and Putin both have to deal with a number of issues as they try to set up a system of negotiations that can work for all concerned, and which can come to workable resolutions quickly.

I'll divide the issues, as I see them, into two broad classes: ....

" Fundamental issues of "good faith" --


" Procedural issues."

rshowalter - 04:50pm Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7337 of 7342) Delete Message
Robert Showalter


Each side needs to find out if the other side has clear objectives, in their own mind, that they can and will communicate clearly to the other.

. Objectives that can be evaluated in a context of evidence and ideas that the two sides may feel very differently about. But objectives that each side understands, and can communicate among its own, and to their opposite numbers. That means both sides have to be able to ask for explanations that they can check -- under the circumstances that are there -- where all issues exist along a negotiated continuum of trust and distrust -- and where trust that can be relied on can be supported by checking.

. If both sides are "looking for a new framework of peace" -- and are acting in good faith at this level -- then much is possible. If a comfort level at this level cannot be achieved, both sides need to be able to say why it does not exist, and should be willing to say so in public, or at the least, to the leaders and staffs of other nation states.

If one assumes that the "stand-ins" gisterme and almarst reasonably reflect the views of the Bush administration and Putin's government then there should be things each side should be willing to say, and be asked to relate actions to.

rshowalter - 04:55pm Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7338 of 7342) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

the Bush administration should be willing to say:

. We aren't trying to threaten Russia at all -- want to take active steps to avoid it. But we're concerned with risks we believe we face from missile attacks, and want to be able to go forward, as effectively as we can, to defend ourselves from these "threats." ( And even if we've got some technical doubts, as a practical matter, we're politically committed to doing this, have an infrastructure that can't stop on a dime, and have to give it our best efforts. We aren't threatening Russia as we do this -- and Russia should find ways to modify old agreements to accomodate our needs. ) Whatever may have been true during the Cold War, the Cold War is over, and now our overwhelming objective is to find a way to live in peace, with our own people safe and comfortable, without hurting anybody else.

the Russian administration should be willing to say:

. We don't take the rogue missile threat seriously, as you do - - but if this was your only objective -- not dominating the world, not reducing our security -- we might not object. Especially since the programs involved have major technical problems. But we can't believe, based on our past experiences, that this is really what you're asking for. We're concerned that you are wishing to use your military force to get your way on every issue -- we feel that you are making wars that aren't necessary -- inventing risks that aren't real -- as a pretext for building military forces that permit you to dominate the world, without any concern for the wishes or welfare of anybody but yourselves. The Cold War ought to be over, and our overwhelming objective is to find a way to live in peace and security, with our own people safe and comfortable, without hurting anybody else, but without having to defer to the dictates of the United States, either.

If that's the situation between the Bush and Putin administrations, and both sides are speaking sincerely, in ways that connect to checkable actions, then there are ways to come to an accomodation.

If this isn't the situation -- and if there are fundamantal inconsistencies between what people are claiming, and what they really seem to be negotiating for, then there ought to be ways, in the dialog, to establish that a negotiation in good faith isn't occuring.

In that case, both sides can be expected to do choose what is in their national interest, in the world as it is. Both sides have to care "what the neighbors think."

In a physical situation where it looks like missile defense can't possibly work, there would seem to be possibilities for reframing, in the interest of both sides.

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