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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?
(7338 previous messages)
- 05:04pm Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7339
Here are excerpts from an article written six weeks ago, that
raises issues that remain important. Some of the context has
changed, and seems to have changed for the better .
Mr. Putin, Meet Mr. Bush: Who Needs Treaties? by THOM
" President Bush is imagining, and some of his
senior officials are advocating, a new kind of security
relationship with Russia, and other countries like China. Built
not on a foundation of concrete arms control treaties, it would
radically restructure how Washington and Moscow traditionally
guaranteed stability and predictability and peace itself.
" Arms control pacts, the administration
argues, have inherent flaws: they freeze time from the day they
are signed — or from the moment negotiations begin. Many of
President Bush's senior appointees have negotiated treaties for
previous presidents, and believe the process is bulky, slow, prone
to problems in the Senate and not responsive to America's current
" These days, the officials say, arms treaties
with Russia bring insecurity instead of certainty, because they
seem to confirm a reality — the balance of terror — that no longer
exists; because they don't let either side take advantage of new
technologies to defend against missiles; and because they don't
take account of emerging new threats to both signatories.
" That's the intellectual's argument, anyway. A
brawnier complaint — against allowing virtually any treaties, not
just the old cold war ones, to frame America's security
architecture — is also heard in administration corridors and in
Senate confirmation hearings. It says that in a world of
proliferating weapons of mass destruction, and of the means to
deliver them great distances, treaties only bind those who intend
to keep them and offer legal cover to cheaters.
" But critics of the administration's long-
term strategy say those comments are disingenuous, that they shift
attention from a campaign to create a world in which America is
unbound from its line-by-line obligations, free to pursue its
self-interests unfettered by treaty law."
I think it is fair to say that all the other major countries in
the world are uncomfortable with this Bush administration position
-- and might even be said to be rebelling against it.
But a key question relates to a fair criticism of the
negotiation situations of the past -- that they are so slow that, as
a practical matter, they never offer satisfactory closure. We have
to do better than that.
I think, with the format of the internet, illustrated here and
elsewhere, we can do better -- and that this is possible at
different degrees of "negotiation openness."
- 05:10pm Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7340
At this time, there are things where we may want accomodations in
a relative hurry -- and other things that may take more time.
Legalisms aside, are there any actions involving
testing that can really reduce the security of Russia - at
the physical level, if the framework of agreements remains intact?
I think the answer is no -- and think that that answer can be
established, in public, by checking, if need be.
That being so, accomodations that deal with checking in the next
year or two ought to be possible fairly quickly -- if the
administration can show the Russians, or anybody else, realistic
reasons why these accomodations are needed to make the maximal
technically possible progress on missile defense.
There would seem to be time to deal with many of the
larger issues -- and discipline, as well, since both the Russians
and the Americans are having, in the nature of things, to act "in
public" -- with other nations, with real negotiating power,
- 05:12pm Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7341
What would be pressing would be a commitment to deal with these
larger issues - - because it is in the interest of the citizens of
both countries, and the whole world, to reduce nuclear risks, from
all sources, and to reduce the risks and carnage of war.
- 05:34pm Jul 23, 2001 EST (#7342
Negotiations on the interet don't have to be public -- there are
good ways to arrange restricted access if it is thought desirable.
(For some complicated or high stakes negotiations, parallel
channels, at least one public, at least one private, might
facilitate convergence to a workable deal.)
Even if everything is "closed" -- with the internet - and the
extended memory and enlarged ability to handle complexity that it
provides -- it ought to be possible to get to a deal, on the issues
needed for US missile defense testing for the next year or so,
An advantage, even with "closed" negotiations -- is that "closed"
is a relative term. For example, senior officers in NATO, and
representatives of nation states with a reason to take an interest,
could be provided with the internet record.
Questions of fact should be subject to clarification and
examination by interested parties in this context. Questions of
"good faith" should be, too.
If the Bush administration and the Putin administration wish to
cut a deal that could "stand the light of day" in terms of their
national and international responsibilities -- regarding the limited
issues related to MD testing immediately involved -- it would seem
to me that they could do so.
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