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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 - 09:28am Jul 24, 2001 EST (#7363 of 7381) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

The US could become degenerate in that way - but I don't think so. Ten years ago, many thought Japan was oging to dominate the world -- but Japan had contradictions built into its usages -- and rather than facing them, they stagnated. Japan is now far, far behind where it would have been if it had been able to face its challenges, at home and abroad, with more forthrightness.

America could stagnate, too. But we're a more diverse culture -- and I think we'll finally look at our situation, and take reasonable actions. But just now, reasons to wake up are accumulating fast. The speed and coherence of the world reaction the Bush's response on global warming should be a warning.

rshowalter - 09:29am Jul 24, 2001 EST (#7364 of 7381) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Isolated on Global Warming

"A wallflower at what might have been its own victory party, the United States could only watch yesterday as 178 countries agreed on a deal that salvages the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and commits the rest of the industrialized world to orderly, mandatory reductions in the gases that are believed responsible for the warming of the earth's atmosphere. The door was left open for the Bush administration to sign on at any time in the future. But that seems unlikely. President Bush has already called the treaty "fatally flawed," and nothing said yesterday by Paula Dobriansky, the under secretary of state who led an essentially irrelevant American delegation at the talks, suggested any change in Mr. Bush's thinking.

"The agreement must still be ratified by 55 industrialized countries, and even then will not be nearly as effective as it might have been if the United States, which emits one-fourth of the world's greenhouse gases, had signed on. Even so, the agreement will immediately increase the pressure on the administration to develop a plausible alternative strategy. Key Democrats are already calling for big reductions in carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas, through cleaner power plants, industrial processes and vehicles.

"There is also pressure from the business community. Many corporate leaders are convinced that the United States will eventually have to join in fighting global warming, and would prefer to begin making capital investments now than waiting until the last minute, when the job will be more expensive. Some corporate leaders are also worried that without binding targets, American companies will have no incentive to develop technologies to reduce global warming gases, thereby ceding a lucrative market to the Europeans and the Japanese.

"The huge irony is that this agreement was tailored in many respects to American specifications and with an eye to reducing the putative burdens on America's economy that Mr. Bush used as an excuse to abandon not only the protocol but also his campaign pledge to impose mandatory controls on carbon dioxide. The agreement includes at least two important strategies that President Bill Clinton and Al Gore insisted on in Kyoto four years ago. One is an emissions trading scheme that is designed to use market mechanisms to allow countries to achieve their emissions targets at the lowest possible cost. The other is the so-called "clean development mechanism" under which rich countries can earn credits by providing cutting-edge clean-air technologies to poorer countries.

"Cementing the deal required softening some of Kyoto's emissions targets as well as making concessions to Japan, which sought and received extra credits toward its target for protecting its forests, which act as a "sink" for carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. And while the revised agreement gives extra credit to Japan for protecting its own forests, it perversely awards no credit at all for projects designed to stop tropical deforestation elsewhere. But even the severest critics conceded that these shortcomings were not disqualifying given the importance of the agreement as a whole.

"The hope now is to have the necessary ratifications in hand by the 10th anniversary of the 1992 Rio Summit on global warming in Johannesburg next year. It was at Rio that Mr. Bush's father first committed the United States to a global effort to reduce greenhouse gases. There is still time for his son to honor that commitment.

lunarchick - 09:32am Jul 24, 2001 EST (#7365 of 7381)

    the conditions were rigged to make it easier for the intercepting rocket to recognise its target

rshowalter - 09:33am Jul 24, 2001 EST (#7366 of 7381) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

When does the checking of matters of fact become morally forcing?

In the United States, today, and elsewhere in the world, the answer is -- "never, if people in power don't want the facts to be known and verified."

Friedman raises some crucial points, including some that he's raised before. Does anybody have to answer? The answer, in detail, explains a lot about what we ought to fear, and what we might hope, with some patterns changed.

lunarchick - 09:38am Jul 24, 2001 EST (#7367 of 7381)

    Today's Russians, who have endured enough change to last them several lifetimes, certainly value the current calm. They also prize Vladimir Putin, the president whom they see as its architect.

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