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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 - 09:38am Jul 24, 2001 EST (#7368 of 7381) Delete Message
Robert Showalter


"I sure welcome the news that the Bush team will open missile talks with Russia, because it might bring some clarity to the Bushies' arguments on missile defense, which have been at best incoherent and at worst dishonest.

"Look at the Republican arms expert Richard Perle's Senate testimony last week. He was trying to justify why we need missile defense against rogue leaders, who, he claimed, cannot be deterred by the classic doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD), which has kept the peace for 50 years. "[Some say] you can count on Saddam to be deterred by our deterrent," said Mr. Perle. "I frankly don't want to count on the rational judgment of a man who used poison gas against his own people."

"Let's dissect that statement. Mr. Perle is comparing the Iraqi people to the American people, and suggesting that since Saddam used gas against his own people, you never know, he may do the same to us.

"Well, there is one small difference between us and the Iraqi people: We have nuclear weapons to retaliate with and they did not. During the gulf war Saddam had poison gas warheads. He was warned by the elder President Bush that if he used that poison gas against U.S. troops, his regime would be wiped off the planet. And he didn't use it. Not only did he not use it against our troops in a war on his own border, with his whole regime and maybe his own life in the balance, he did not even put poison gas on the Scuds he fired at Israel, which would have been enormously popular in the Arab world. Why not? Classic deterrence. He knew the Israelis would destroy Baghdad.

"In other words, the one thing we know about Saddam is that given the ideal opportunity to use weapons of mass destruction against us, before we had any missile shield, he chose not to for exactly the reasons that the Bushies insist are out of date classic deterrence. Saddam understands something the Bushies refuse to admit: that there is a difference between evil and crazy. Saddam is evil. But he has survived all these years precisely because he's not suicidal.


rshowalter - 09:41am Jul 24, 2001 EST (#7369 of 7381) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

"This gets to the core problem with the Bush approach to missile defense. It is based on flimsy or dishonest arguments, including: (1) We need a missile shield because the cold war deterrence doctrine of MAD, mutual assured destruction, is out of date. The truth: We will continue to rely on MAD for decades to come. Indeed, the U.S. is now so overpowering, the only thing that might be new about MAD is that it is no longer mutual. Any rogues firing a missile at us would end up with TAD Their Assured Destruction. (2) Classic deterrence can't be relied upon to work against rogues because they are crazy. The truth: All evidence proves just the opposite.

"The Bushies resort to these tall tales because they are theologically obsessed with missile defense. So to justify spending $100 billion on a system to deter rogues who are already deterred by classic deterrence, and to justify ripping up the ABM treaty (the Bushies' real goal, because they hate arms control), they have to make wildly exaggerated claims that we are in a whole new era and the old ways won't work.

"As I said before, I am not theologically against missile defense, but it has to be judged by what it really is a defense system that will always be, at best, a supplement to mutual assured destruction, which is neither out of date nor going away. It is like wearing suspenders along with a belt.

"Sure, it would be nice to have some extra protection against rogues. But if the Bush team wants us to pay huge money for such suspenders it must prove that missile defense works under battlefield conditions, which it hasn't; that it can be deployed without alienating Russia and China, which can overwhelm any system by simply selling missiles to rogues; and that the system will not cost so much that it will divert needed resources from weapons and army units, which already do work against real threats.

"Missile defense isn't like abortion, where the only issue is whether you're for or against it," says Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert. "Who wouldn't want both a belt and suspenders? The question is, what are the economic and strategic costs, and what are the alternatives?"

"These require honest arguments, not theology, and the Bushies have not made them.

Comment: If the Bush administration does not have to make honest arguments, in the United States, on an issue of this importance, the rest of the world should take notice. If these are the rules by which the United States judges - where, on matters of military significance -- matters of life and death, survival and murder -- are they to be trusted?

lunarchick - 09:50am Jul 24, 2001 EST (#7370 of 7381)

Guardian have a series on Chetnyia. (Johnathon STEELE)
Locals have no water, power .. have to buy water from Russian troups.
Russians failing to win over local people.
10-20 Russians killed per week by mines.

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