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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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redsox24 - 06:15pm Aug 9, 2001 EST (#7827 of 7904)

In response to posting #7821

There seems to be some confusion as to my initial argument, so I would like to expand on what I wrote in my first posting and address kjeldridge20's questions and comments explicitly.

First, the creation of US nuclear capabilities can, and most likely will, lead to less stability internationally and increase, not decrease domestic security in regards to a nuclear attack. The theoretical argument is an extension of Game Theory's classical "prisoner's dilemma" and is usually referred to as a "security dilemma." The essence of the argument is that if country #1 augments its military capabilities (in this case nuclear) the country which did not increase its military capacity will have a relative loss of security as their military resources are still the same, but their adversary's are now greater. The now less secure second country will increase its own military capabilities to offset the recent loss of security. This situation repeats itself indefinitely, as the first country is now less secure and is compelled to further increase their military capacity. The security dilemma theory was evident in the arm's race of the Cold War and is easily seen today in places like India and Pakistan. The reason why a country like Russia or China would increase its military capacity in response to our "missile defense" is two-fold. First, there is no lock on our missile technology that says: "for defensive purposes only." The technology can easily be deployed offensively. China and Russia and many other nations around the world, despite how you may feel personally, consider the US a potentially aggressive country. A missile defense system decreases their relative security. The best way for them to counter this loss of security is to increase their offensive capabilities. In fact, this is exactly what China has indicated it would do. The second rationale (closely related to the first) is that only by increasing the number of offensive missiles can a country, such as China, compensate for the expected loss of missiles due to our defensive shield capability (assuming it is at least partially successful or perceived to be). This logic is the same as that during the Cold War. The US and Russia stockpiled weapons, not because they were all needed to "destroy the world," but rather to ensure a second strike ability that was the essential deterrent to either country launching an attack in the first place.

Second, I agree that any government or private expenditure has a multiplying effect throughout the economy much greater than the initial dollar amount. This is a basic tenant of Keynesian economics. I only agree that the private sector can stimulate the economy more than the government in so much as there is no, and by this I mean zero, net savings by individuals. This happens to be the situation in the US over the past year or so. The drawback of government spending is, of course, what some would call its propensity to be inefficient, and since economics is concerned with the most efficient allocation of scarce resources, the government, acting as a super firm, is troublesome. Now, I would like to address your comment explicitly. First, I would argue that government spending on defense boarders on the most inefficient expenditure possible, and I am confused as to why you would indicate it as being a perfect stimulus for the economy. Certainly, building a missile will create jobs for engineers and military suppliers, but the physical product (the missile) has no lasting economic value. Once created, apart from creating "security" it has no value as an input in further production in our economy. However, if you increase the ability of individuals through educational opportunities and improved health they will be more productive in the future, thus improving the most important economic capital: human resources. Of course, bridges, roads, and buildings would be nice too, and these will long o

redsox24 - 06:24pm Aug 9, 2001 EST (#7828 of 7904)

Finishing my most recent post (cut off):

Of course, bridges, roads, and buildings would be nice too, and these will long outlast any military goods. My original point was that the opportunity cost of spending scarce resources on military technology is very large. This is a concern for all those that do not place an infinite value on military expenditures. I, for one, do not.

Finally, the very reason that I included the third point in my original argument is to help bring the debate on a missile defense system back to its scientific origin. I know very little about physics. My point was (and this seems to have been completely ignored) that there are those who do. One of these people is Theodore A. Postol, a professor of science, technology, and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to one article on the subject of missile defense published in "The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists," he has worked as a scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and on missile-related issues at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. He has published numerous articles criticizing the technical merits of missile defense. This from probably the preeminent thinker in the field. Please, don't take my word for it...

entropyblows - 06:27pm Aug 9, 2001 EST (#7829 of 7904)

Uh, no

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