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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?
(7919 previous messages)
- 07:30pm Aug 19, 2001 EST (#7920
Flintstone Futurama by MAUREEN DOWD http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/19/opinion/19DOWD.html
"We've had the Age of Enlightenment and the Age of
Aquarius. Now we're in the Age of Arrested Development.
"Never mind the interplanetary cooperation
presaged in "Star Trek." We're retreating from planetary
cooperation. America has grown insular, isolationist, paranoid.
"Nothing leaps ahead. Power clings to the passé,
retreating from the cutting edge, running safe TV shows, choosing
scientific stasis. Everything — from Washington's trashed
international treaties to the coal-and-drill Bush environmental
policy to Hollywood's tedious remakes and endless parade of World
War II and Cinderella-themed movies — looks backward, not forward.
" Our missile shield, more science fiction than
science, has become a metaphor for our passive, defensive, retro
"In the name of Captain Kirk, how did this happen?
How did we end up charting a course to timidly go where every man
has been before?
Perhaps when an era is ending, that's how things happen. It
seems to me that things are polarizing, in ways that may make some
good decisions possible - if central facts, on which much depends,
can be carefully, credibly established.
From my side, things seem exciting, and hopeful.
The recent trip of NYT brass to China illustrates some of the
reasons for hope.
- 07:34pm Aug 19, 2001 EST (#7921
Excerpts from Strategic Warmth By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/10/opinion/10FRIE.html
" All I could think of as I listened to Mr.
Jiang was: What's going on here? First President Bush looks into
the Russian president's eyes and says he saw a good soul, and now
China's president says he's heard Mr. Bush's voice and he sounds
like a guy he can work with. What happened to the good old days
when Great Powers threatened each other with annihilation to get
their way or pounded tables with a shoe?
Maybe people are getting saner, and a little wiser.
" Chinese officials will tell you privately,
and urgently, that U.S. plans for a missile shield pose a huge
strategic problem for Beijing. While all the focus has been on
Russia, the fact is that the Russians can easily overwhelm any
U.S. missile shield with their 7,000 long-range nukes. That's why
in some ways missile defense is a bonanza for Russia's president,
Vladimir Putin. He's going to get the U.S. to pay him to scrap the
ABM treaty so the U.S. can build a system that Mr. Putin knows
can't threaten Russia in any near term, and may never work.
" China, by contrast, has only 18 to 24 nuclear
missiles that could hit the U.S. And although China is upgrading
that force and making it more mobile, the fact is that even a
small U.S. missile shield could conceivably blunt every Chinese
long-range nuke and therefore eliminate China's deterrent threat.
Add to that the possibility that Taiwan might be integrated into a
U.S. missile shield, making it less vulnerable to Chinese attack
as well, and you see why U.S. missile defense for China is not a
bonanza but a potentially huge bill.
" If Beijing can't work out some understanding
with the U.S. to limit any shield, China will have to spend
billions of dollars to expand its nuclear arsenal — something it
does not want to do right now, when its health care and education
systems are both deteriorating and rural unemployment is
" The Chinese understand that there is going to
be a struggle in the Bush team over how big a missile shield to
deploy and whether to treat China as a potential partner, as
Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested, or as America's next
great enemy, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld seems to
Comment: It makes a deal if difference whether or not the
missile shield is going to work at all. I'm saying it won't. On the
basis of very solid technical information. It will be possible to
show that it won't work in public. It will take some resources, and
some force, but it looks like these can be brought to bear.
- 07:35pm Aug 19, 2001 EST (#7922
" By sending the most soothing signals, and
praising the pro- China policies of the elder President Bush, the
Chinese are trying to influence that internal debate. They want to
strengthen Mr. Powell's hand and to undercut those in the Pentagon
who want to make China the new American bogeyman and the focus of
our missile defenses. (Incidentally, they are using this same
soft-spoken approach now with Taiwan.)
" The Chinese president, though, couldn't
resist sowing a little bit of doubt about the size of China's
long- range nuclear arsenal. After we noted in a question that
China had only about 20 long-range nukes, Mr. Jiang said: "To be
frank, it seems that you know how many missiles we have better
than I do. I have to say, whether the figure you give is the
correct one or not, I have doubts."
" Nevertheless, when asked how China would
respond if the hard- liners prevailed in Washington, Mr. Jiang
would issue only the mildest of threats: "We would increase our
defense capability in keeping with the development of the
international situation, and we would do this for the sole purpose
" This Chinese approach — call it strategic
warmth — has enormous support throughout Asia, and it will be
interesting now to watch how it impacts the deliberations of the
Bush team on missile defense and on China.
" As we got up to leave at the end of the
interview in Mr. Jiang's summer palace, where foreigners are
rarely invited, the Chinese leader had just one last thing to say:
"Let me quote another Chinese proverb: `It takes two hands to
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