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Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's
war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars"
defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make
the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an
application of science be successful? Is a militarized space
inevitable, necessary or impossible?
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(214 previous messages)
- 10:41am Mar 5, 2002 EST (#215
A related question involves missile defense. Suppose that very
many of the people involved in missile defense, at various levels,
know that it is a fiasco and a fraud, at tactical levels that are
vital for military function.
By now, almost everybody involved has to "know" that to some
degree, and some levels. The situation bears some resemblance to the
story of "The Emperor's New Clothes." . . . People see, yet deny.
They deny for real reasons. By now, "missile defense" is an
integral part of an entire subculture -- involving complicated
socio-technical relations, contractual relations, fictions, the
sustenance of many people, and ideas of all kinds. Ideas used to
explain, to order, and to justify -- ideas vigorously defended, and
in many cases strongly believed. How is the thing to be taken
down, in workable human terms?
Apart from the morality of the thing, I think it is clear that
people really don't know how to do so. Not in ways that are
acceptable in the world as it is, with powers and arrangements as
they actually are.
Many of the worst muddles and tragedies in the world, including
wars, have a monotonous, dreary horror to them. Human systems,
organized in part on the basis of fictions, often go slam-banging
into disaster. Often produce gruesomely ugly results -- including
gross wastes, and terrible crimes.
We don't know enough about why to change some awful, dangerous
Bill Casey worried a lot about that. He knew we needed an "end
game" for the Cold War, and didn't have it.
- 10:49am Mar 5, 2002 EST (#216
Here, I think, indignation is useful, if it is under control.
But a sense of wonder at intellectual aspects of the muddles and
horrors is useful, too. People are making certain kinds of messes
with horrible regularity.
This seemed vividly clear to Bill Casey, and he made it seem
vivid to me. We don't know how to make peace, under most of the
complicated circumstances we really face.
Horrors and wastes that make no "rational" sense at all go on and
on, and occur again and again, for reasons that we don't understand
in enough detail to fix the problems.
In medicine, people believe that if you understand a disease, you
can find a way to cure it -- and that's often been shown to be
Maybe, if we knew enough, we could cure some of the "hostility
between nations" -- or at least reduce the damage.
Almarst's question was a profound one -- and one not
- 10:58am Mar 5, 2002 EST (#217
Northern Europe has Superheros
- 11:25am Mar 5, 2002 EST (#218
We face problems that are moral, emotional, and intellectual at
once. A great speech by Queen Elizabeth, cited in http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@@.ee7726f/612
deals with the moral and emotional part:
" Every one of us needs to believe in the value
of all that is good and honest; we need to let this belief drive
and influence our actions." http://www.royalinsight.gov.uk/current/speech/
There were some similar ideas, with much more emphasis on the
intellectual side, in an undelivered speech by Franklin D.
Roosevelt, written shortly before his death:
" Today, we are faced with the pre-eminent fact
that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science
of human relationships --- the ability of all peoples, of all
kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at
This quote was on the last page of the American Heritage
Picture History of World War II , by C.L. Sulzberger and
the editors of American Heritage , published in 1966.
Roosevelt was one of the most militarily effective presidents the
US ever had. No patsy. No stranger to the use of force. Steadily, he
had better military judgement than any other political leader in
WWII - and the organizational and political gifts to make his
He also initiated the Manhattan Project. I wonder if he would
have made the decisions about Hiroshima, and later about the H bomb
that Truman made.
We need weapons, and effective military forces --- but within
limits that make human sense. And the "ability of all peoples, of
all kinds, to live together and work together in the same world, at
peace" is still essential - and will continue to be.
I wonder it the world would be better, had Roosevelt lived years
longer. It would, surely, be a different place in some ways.
I think perhaps so. But some of the problems that have occurred
since his time have been due to the fact that, in key ways, we don't
have a good enough "science of human relationships."
We need to have more understanding of what humane action takes,
and also what dangerous animals human beings are. Suicide bombers
are one example, of many, or how fiercely and cruelly people can
fight. Our own "suicide bombers" -- including the people in our
nuclear missile silos, on alert 24 hours a day -- are equally
How can human beings, who do so much so impressively, go so
For a more efficient and humane world, we need to understand
"man's inhumanity to man" better than we do.
And understand fiascos like the US missile-defense program, and
the politics around it, better than we do.
- 02:13pm Mar 5, 2002 EST (#219
Seems there's a need for a quality index to be used
when looking at countries .. with an emphasis on infrastructural
development rungs. This index should indicate the true and immediate
needs of the country and record timely assistance offered and
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