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    Missile Defense

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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rshow55 - 10:41am Mar 5, 2002 EST (#215 of 223) Delete Message

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 things.

Bill Casey worried a lot about that. He knew we needed an "end game" for the Cold War, and didn't have it.

rshow55 - 10:49am Mar 5, 2002 EST (#216 of 223) Delete Message

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 correct.

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 satisfactorily answered.

lchic - 10:58am Mar 5, 2002 EST (#217 of 223)

Northern Europe has Superheros too

rshow55 - 11:25am Mar 5, 2002 EST (#218 of 223) Delete Message

We face problems that are moral, emotional, and intellectual at once. A great speech by Queen Elizabeth, cited in 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."

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 peace."

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 judgement work.

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 sobering examples.

How can human beings, who do so much so impressively, go so wrong?

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.

lchic - 02:13pm Mar 5, 2002 EST (#219 of 223)

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 from whom/where.

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