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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?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

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rshow55 - 04:36pm Apr 17, 2002 EST (#1424 of 1450) Delete Message

Now I think you're being the idealist.

People, to live together without fighting, have to be able to communicate. They need to be "reading off the same page" - - "connecting the same dots" - - - and issues that have to be settled for the complex cooperation close, interconnected living takes have to be discussed - - discussed honestly -- and discussed to closure that works well enough for the cooperation that is actually involved.

Things are a long way from that.

People (as individuals and groups) fight - - and are prepared kill and to sacrifice their own lives -- rather than agree to a situation that they cannot imagine for themselves, and for their group, as they are.

Arrangements have to be made, that work for the parties involved, that are livable -- not a series of fights waiting to happen -- and certain to happen.

Separate states might work - I think they could work -- and on terms that Friedman and many Palestinians and Arabs agree about (at least broadly).

A wholesale elimination of misunderstanding and hatred, much as it might be desirable in an abstract sense, seems to me to be an "inhuman" solution -- for the real, feeling, lying, human beings involved.

It seems to me that for any peace, there has to be more communication, and less lying, on both sides, than exists in the current situation.

rshow55 - 04:45pm Apr 17, 2002 EST (#1425 of 1450) Delete Message

In my opinion, and the opinion of a lot of other people, Friedman is a genius, and one of the most productive working intellectuals in the United States. You've had many objections to his work, and I know some are passionate objections. We discussed some of them at length last year, with respect to Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree which was subtitled "Understanding Globalization" and might well have been subtitled "Overselling Globalization."

I think some of the worst things you can say about Friedman, and some of the best, are on display in that book. As an incomplete set of ideas -- that book was very good -- and if problems that Friedman did not adress had not intervened - some of the very good, optimistic results Friedman predicted would have happened. They didn't because, though the technical barriers to communication are vastly less than they used to be -- the human barriers to communication - and the human failings -- remain.

Even so, when Friedman says something hopeful and specific - - it is likely to be worth very careful consideration. It is also likely to be incomplete -- and if there are problems Friedman doesn't take into account -- those problems have to be surmounted.

A lot of people, including major Arab leaders, listen hard to Friedman. It seems to me that they are right to do so.

Friedman thinks that breakthrough ideas can often be important and constructive. I agree with him. Of course, they have to be right, and checked.

rshow55 - 04:56pm Apr 17, 2002 EST (#1426 of 1450) Delete Message

almarst-2001 4/17/02 4:30pm

" I see the World with much more cynical and critical eyes. I see that the ultimate Truth is dictated by the prevealing Force. As suitable. That there is no such thing as MORALITY above the position of street-cleaner. For better or worst."

Morality makes a great deal of difference. But what is "moral" depends on facts and relations that are believed . That puts a great burden of responsibility on the press.

The United States is an old country, politically, and many of our ideals trace back to the early days, where people, though often hypocritical in some ways, sometimes made good sense in others.

Thomas Jefferson felt that if only a country had a strong, independent press -- people would almost always make pretty reasonable decisions. In fact, that's often true. We've been talking a lot about limitations on that idea, in a "culture of lying" built to weaken the ability of the press to tell the truth. But there may be hope of progress - especially since there is now an enormous amount of communication between different countries, and different press organizations, all over the world.

Sometimes, morality counts for a great deal, and people behave very well. The NYT has often been involved in such cases. A lot of problems DO get pretty well solved, step by step. Some aspects of the ENRON case show examples.

It may be that the risks of carnage from war are going down significantly, right now, it seems to me.

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