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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 - 03:03pm Apr 26, 2002 EST (#1792 of 1805) Delete Message

If we rule out the impossible, we eliminate many choices, and the situation simplifies.

Possible solutions may practically jump out at us. Necessary conditions for possible solutions will jump out at us. I thought the OpEd page today was constructive, and was especially interested, at the level of logic, by the advertorial by the Anti-Defamation League Will the U.N. Fact Finders Seek All of the Facts in Jenin?

The ad says some things that are right - - but not just right from the ADL point of view.

In addition to finding facts regarding civilian casualties, the U.N. team should investigate motivations and context that is directly relevant to the civilian casualties. A thorough job of doing that would make clear how "insoluble" the situation is, how easy it is to take the facts involved, and from different points of view, produce "perfectly logical" arguments for endless conflict -- and a clear sense of how many horrors the current situation has produced, and may continue to produce.

There would be plenty of blame to go around -- fair allocations of blame would not necessarily be balanced between the adversaries - but there would be blame on all sides, and different weightings on the blame, according to different perspectives and assumptions. ADL asks (I'm deleting some "specially weighted" phrasing):

"Who is really responsible for the death and destruction in Jenin? The Israelis . . . or the Palestinians . . . . ?

How could that point be fully discussed? At the level of objective fact, and at the many levels of opinion that are connected?

Full discussion would only be possible, only be thinkable, if different positions , including contradictory positions could be stated clearly.

Stated in ways where they could be viewed side by side. Stated in interaction with consequences that are traceable, potentially checkable, and discussable.

At some levels of mechanics, geometry, and organization, these things are possible using the internet, where they were not possible before. Ideas and facts can be placed together in space and time so that people can "connect the dots" to form patterns - and discuss those patterns so that there is a reasonable chance for closure -- of for clarity about disagreements. Some patterns that make these things more possible than before are illustrated and discussed on this thread.

rshow55 - 03:05pm Apr 26, 2002 EST (#1793 of 1805) Delete Message

As things clarify, situations may look more hopeless, and fights may look both more inevitable and more intractable than before. But clarification is a necessary stage. It is important to find out what can be done. And what has to change for any humanly reasonable solution.

Sometimes, there do have to be fights. At some level. But when that happens, questions like "how much carnage is necessary, why exactly, and who is responsible?" are well worth asking.

With objective facts mostly straight (and these can mostly be agreed to) and differences about definitions and weights clear - - and with consequences reasonably clear - - the situation becomes more hopeful.

MD1786 rshow55 4/26/02 11:19am includes this:

Paradigms are shifting , and the world is looking at problems that are soluble , with attention and honesty. . . . . "Connecting the dots" -- getting facts collected in space and time, so that people can understand them, and check their understanding -- that will permit real progress.

Am I being unbearably naive? Or asking for the impossible? Perhaps. Here is what I believe. People, as individuals, and as groups, have to learn to be logically better than they are. We must do this if we are to have a better chance of surviving, if we are to have less carnage and horror, and if we are to be more decent and comfortable. The changes aren't especially complicated, but some of them are wrenching, and connected to wrenching things.

When it matters enough, we have to do the work, and show the honesty, that it takes to get consequential questions of fact straight -- and logical structures related to a situation crafted so that they fit people and circumstances workably.

We need to find or negotiate weights that might be "inconsistent" from one place to another in the logical structure -- but that are workable in the places of the logical structure where they actually exist, as they actually exist.

Plenty turns out to be impossible. We need to find structures and assumptions about morality and human conduct that are workable for the people actually involved, in the situation as it is.

Is this impossible in the Middle East? I don't think so. Plenty of people, on all sides of the conflict, know most of what needs to be done, when they think straight, with their passions under disciplined control.

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