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 [F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  /

    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.

Earliest Messages Previous Messages Recent Messages Outline (5166 previous messages)

gisterme - 04:37pm Oct 23, 2002 EST (# 5167 of 5174)

rshow55 10/23/02 3:02pm

"Well, we're agreed that it would be good to get rid of weapons of mass destruction.

But that can only happen, as a practical matter, with broad agreement."

What does the term broad agreement mean to you, Robert? Does that mean that everybody is in agreement? Can't mean that. That would be unanimous agreement.

So in a group does a numerical majority who are in agreement constitute broad agreement? No? How about eleven out of a group of 12 in agreement? How about 99 out of 100 in agreement? Would that be broad agreement?

Guess any of those definitions broad agreement means almost nothing. The whole world might agree that Saddam Hussein is a bloody tyrant but unless he cares enough to stop being a bloody tyrant the broad agreement of everybody else is meaningless.

In a jury, eleven of twelve can agree that a person is guilty but the one dissident is enough to prevent the conviction.

If the vast majority of a group of fools agrees that a foolish thing is not foolish...that doesn't make the thing not foolish.

Why do you say broad agreement is needed as if that is some sort of end in itself?

"...For myself, I wonder how many people around the world consider the US blameless for the deaths in Iraq due to the sanctions..."

Why do you wonder that, Robert? Anyone who knows the facts knows that the US is blameless. Saddam could have ended those sanctions at any time by doing the very same thing that he says he's going to do now... honor UN resolutions he agreed to at the end of the Gulf War. I hope he does.

But, why would Saddam put his people through all the hell they've been through just to relent when his own personal power becomes threatened? The man is a sadist. He's done this before. After years of war with Iran and thousands of Iraqi lives lost for tiny territorial gains, Saddam gave those territories back to Iran just before the Gulf War. How must the families of those lost young men have felt when their tyrant gave back the territory that they'd been told they sacreficed their sons for? Saddam is irrational. He just likes to see suffering and blood spilling. It makes him feel god-like to know it's in his power to cause them.

I takes a bit more than broad agreement to deal with irrationality.

commondata - 04:43pm Oct 23, 2002 EST (# 5168 of 5174)

gisterme 10/23/02 2:51pm

And your statement was quite untrue. What you said was:

More Iraqis were killed in the Gulf War than have been killed by all weapons of mass destruction.

Bert Sacks took a journey in 1998 to deliver medicine to Iraq. Interviewed by Mazza (no, can't be) he's well worth reading here:

UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund is one of the sources of these statistics. (Data from a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization study placed the overall death toll of sanctions to December 1995 at 567,000 children under the age of five.)

"The most thorough scientific-medical study that I'm aware of was done in 1991, covering the first eight months after the end of the Gulf War. The report which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in September 1992 said that 47,000 children under the age of five had died in those eight months. That comes to roughly 6,000 children every month. So from multiple sources, this clearly comes to hundreds of thousands of children's lives. It may be argued whether the number is 400,000, or as the Chicago Tribune put in a front page story of March this year, 700,000. But beyond any reasonable doubt the number of children who have died is many times more than the number of soldiers who died, and more than all the people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

"...I am able to see very clearly that I am living in a country where a great many people have learned not to care about what's right and what's wrong."

And yet Gisterme, you've never heard of more than 100,000 people being killed deliberately by US policy?

I think your problem with your figures may be that you've bought into the Iraqi propaganda that blames present sanctions on the US. The blame for those sanctions and the suffering and loss of life that may be associated with them lies squarely at the feet of Saddam Hussein as you well know.

So I suppose it doesn't matter whether it's 100,000, 700,000 or 20,000,000 people who were killed and are being killed deliberately by US policy? What's a few naughts between friends? - it's their fault anyway. I've watched Saddam as often as you and I'd be delighted to see the back of that regime. But you are wrong to make 22 million people culpable.

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