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Madman Theory, Preemption and Nukes

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by Ragusa, Nov 11, 2003.

  1. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Nuclear deterrence in the cold war achieved stability through the well known principle of MAD, mutual assured destruction, and the knowledge that in face of this nuclear war would be plain madness. But that meant that the threat with use of nuclear weapons was senseless, so how could the threat with nukes deter? What use is a nuke when you're afraid to use it?
    That didn't get lost on cold war strategists worried about the credibility of their deterrence and they found a frivolous way out: When you appeared to seem a little out of control, a little crazy, that would give your threat a completely different credibility they concluded. That was called the "rationality of irrationality".

    * In the late 1960s Nixon found himself faced with the Vietnam war, and he was determined to finish it in US favor. If he lost or withdrew, he feared that US prestige was at stake - and the credibility of America in their various defence treaties. The way he eventually tried to get out of Vietnam was what was dubbed the "Madman Theory".
    The Madman Theory worked with the the principle of the threat of excessive force. Nixon was convinced that his power would be enhanced if his opponents thought he might use excessive force, even nuclear force. That, coupled with his reputation for ruthlessness, he believed, would suggest that he was dangerously unpredictable.
    The man to transport that image over to the enemies, Vietnam and it's weapon's provider USSR, was Kissinger. Kissingers threats that Nixon was sorta 'loco' about communism didn't much impress the Vietnamese and the choices left to Nixon were withdrawal (which he didn't want) or massive escalation (what he didn't want either).
    Nixon eventually chose a third path: He ordered a giant SAC readiness exercise, intended to make Ivan think he was playing with the nuclear trigger, and to bring the russians to stop supporting Vietnam and to make them convince the Vietnamese to agree to a solutions on Nixon's conditions. That didn't work, Vietnam did not end like Nixon had planned.

    Of course, the strategy of "rationality of irrationality" is flawed. When your enemies know your irrationality is actually quite rational you *are* predictable. Deterrence fails.

    In light of this the actual US doctrine of preemption and first (nuclear) strike looks pretty familiar. The funny thing is that the actual US administration in 9/11 found the argument they lacked before to justify the programs they had started immediately after taking office (well before 9/11 that is) : Ballistic missile defence, and development of new, low-yield nuclear weapons.
    They found it in 'deterring terrorists' and rogue states. "We need to make sure our weapons will in fact be seen by other countries as a deterrent. One element is usability. If nobody believes there is any circumstance where you will use the weapon, it is not a deterrent."
    Of course, usability has a built-in flaw: Once you establish usabilty you might get use.

    I find the rhetoric in the US on security pretty striking - axis of evil, evildoer, evil, the lonely mentioning of "crusade" - under a new "Madman Theory" approach they make perfect sense as they portray Bush as a holy warrior with a cause, who as a true new-born christian might have a genuine interest in the second coming. According to the "Madman Theory" that has value as a deterrent, and I have to admit it is indeed a chilling picture.

    Preaching non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (recent example: Iran) while actively deveoping new ones while declaring not to hesitate to use them first kinda undermines your own argument. The US are recklessly driving down a road they are telling others not to walk down. And in the sense of the "rationality of irrationality" you only play 'loco', you still aren't going to use these weapons anyway.

    Ironically, while the Bushies cultivate their new version of the "Madman Theory", Kim does the same, with better success. Leaves the hope that both adversaries may be sane.

    * Inspired by an article from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
     
  2. Grey Magistrate Gems: 14/31
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    Ragusa, you overestimate the value and rationality of MAD theory. Check out Philippe Delmas' treatment in "The Rosy Future of War". Sure, we survived the global death cult, but it could've easily gone the other way.

    I don't believe that Bush is attempting to act the madman. More like a sheriff who has put up wanted posters identifying the targets, but isn't giving word on where or when the targets will be captured. That isn't madness - certainly not in the sense of North Korea's Kim Jong-Il. I have never, ever, ever heard any US political official refer to the "Second Coming" in any respect, and anyway, even the crazy premillenial readings of the Second Coming don't have anything to do with the US nuking anyone. You've broached this idea before, Ragusa, and I'm not sure if your perception of Bush's religious lunacy is your own private lunacy or a common opinion that has inexplicable traction.

    The US is actually pretty clear about its nuclear arsenal. We keep our Cold War bombs (and post-Cold War upgrades!) for two main reasons: first, to block existing WMD arsenals; and second, to block the development of WMD arsenals by new players. The US only uses WMD to balance other WMD. The US is not going to threaten to go nuclear to solve a trade dispute, for example, the way North Korea rattles its nuclear sabres to squeeze monetary concessions from its neighbors. The US isn't even going to use nukes for invasions - we didn't bother threatening Saddam with nukes, except as a threat against his using WMD. We already have enough conventional weaponry to level any city we want, while instead we're spending billions to NOT level cities when we invade and then spending billions more to rebuild them afterwards. The US continues to upgrade its nuclear armaments and invests in ballistic missile defenses not so that we can do a first strike, but so that we can continue to deter other WMD powers. There's nothing hypocritical about preaching non-proliferation while keeping our nukes ready - our nuclear arsenal is a vital part of the non-proliferation movement.

    This may sound irrational, but it isn't. It's quite straightforward and transparent. Suppose the US stopped spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the military and reduced it to something like $50 billion. Pretty reasonable, no? Except that then other countries could conceivably keep up with our military budget, thus increasing their incentive to invest even more. Country A spending $300 billion can convince Country B to spend only $30 billion because of the futility of catching up; but if Country A reduces its spending to just $50 billion, then suddenly Country B has a reasonable opportunity to match Country A's output by increasing its own spending. Alas, that makes it tough on Country C, which now has to increase its own to keep up with B. Etc.

    Similarly with nuclear weapons. The US has a huge preponderance of nuclear military strength and has committed to maintaining a ridiculous, outrageous, extreme advantage - with the stated aim of using that outsized arsenal only to block other WMD arsenals and to slow proliferation. If the US stopped investing in missile shields and nuclear technology, it would only increase the incentive of lesser players to intensify their commitment, making life worse for everyone all around.

    Is this madness, or even pretended madness? It's quite reasonable - far more reasonable, frankly, then the suicidal death worship we indulged during the Cold War.
     
  3. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    The point is not so much having them ready while preaching non-proliferation but having announced a doctrine that endorses a preemptive nuclear first strike on everything that is *perceived* (that is, no evidence needed, strike on a possible threat before it manifests) a threat by the US. Quite a difference.

    And as for my mocking about Armageddon - I just feel it must be irresistible for a true believer. And, Neocon and Team-B style, I simply expect the worst and I'm not particularly serious about it.
     
  4. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Mu greatest fear with the subject is if it would prove that Bush the second really was a madman, or one of his successors or if anything else happened to the US government and unpleasant forces took power, things like this can happen. Then the scenario is that we have one superpower, who doesnt need to fear nuke strikes from anyone else due to their Star Wars program and who has a immense military due to spending plenty for decades for hte reasons you stated Grey Magister while the other "nice" countries around the world has cut back on their military spending. That is what I fear, it is very easy for a leadership to whip up a people to a frenzy and those that will dissent wont be heard for long.
    This might not seem like a very likely scenario and it isnt, but it is a possibility. You have all heard the phrase "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Well the US has absolute power now, they are not absolutely corrupt but if it happens who will be able to stand up to them? No one.

    *End paranoid rant*

    This rant may be slightly off-topic but I think it is atleast slightly relevant.
     
  5. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Grey,
    another thing you mentioned was the fear the US would inevitably run risk of beeing outspended if they only lower their defence budged. Maybe you should have a look at the table below (from CDI) to see how high this risk is IRL, and please mind the technological advantage the US have built up to date.</font>
    1. United States, 399.1
    2. Russia, 65.0
    3. China, 47.0
    4. Japan, 42,6
    5. UK, 38,4
    6. France 29,5
    7. Germany, 24,9
    8. Saudi Arabia, 21,3
    9. Italy, 19,3
    10. India, 15,6
    11. South Korea, 14,1
    12. Brazil, 10,7
    13. Taiwan, 10,7
    14. Israel, 10,6
    The numbers are billions. The US outspends every perceivable rival almost more than 6 times. Add every perceivable rival together, let's say: Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and India, that becomes 2,6 times. But the US aren't even alone, their *allies* contribution added, they together outspend the rivals easily by 4 times again.
    I remember stumbling over Germany's Leopard-2 on the website of a US-Navy helicopter squadron, listed as a threat system, a tank used by NATO allies alone. I think you carry that spirit too.
     
  6. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    As to the U.S. spending on national defense you are missing a very large piece of the puzzle.

    In the U.S. the military is used as a form of welfare. The majority of the military is made up of minorities. These minorities use the military to find employment and gain job skills that they may not have had the opportunity to get elsewhere.

    I am the treasurer of our local Cub Scout pack and we have quite a few military families that are members of the pack. It is quite interesting to speak with them. A large percentage will tell you that they owe everything they have to the military. Their kids are being educated far better than where they are from. They have learned skills that they plan to use in the civilian workforce.

    The military is also used as white collar welfare too. The military spends fortunes in research and development which keeps scientists, engineers, and doctors working. Did anyone see the 20/20 segment where they were showing the artificial limbs they were making for wounded soldiers?

    The peaceniks who would rather take that $399.1 billion and give it to the homeless are forgetting a very ancient proverb. "If you give a man a fish he will have a meal. If you teach a man to fish he will always have a meal"

    P.S. my wrist is getting better
     
  7. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    I'm not sure if you're aware that the defense spending for personnel actually is some stout 93,4 billion, and some additional 4.2 billion for military housing. The remaining 300 billion are for other purposes, like research and procurement of advanced weapon systems (all numbers taken from CDI's "US Military Budged" section).

    I think the term welfare is a little far fetched after that. Even more when you consider that soldiers in the US, the pride of the nation, fighting at the front in the war on terror, not seldom have to rely on food stamps at home.
    I have to say your view of the military actually being a big charity is quite original.

    EDIT: You're aware that all the other defense budgeds, like that of Russia, China and others, do also invest in research, education, even payment of soldiers? The point is just the size of the US defense budged in comparison, not at all that it would be better spend elsewhere. Not the point here.
    And besides, the budged issue is leading us a little ... :yot: ... this thread is devoted to nukes, the new national security strategy and the madman theory.

    PS: Get well.

    [ November 12, 2003, 16:27: Message edited by: Ragusa ]
     
  8. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    The Great Snook - You forgot to mention Dick Cheney and his cronies at Halliburton. They need their government welfare checks also.

    And welcome back! Glad to hear that your wrist is healing well.
     
  9. Grey Magistrate Gems: 14/31
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    Ragusa, my theoretical example (Country A vs. Country B) envisioned the US spending ten times its nearest rival. A ratio of six-to-one sounds dangerously close!

    But perhaps we should also factor in the US' vast military-industrial complex, which partly sustains itself by commercial operations and also supplying war materiel to other countries. That infrastructure could be quickly revved up to pump out even more materiel if the need arose. The other six top spenders have similar infrastructure investments, especially Japan. So the possible output of the top six spenders is even higher than at first glance. The fact that #2-6 aren't constructing at full capacity is partly because of American preponderance.

    A better example than comparing the absolute numbers would be the relative numbers. The US spends something less than 5% of its GNP on the military - a higher percentage than Europe, but much lower than most other countries or even the historical US average. America spends more (in absolute dollar amounts) on security for the same reason that Citibank spends more on security than your local bank - there's more to protect!

    The Great Snook, the US military is a social support in some small respect, but much less than in other countries like Europe and Africa which are manpower-heavy but technologically-underinvested. Honestly, if we need to distribute job skills and welfare cash, there are much more efficient means than the military. Probably the best social support is the military's opportune removal of males from society just when they are at their highest probability for criminality - but that could be done just as effectively by conscripting males into service organizations. (I think Germany has a similar program, no?)

    Joacqin once suggested I have a Sid Meierish "Civilization" mindset, so in that spirit, let me disabuse any possible illusions. The military is a drag on the economy. You don't become wealthy by building weapons. Even the much-touted R&D benefits from military research are few and far between - and anyway, they would've been more efficiently developed commercially had the resources been peacefully invested. One of the worst things you can do is build up your military at the expense of the rest of your society - look at yesterday's USSR and today's Pakistan for painful examples. If I had my utopian way, we wouldn't have weapons or wars or any of this expensive nonsense.

    But in light of the challenges facing America today, the huge defense budget and the nuclear arsenal are entirely rational. No "madman" elements necessary. Nor even "paranoid rants" about fears that the US may someday go berzerk. By that logic, the US has every reason to fear that ITS allies may someday go berzerk, and thus all the more reason to continue outspending even nominal allies.
     
  10. Iago Gems: 24/31
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    Yes, those overseas commitments are expensive. The British and French have those too, that's why their percentage expenditure is pretty high. As for defence of Europe, I think the money invested is pretty accurate to the danger situation. The Russians propably won't launch an attack anytime soon, toilet paper is much to high on the priority list. And as long the do not have some kind of military dictatorship, they won't anyway. Anyone else hungry for military strikes versus Europe ???? And remotely capable to do it ? No. Well, the USA of course possess this capality. And as long as the US isn't seen as immediate threat, i.e. hostile nation, I don't see any reason for rising military expenditure in Europe.

    That is, maybe Iraq would have sent 100 rusty tanks ?

    I think the Great Snook and I agree here for once. And indeed, I wished Europeans would make a similar thing, i.e. invest more money in education. The US pumps much more public money into education then any European country :eek: :eek: . That is very good for the Americans and a shame for Europeans, in my opinion.

    And the investion in high-tech weapons is indeed nothing else as funding of high-tech education and high-tech innovation.

    And with the comparision between a volunteer system and a conscription system. A conscriptions system uses the civil skills of people, i.e. a mechanic will be a mechanic in the military. A volunteer system has to give something to the people it recruits, i.e. a person can become mechanic because the military offers this education. The chance to get an education or to get a job is the primary reason to sign up for the military, afaik.

    Conscription has nothing to do with job-market directly. It is something you have to do. And possible skills you learn is K-K-K (****-****-**** -> Command, control, correct) and have a nice time with glacier-camping. Oh, yeah, and you get a rifle.

    I think the NATO thing had roughly this strategy. The Americas bring the fire-power, the Europeans bring the man-power, i.e. the cannon fodder.

    So, conscription has nothing to do with social-support or welfare, contrary to volunteer-system. Conscription is a pretty expensive hobby and costs a lot of working-hours in private companies by people who have the duty to show up in the barracks.
     
  11. Mithrantir Gems: 15/31
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    Grey Magistrate can you post here what are the threats USA faces today and the reasons for each one? I would like to see your point of view on this subject in order to begin analyzing the need for such a frenzy racing in R&D in weapons.
    And don't forget that recently USA congress allowed the spenting of another big sum of money in research for new type of nukes. I would be happy to see your point of view in these subjects.
     
  12. Grey Magistrate Gems: 14/31
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    Thanks, Mithrantir, for your invitation! I fear we're drifting from pure nuclear deterrence to military deterrence in its most basic sense - sorry, Ragusa, but I can't resist a direct invitation to respond. I'm so easy to provoke!

    If anyone is interested in the gritty details, check out this official link:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.pdf

    The US government is pret' transparent about its hopes and fears - maybe even a little TOO transparent. Here's a quote:

    The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology. Our enemies have openly declared that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and evidence indicates that they are doing so with determination. The United States will not allow these efforts to succeed.

    That's danger #1. I don't mean to sound callous, but the three thousand dead from 9/11 are nothing compared to what would happen if a baby nuke went off in a city. For years, American strategists assumed that there was an "upper limit" to the bodycount and monetary value of terrorist targets - terrorist groups would bleed opponents a few deaths at a time, but would limit their destruction to keep from inviting massive retaliation. Al-Qaeda guessed differently, and the US strategy is to remind the world's would-be terrorists that the upper limit was there for an excellent reason.

    Danger #2 is that the same could happen to our allies. Suppose Pyongyang decides to roll across the DMZ, and threatens to lob a nuke into Tokyo unless it blocks US intervention. Or suppose al-Qaeda targets the Saudi ruling clique because it has befriended the US. It's a perverse circle: we want to make friends and work multilaterally whenever possible; but each new friend is a new vulnerability that may be held hostage. So unless the US wants to commit to complete unilateralism, it has to pay for the (indirect) protection of its allies. Hence massive outlays to militarily subsidize friends in South Korea, Japan, Israel, Germany, etc.

    Danger #3 is that state-to-state warfare hasn't disappeared. Terrorism is a deadly distraction, but the US is well on its way to defeating it. This isn't naive - look at piracy. We still have muggers and thieves and even a few oil pirates in Indonesia, but by and large piracy has been eliminated. The days when pirates could hijack whole island-states are gone - and the ability of terrorists to hijack weak countries like Afghanistan and Somalia is fading quickly. But state-to-state warfare is the one constant of human history, and it would be criminally negligent for any country - American or otherwise - to forget that.

    Look at Africa - we have more than three million dead in the Congo, from what some have called Africa's equivalent to the First World War. The fighting has destabilized Zimbabwe, which in turn is destabilizing neighbors South Africa and Namibia. Burundi is still in civil war, and Rwanda is ruled by a military justly paranoid of its own people. Liberia is crawling with peacekeepers well-experienced in the Nigerian method of peacekeeping, ECOMOG ("Every Car Or Moving Object Gone"). The same sort of bloody-minded chaos could break out elsewhere - a South America overrun by Chavez-style demagogues; a China wracked by post-Communist civil war, or a conflict with an independent Taiwan; a Pakistan-India blow-up; a Russian implosion; further flareup in Central Asia; etc., etc.

    To put it bluntly: After the military horrors of the past three millennia, even if we forgive our enemies, we can never forgive humanity itself. The world is too evil to be treated with only carrots.

    When the Cambrian measures were forming, we were promised perpetual peace.
    They swore if we gave up our weapons, then the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed, they sold us, and delivered us bound to the foe -
    and the gods of the Copybook Headings said, "Stick to the devil you know."


    Danger #4 is more complicated: ideologically, the US is demoralized by high death tolls of citizens in enemy nations. All that fancy weaponry is useless if you don't have the will to use it, and the US - for good or ill - bases much of its will on whether or not "innocents" will be killed. So the US has to spend hundreds of billions in extra technology to compensate for its compassion. It is little appreciated, even by Americans, how much cost and complication this compunction makes. But it was appreciated by the Iraqis, which is one reason why ammunition was emplaced in schools and hospitals, and why zealous Americans flew into Baghdad to serve as "human shields".

    Even much of the much-feared nuclear upgrade is intended, perversely, to make nuclear weapons "safer" for "innocents". One example is the retooling of a nuclear warhead to serve as a bunker-busting bomb. You don't need to spend billions on extra R&D to increase the killing power of a nuke - if America just wanted to lay waste and kill people, a few obsolete nukes from some rusting silo will suffice. Even France has enough nuclear power to destroy the world twice over. (Vive la France!)

    So that's the sum of it. America wants to be safe, keep its pals safe, prevent another world war, and incidentally keep a clean conscience. That's quite a shopping list. Maybe one of those four should be dropped from the list to save money?
     
  13. Iago Gems: 24/31
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    Hm, forget about that. Yes, policemen of the world. That ofcourse is an expensive job. This would justify miltary spending (next to that it is a social-welfare and subventioning of sicence program). Happy are those on whose shoulders doesn't rest the future of the planet.
     
  14. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    As for the feeling to need to outspend everyone, because even allies can't be trusted, to preemptively attack perceived evils and so forth - a comment by Zbigniew Brzezinski. He asks the interesting question: "Paradoxically, American power worldwide is at its historic zenith while its global political standing is at its nadir. Why?"

    This man, despite his name, is not a commie, but was national security advisor to Jimmy Carter. The article is titled To lead, U.S. must give up paranoid policies - Power and Insecurity.

    Worth a read.
     
  15. Mithrantir Gems: 15/31
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    Thanks Grey for responding to this invitation. I would like to go on these subject one by one (meaning one in each post) if you may, because i would like to close one topic before begining another.
    First of all this does not specifies who is the enemy. Better yet it indetifies as an enemy anyone who is trying to R&D weapons of mass destruction or tries to upgrade the already possesed ones. But this is a little ironic. How can you expect not to R&D new WMDs from nations that do not bode well with the USA policies and feel threatened? They see that US is updating their armoury and they feel it's proper(better yet they are obliged) to do the same. So this statement only shows the two level approach there is currently as a USA foreign policy "either with us or against us". And what about the states that want to be neutral? Can they research and develop WMDs? I think not as the statement says.
    By developing new weapons you cause the need to other countries too to develop new weapons.
    Not to mention the example of Pakistan and India, which both now are posssesing nuclear missiles and other goodies and they have a hidden war going on in Kasmir (imagine what can happen if things get out of hand). But i never heard Bush designating them as part of the Axis of evil. But NK, which is ruled by a tyrant and yes MAY be a potent threat, is an axis of evil country because the regime is communist and not US controlled? You may disagree but to me it sounds a lot like this. As for the threats against Japan by NK were just for the fuss and we all know it. NK has not yet nuclear weapons and most propably will never manage to get some since there are more demanding problems within the state. It is just that they tried to gain something out of nothing using the new title it was given to them by mr Bush.
    As for the most allies of USA i would tell you that if the US global inteference was not so massive and especially in matters of state i guarantee you there would be no threat whatsoever for potent attacks. We must not forget either that most attacks in cities outside US, target US buildings, units and companies of USA interests. So... not a direct attack on the country herself, but a direct attack on the USA interests and image.
    These are my humble thoughts i would like to see your answer and thoughts on this so we may continue with this or move on.
     
  16. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    To know who the enemy is actually is key to define a prudent defence. Brzezinski put it nicely, saying:
    Bush's "war on terror" is a hollow, nonsensical phrase.

    In a war on terror outspending enemies and spending billions on massive and precise firepower is pretty pointless when you can't find the enemy, or don't even know who you face. And that's not a question of having not spent enough - like on advanced sensors. Spending $ 50.000.000 for a middle east language & culture school probably better secures the US than procurement of a single fighter jet, and cheaper too.

    In the end ever increasing european defence spending after the 1910s led into an arms race and then into World War I. And you don't avoid that arms race by spending so much so fast that the others can't compete.
    Further, a 'terrorist' doesn't need high tech, he can kill hundrets with a well placed truck, a tank of gasoline and a few hundret pounds of fertilizer, worth a few thousand dollar. He can threaten you so much that you end up spending billions - all by using low tech. You don't need to outspend them, you anyway do so already, and it is them who will liklely be the major threat to the US for the future.

    The idea that a high defence spending automatically guarantees security looks nice on paper but is deeply flawed. I wouldn't buy in on it.

    [ November 18, 2003, 14:21: Message edited by: Ragusa ]
     
  17. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    Ragusa - Yes, but Americans respond well to those kinds of slogans. During Reagan's time it was the "war on drugs" and "just say no." It sounds simplistic but it works. It's like "no child left behind," as the slogan for education that is supposed to get attention. For Reagan it was the return to the three "Rs" in education. But these ideas are not really their own. They are created by political consultants, party strategists and media firms. The politician is just the front man for a number of different interest groups. Republicans are very good at this kind of nonsense. That is because in a serious debate on the issues they don't do very well. Because this has been so successful for them, the dems have tried it also. But they are not very good at it. The "me too" approach has really hurt them big time.

    Remember in the so called big debate with Gore and Shrub, there was the issue on foreign polciy. The stage was set by the media claiming that Gore would clean-up the place with Shrub. Shrub's people flew everyone but his uncle (including Powell) into Austin airport to get him ready. In the debate, Shrub went on about how he would never engage in "nation building" or that American troops would never be committed anywhere without a "clear exit strategy first." In short he said all the right things and what some of us are arguing for right now, since he has done the complete reverse. But he impressed voters during the deabte for two reasons: First, what he said made sense, and second, no one expected him to make sense. Gore was completely struck and left only agreeing.

    But Shrub never meant it any of it anyway. He was only repeating what he had been told to say. Now, that he has done the opposite, some are saying that we should consider his policy. Yeah, right. I guess some never tire of being "fooled again."
     
  18. Grey Magistrate Gems: 14/31
    Latest gem: Chrysoberyl


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    Thanks, Mithrantir, for indulging me - especially a point-by-point analysis! By all means, let's walk through this exactly as you recommend, at your pace.

    You and Ragusa make a good point - there is no enemy specified, but rather a type of danger. But the "war on terror" is not, as you put it, Ragusa, "a hollow, nonsensical phrase". It truly is a war on terror as a technique. As I wrote in my original post:

    The world is full of people full of hostility and hate. We can't do much of anything about that, short of putting LSD in the drinking water. The key is to make sure that the hostility and hate doesn't turn murderous on a massive scale. We have snipers in the streets, disgruntled employees shooting up their workplaces, postal workers going berzerk, etc. But society can "absorb" a certain amount of random death - each murder is a tragedy, but it would be impossible to prevent it all.

    But what we CAN do is prevent massive death. And that's by reminding the world's haters that if they want to blow themselves up, fine - but don't plot to take out more than a few hundred victims, or you're signing the death warrant of yourself, your comrades, and your cause. Organized terror neds organizers, and we need to put the fear of death in the souls of would-be organizers of massive murder.

    Mithrantir, you write this about the US defense policy:

    But the US defense policy specifically identifies that the danger is "at the crossroads of radicalism and technology". The "radicalism" bit is critical. Which is more dangerous - North Korea with one nuclear bomb, or France with a thousand? Al-Qaeda with a chemical device, or Exxon-Mobil with vats of toxins? The US isn't calling for sanctions against Britain or demanding that UN inspectors go to Russia, because no one seriously suspects that they would use these weapons or sell them to those that would use them. Only a very few countries qualify for this limited classification - Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are on the short list. India and Pakistan aren't in the "Axis of Evil" because they aren't targeting the US and aren't likely to sell their nukes to terrorists.

    Mithrantir, you write:

    And Ragusa, you add a historical example:

    But the opposite - that spending LESS would make us more secure - ain't so. Sure, Europe spun itself into an arms race prior to the First World War - but that arms race was decades in the making, so it's difficult to pin it as the main cause of the war. (The war was, as the theorists say, "overdetermined".) But after the Great War, every European country pushed down its defense spending. The very lack of military investment was one reason that Hitler (and Chamberlain) thought Germany could get away with successive successful annexations.

    We make too much of the First World War "arms race" example. Historically and globally, the pattern is for a massive hegemon that militarily dominates an area - ancient China, the Ottomans, Byzantium, Rome, etc. Such situations don't spark arms races - they stifle them. Nor do tight conflicts necessarily spark arms races - look at the colonial scrambles for Africa or India. Or even today's India-Pakistan rivalry - India's commitment to high defense spending is not being matched by Pakistan precisely because they know they can't possibly match it. (In fact, some Indian defense theorists wish that Pakistan WOULD try to match it, because otherwise they may become too dependent on a nuclear deterrent.)

    You're right, Ragusa - higher spending does not guarantee security. Nor does lower spending guarantee insecurity. It all matters on the dangers and enemies at the time. Ideologically, the American obsession with capitalism and democracy makes for the healthiest hegemon in history, and the mix of radicalism and WMD technology makes for some of the deadliest enemies in history. Hence the very real, and very expensive, war on terror.

    One final point, in closing...as you write, Mithrantir:

    The most recent al-Qaeda threat against Japan was specifically against Japanese targets, not American. When North Korea sent a missile flying over Japan, it wasn't meant to rattle McDonalds. Passionate haters attack symbolic American targets, but the ruthless know to aim for the hostage himself.

    Oh, and Chandos - I've been in favor of nation-building for a long time (including Clinton's work in Haiti and Kosovo). His foreign-policy positions during the debates distressed me and I'm very glad that he's since changed his mind.
     
  19. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    Grey - I don't believe that Bush changed his mind, even as a result of 9/11. This idea of the "axis of evil" was something they were cooking from the beginning. The problem is that US has decided to become the moral guardian of the world. The US is now in a position of power to the extent that it now dictates to the rest of the world who the evil-doers are and they are using pre-emptive force on nations that the administration defines as "evil." This is certainly not a tradition that has been favored by most Americans in the past. Both Washigton and Adams warned against this kind of entanglement.

    Clinton really did not use it in Kosovo because he went under the guise of a NATO operation to accomplish the removal of a dictator who was as close to the edge as any at the time. If Bush had used such a clever guise he could have pulled off his Iraqi operation much easier. But, his administration believes that Europe is now only of marginal significance in US strategy. Of course as poorly as the war is going, they may now be getting the hint that Europe is not quite as marginal as they once believed.

    North Korea and Iran are definitely in the cross-hairs and they are biding their time on NK. Really, Iran will probably be next. It is the Bush Madman view that America (policy makers) dictates the morality of other countries and anyone who does not agree must be against us and thus, like the French and Germans, worthy of our contempt.

    There is no "war on terror," but only an over-arching policy of the removal of countires from the map that are seen as those who have overtly demostrated contempt towards the US. What these three countries have in common is that they have thumbed their noses and scoffed at American power and prestige in the past - they are the worst offenders.

    Bush is hardly engaged in nation building, for he could care less about democracy here in America, let alone in Iraq. And the oil was only an added bonus. This is really about the exercise of American power, and because we have a moral obligation to rid the world of "evil," whether the rest of the world wants us to or not. If he had talked this kind of nonsense during the debate he would not be prez today. As Ragusa has said in the past: "9/11 was a gift to these guys."
     
  20. Mithrantir Gems: 15/31
    Latest gem: Waterstar


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    Well Grey i agree with you that neither decreased spenting in weapons production is providing more security.
    I believe though that you agree that the building and continuous investing on good relationships with the rest of the world does the trick. But this is a less than perfect world and many parameters sum up to define a good relationship. I told that increased spenting for military systems makes other countries feel uneasy and itchy. Don't forget that USA is looking to the rest of the world like a powerfull giant with the ability to strike anywhere and in any time. This so far was not so big deal untill since 9/11 the USA is engaged in a constant warfare (either literall or metaphorical). The fact that the biggest military power of the world is feeling nervous and feisty is making many nation leaders feel uncomfortable as far as it concerns their nations future. And the fact that USA is not only using but is also R&D weapons of mass destruction is another parameter that increases the alarm factor.
    Difficult to answer this i would say all are dangerous at about the same level since the goal here is not only not to be threatened as humans but to ensure a well protected enviroment for the Human race. I would go further and tell you that USA and the extensive use of bombs with uranium ( i can't remember the exact name\description), is the greatest danger at this time in this world. And maybe you don't feel it but the people of Serbia, Afganistan, Iraq feel it and in a couple of years will start to see the outcome to (sadly).
    And if the use intesional use of this kind of weaponry is not radical and shows no concern for the future of the country and its people, while the administration of the attacking force says we are here to help you, then i can't understand what radical and extreme is.
    I agree for the capitalism obsession but i think that Democracy is something that needs a lot of discussion. I hear a lot of speeches but i see the quite opposite intentions in actions. Sorry but this is what i see from here.
    And one more point, these radical elements were people that were initially supported and were given the opportunity to become what they are now by the USA administrations. Bin Laden would be another businessman or graphical figure without the CIA education, Hussein would be dead or just another small party member were not the US administration support to the BAATH party. There are more examples of this and you know it.
    Most of the attacks i have wrote not all. and secondly these countries (and Turkey) are being targeted because of the help and support to the USA plans.
     
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