Secret weapons

By Frances FitzGerald

Published January 25, 2001 8:46PM (EST)

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Frances FitzGerald says that "any country that attacked us would be a pile of ruins the next day." However, that's little consolation if your country is also a pile of rubble. Missile defense could potentially give the U.S. an advantage in ICBM warfare. It would be able to counteract an attack where the launcher of an ICBM decides that causing harm to the U.S. is worth being destroyed. Once a small net is up and working well, it wouldn't be too many more steps to be able to defend against China's 20 ICBMs, and an aid to defense against Russia as well.

However, it does not aid in global peace. Any country that can strike globally without fear of repercussions is a state to be wary of. It promotes an arms race so that countries could overwhelm the system. The international community already looks at the U.S. as a sort of global bully, and implementing missile defense would encourage the U.S. to further overreach their boundaries.

-- Dave Stanford

"Star Wars" missile defense systems have strong appeal because people believe that the leaders of some states that are now developing nuclear attack capability might launch an attack even if they knew their nation would be "in ruins the next day." (Think of Hitler in the bunker or the religiously inspired suicide bombers). So, we can no longer count on deterrence to protect us. But isn't it likely that with enough time, money and motivation, a nuclear or biological weapon of mass destruction could be assembled within the U.S., a few miles away from its target?

-- Lawrence Watts

As with most interviews with Frances FitzGerald, the inteviewer spends too much time deferring to her supposed "expertise" rather than critically challenging what she says. It is enough to make one wonder what Fitzgerald has done to garner such deference. First of all, how does she know that North Korea's Taepo-Dong missiles can't hit the U.S.? She obviously doesn't consider Alaska or Hawaii part of the U.S. What kind of capability will North Korea have five or 10 years from now? Ten years ago, everyone was saying the country would collapse from internal pressures. Has that happened? Not even close.

Second, she regurgitates the standard boilerplate about the ABM treaty: that it is a fixed treaty that can never be renegotiated. This ignores the fact that treaties are renegotiated all the time between countries. Why should this one be any different? What if Russia signs off on renogotiating it in exchange for drastic reductions in nuclear weapon stockpiles? Can members of the left like FitzGerald really contort themselves into thinking that this wouldn't result in the world being a safer place? Finally, if missile defense is such a pipe dream of the right, why are so many countries nervous about it? You'd think they would be joyous at the idea of the U.S. wasting billions of dollars on an unworkable system.

-- Steven Attenweiler

Who in the Senate has guts enough to be realistic about Star Wars? What friendly nations are in favor of it? England is wary -- so are all the NATO countries. Why do we poor civilians feel so helpless in the face of such foolishness?

-- Dr. S.B. Marshall

By Salon Staff

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