[FPSPACE] Missile defense explained

Brett Harrison routier@tig.com.au
Fri, 04 Jan 2002 09:24:15 +1100

NOdin wrote:

> Impunity?  Have you ever worn a suit if armor?  Knights in armor turn out
> to be more myth than reality.  I'd bet that you would not be able to pick up
> or swing that club, making the armored person perhaps the more vulnerable.
> This is going about nowhere, as analogies can sometimes go!

Sorry, Ed - the "myth" is that knights in armour were immobile & slow.  Being
involved in historical reenactment, I have had the opportunity to wear lots of
historically accurate armour of various types, and I know a lot of other people
who have, too.  It's not like that at all.  Your misconception stems from people
looking at suits of *jousting* armour (a highly specialised thing) and
extrapolating.  And it getting written up in garbled form in badly researched
books, or, more likely, a silly Hollywood movie.

The analogy stands.  What Les is pointing out is that the US is the current "Top
Nation", and behaving, albeit in its own unique style, like every Top Nation in
history - dominating trade by making the rules, exporting its culture over the
top of everyone else's, waving the big stick when its interests are threatened,
and maintaining absolute military supremacy.  Past examples include Great
Britain, Roman Empire etc.  Nothing exceptional about this - it has happened
throughout history & wuill probably continue to happen.

Top Nations do philanthropic things and expect to be loved, but other nations
tend to despise them.  Part of this is jealousy, to be sure.  Part of it is
fear.  If the Top Nation is in a completely unassailable position, it is, in the
eyes of the other nations, "beyond the law".  Who can stop it if it does
something terrible?  Nobody.  This makes other nations uneasy.

As Top Nations go, the USA has been one of the most generous and kind.  It is
also pretty fair in its dealings, as long as self-interest is not a significant
factor.  But when push comes to shove, Top Nations all behave in a certain way -
they smack you into the floor, and stomp on your head, without ifs, buts or
maybes.  And they see nothing wrong with that.  The USA is no different in this

Citizens of the Top Nation find it almost impossible to understand what it's
like not to be one.  If you're an American who has trouble understanding this,
then try to imagine for a minute that you're *not* an American.  Imagine that
you're a Frenchman, or a Saudi, or you're Chinese, and the US is walking all
over your country all the time by calling the shots, economically, militarily,
culturally.  How would you feel?

With a missile shield up, and being completely beyond any accountability, it
would certainly be nice to be a US citizen.  But most of the world doesn't have
that privilege, and is a little uneasy about the US putting itself even further
above everybody else.

Frankly, I don't have a personal opinion about this, other than the obervation
that a missile shield is going to upset a lot of other nations by (in their
eyes) making the already Top Nation "beyond the law".  This is where the "bully"
bit comes in - human nature being what it is, if you're not accountable for your
actions, who can stop you doing anything?  No-one.  So what will you do? 
Anything you damn well please.  And that's what scares everybody else.

Brett Harrison
Sydney, Australia.