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Old 05-25-2004, 07:30 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 357
Default Can you (we) afford to be wrong?

I was reading this article on the weekend which reminded me of the various things I've read over the years on nuclear weapons. This brings me to the obvious question, can we afford to be wrong? What's the price of failure?

There's a lot of partisanship around and IMO a lot of blinders being worn. What is going to be the price of playing political smartarse to win elections etc etc on either side of the political fence?

9/11 was a large tragedy but from a pessimistic (realistic?) perspective it's just the tip of an iceberg. IMO a terrorist organisation, be it Al Qaeda or someone else is less than 10 years away from securing a few nukes, be they sold from Pakistan, North Korea, the old Soviet bloc, some Brussels arms fair or self-built, it someone wants it bad enough they'll get it. If they get caught it'll just be the next lot.

Let's see, I'm a crazed terrorist with a nuke or two to burn, what are my favourite targets? Well lets start with the obvious:
1) Los Angeles or New York - obvious massive strike at those I hate
2) Tel Aviv - not Jerusalem the holy city but Israel's political and economic capital
3) A US allied state - London (no 1), Berlin, Tokyo, Sydney etc - just to show you what happens if you side with our enemies.

I guess I'm just sad in some ways, I see everyone playing political games from Bush & Kerry all the way down to this wacko little message board. Consider the unbelievable loss of human life and economic devastation of such an event, potentially millions dead or homeless in a tight packed city like NY and an economic disaster the likes of which we've never seen. You could say it's just scare mongering or doomsaying and yeah sure it is to some degree but at the end of the day the option is available and if someone hates or despairs long enough and hard enough they can use it.

It's like any risk assessment process you've got two sides; 1) Likelihood and 2) Consequences. An event may be likely but inconsequential or unlikely but massive consequences, any safety assessor will tell you that 90% of your effort will go into guarding against the unlikely but catastrophic event, like say for example the aviation industry.

I guess this is aimed mostly at the US given the size of their role but also to smaller nations. Are the Democrats prepared to say "OK we need to look past what's happened a 2nd war with North Korea with thousands of new deaths may be required to stop a madman with nukes". Are the Republicans prepared to say "OK we fucked up, time to reassess how we work with the Middle East". Are nations disenchanted with the US prepared to say "OK mistakes were made let's try again" and come back to the party. Is the US (and possibly its relationship with the rest of the world) just so polar and partisan? Us versus them, simplistic one liners to complex problems?

It just doesn't seem to me that any lessons were learnt from 9/11 and that if a nuke goes off in New York harbor 3 years from now we'll have the same inability to work out why it's happening. Shouldn't the end result be "they like us, we like them, neither of us try to blow the other one up?". I'm not trying to suggest a hippy Polly-Anna-esque view of the world just saying "results without partisanship".

Is looking good so important to people that they are prepared to contribute to such an event? Instead of typing some smart arse reply on a message board wouldn't writing to your local Congressman / Senator / Parlimentarian stating your feelings be more constructive? Who here has done that? If your local Democrat member is being an ass and grandstanding for political gain at Republican expense write and let him know it's not winning him votes. If your local Republican member is towing the party line and not being progressive tell him your "soon-to-be-barbeque-in-a-nuclear-sunrise" ass is not impressed. Would it help? Who knows, probably more than typing similar sized posts here.

I know this whole post contains a certain irony in that it implies I myself have a partisan view that feels things are not working. I can't really do much to dispel that other than say just take it at face value.

Sorry rambling now, cutting diatribe short.
Zaniel Stormseeker
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