[fa.arms-d] Arms-Discussion Digest V2 #66

arms-d@ucbvax.ARPA (10/18/84)

From: Moderator <ARMS-D@MIT-MC.ARPA>

Arms-Discussion Digest Volume 2 : Issue 66
Today's Topics:

		Reliability of Nuclear Deterrent (2 msgs)
		Scientific American Starwars Critique (4 msgs)
		Resolution of Surveillance Satellites

Date: 16 Oct 84 05:37:27 CDT (Tue)
Subject:  Reliability of Nuclear Deterrent

> I'm confused; the source you cited in your first msg (Fallows) doesn't
> address the issue at all except to say that MM has not been fired from
> an operational silo.  Your second msg says they did build an
> operational silo at Vandenburg, where they tried and gave up.  Please
> state your source for this statement.

It's deduction rather than positive knowledge, but not very complex or
uncertain deduction.  Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral are the sites for ICBM
test launches; such tests would be carried out at one of those two places.
Cape Canaveral seems unlikely, because I don't believe they've ever built
silos there; it's too low and wet for much deep-underground construction.
The operational Minuteman fields are too far inland to put the lower stages
into the ocean, and could not possibly meet range-safety requirements for
that reason and others.  Fallows states quite explicitly that repeated
attempts to launch from an operational silo (as opposed to the special
test silos) failed.  I would be very surprised if those attempts had been
made anywhere but Vandenberg, whence my comments.


Date: 16 October 1984 19:23-EDT
From: Herb Lin <LIN @ MIT-MC>
Subject:  Reliability of Nuclear Deterrent
To: ihnp4!utzoo!henry @ UCB-VAX

I see the disagreement.  The tests made were not ot supposed to be
actual full range tests; rather, they were "7 second burn tests" in
which the warhead was removed; the first stage was to have burned for
7 seconds, and then the whole business would come crashing down to
earth in a controlled and planned way.  These events (or should I say
non-events?) actually took place in the fields of Nebraska (or
whereever).  Vandenburg has no operational silos at all.


Date: 16 Oct 84 07:36:17 PDT (Tue)
To: cgr%ucbpopuli.CC@ucb-vax
cc: ARMS-D@mit-mc
Subject: Re: Scientific American Starwars Critique (bias)
From: Martin D. Katz <katz@uci-750a>

Sorry, I was not trying to argue that we should discredit Scientific
American because it is biased -- I consider it of very high quality.  I was
responding to an earlier message in which an author said he takes everything
in Scientific American with an ocean of salt.  My argument was that one must
read every publication about a controvertial topic in which much of the
information is held secret with a high degree of care.

Thank you for stating the situation so well.


Date: 16 Oct 1984 0730-PDT
From: Richard M. King <KING@KESTREL.ARPA>
Subject: proof of bias in SA article on SW
To: arms-d@MIT-MC.ARPA

	Proof of bias you want?  If an article demonstrably ignores an obvious,
reasonably promising technology (physical interception) while providing thorough
coverage of troubled technologies, if it overstates the cost of an important
component of a SW defense (intermittently used power station) by a factor of 
ten, you want further proof of bias?

	I claim bias in this article, and there have been enough similarly
biased article to make an SA bias apparent.  



Date: 16 Oct 84  13:09 EDT (Tue)
From: _Bob <Carter@RUTGERS.ARPA>
To:   cgr%ucbpopuli.CC@Berkeley
Subject: Scientific American Starwars Critique

    	I'd also like to see some evidence as to the nature of

    					John Hevelin

Well, over the last fifteen years or so, the Scientific American
has run a large number of pieces dealing with weapons systems.
These articles almost always lead the book.  Without digging
out old magazines I cannot cite dates and titles, but I think
it is fair to say that almost every article has concluded that
the weapons system with which it deals is either unworkable
or destablilizing.

It is clear from the tone of other parts of the magazine (items
in Science and the Citizen, book reviews) that the publisher
believes passionately in arms limitation;  I suspect he would
be the first to tell you so.

There are a few other issues upon which Scientific American takes
what might be called a clearly-defined political position:  Gun
control, environmental concerns and creationism are the examples that
come to mind.  But on none of these is it as insistent as on issues
of arms control.

The remainder of the magazine is remarkable for its scrupulously
balanced presentation of matters about which there is dispute,
particularly scientific dispute.  This makes its identification
with arms control positions even clearer by contrast.

I seriously doubt that many long-time readers (whatever their
feelings on the substance) would argue that Scientific American
does not take a clear arms-control posture.  It's perfectly
entitled to do that.  But readers are perfectly entitled to
take it as a less than unbiased source.



Date: 16 October 1984 19:09-EDT
From: Herb Lin <LIN @ MIT-MC>
Subject:  Scientific American Starwars Critique
To: cgr%ucbpopuli.CC @ UCB-VAX

    From: cgr%ucbpopuli.CC at Berkeley

    	Katz and Lin seem to be saying that SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
    is "biased".  I say, so what?  The question is not whether
    SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN is biased, the question is whether the
    authors of the article in question know what they're talking
    about.  Nattering about "bias" seems a shabby way of discrediting
    the article without having to confront the hard issues raised by
    the authors.

Hmmm.  I guess I misstated myself if you believe that bias prevents me
from confronting the hard issues raised by Bethe et al.  I think their
analysis is competent -- indeed, I have had many private discussion
with some of the authors of the report, and I even recognize some
points that I myself have made in these discussions (though I don't
think I can take original credit for them).

Nevertheless, it is true that Scientific American takes a position
that can be generally identified as a "liberal establishment" one.
There are many identifying characteristics of this group, just as
there are many identifying characteristics of other groups, such as
that of the "far-right" position.  For example, a L.E. position (I
count myself among these, by the way) would hold that threats to the
U.S. are often rather exaggerated, that unilateral technical measures
do not hold the ultimate key to our security, and that the U.S.
military position is generally better than stated.  A F.R. position
would deny these premises.  When I wrote about "bias", this is what I

    If the critics can show that the authors' "bias"
    has slanted the authors' conclusions, I would like to see their
    (the critics') proofs (preferably with some concrete and
    practical alternatives).

What you assume shapes what you can conclude.  I can't *prove* that
the U.S. will or will not face a threat of a certain magnitude in the
year 2000.  Yet this threat drives *all* analyses of what type of
defensive system should be proposed (if at all).  What I can do is
point out alternative assumptions and their consequences, and leave it
to my audience to determine what is or is not reasonable.

    	I'd also like to see some evidence as to the nature of

Take a look at any article on arms control or weapons in the last 20
years published in S.A. and tell me if any one of them does not fit
within the L.E. framework described above.


BTW, what did I actually say that made you conclude I was complaining
about "bias"?  I can't find anything in my review of the last month's


Date:  Wed, 17 Oct 84 06:48 MST
Subject:  On the Resolution of Surveillance Satellites
To:  arms-d@MIT-MC.ARPA

  A tidbit on the capabilities of surveillance equipment (which
allegedly cannot verify arms-control agreements):  I heard Jack Anderson
interviewed on NBC News recently, and he mentioned in passing that he
had seen U.S.  satellite photos of the Soviet Union.  He said that the
photos were so detailed that he could see a Soviet tank, a Soviet
soldier on the tank, and the soldier's face.  "I could tell," Anderson
said, "that he hadn't shaved that morning."
  Watch the skies!  They get a better look at your face that way.
  Incidently, my anonymous co-worker, who claims to be In The Know,
believes the statement, and added that he always felt the photos
released by the U.S.  government during the Cuban Missile Crisis had to
be de-enhanced before being de-classified.

[End of ARMS-D Digest]