[fa.arms-d] Arms-Discussion Digest V0 #137

C70:arms-d (07/08/82)

>From HGA@MIT-MC Wed Jul  7 23:23:51 1982

Arms-Discussion Digest                            Volume 0 : Issue 137

Today's Topics:
                         More heat than light
                      Recommissioned battleships
                              Nuking LA
                         Utility of Big Stuff
                          Self-inflicted EMP
                           Of mice & men...
                       Light as opposed to heat
                         Security of the USA

Date:  2 Jul 1982 0025-PDT
From: Jim McGrath <CSD.MCGRATH at SU-SCORE>
Subject: Re: More heat than light

I call a spade a spade.  I (and others) have repeatedly demostrated
that, with our current low level of conventional forces, that we would
have to use nuclear weapons, or threaten their use, if confronted by a
major Soviet conventional push (often situated in Europe).  Thus to
renounce the first use of nuclear weapons IS either stupid (since it
involves ignoring the facts) or dishonest (since it implies we are
lying to our allies when we promise to defend them, or to our people
when we make that pledge).  Moreover, this situation is an OBVIOUS one
- ie it does not require that we wait for a confrontation, since any
rational observer could deduce these facts from the available

Thus my point was and is perfectly valid - unless someone can refute
it.  Your response didn't refute MY argument - it knocked down a
strawman of your own construction.  While misunderstandings of
another's positions are perfectly possible, it is difficult to believe
that you could misunderstand my earlier message, which was plainly
written AND QUOTED IN YOUR MESSAGE.  Unless of course you had not read
my message.

Note: the use of the term "stupid" is proper and valid when applied to
things WHICH ARE (by demostration) stupid.  It is improper and invalid
when applied to statements which one has not even attempted to refute,
and thus demostrate to be stupid.



Date: Tue Jun 29 17:29:15 1982
From: decvax!utzoo!henry at Berkeley
Subject: recommissioned battleships

Saw a news item, I think in *Flight International*, claiming that the
US Navy is having problems with the plans to recommission the four
Iowa-class battleships still in mothballs.  The trouble is, when the
big 16-inch guns fire, the recoil jolts the whole ship severely.  It
seems that modern missiles and electronic systems do not *like* being
slammed around like this!  No word on exactly what is to be done about
this small problem...


Date: 2 July 1982 06:02-EDT
From: Robert Elton Maas <REM at MIT-MC>
Subject: Nuking LA

I think it's time to apply the 90/20 rule. You can often get 90% of
the job done for 20% of the effort. Instead of trying to vaporize 100%
of Los Angeles, let's try to vaporize only that portion which contains
90% of its population, letting firestorm and lack of public services
(like food water electricity and highways) present a slow death to
most of the rest. Question: how many one-megaton bombs will it take to
kill 90% of the population of LA virtually instantly?  (My crude
guess: 30; but let's have some good estimates.)


Date: 2 July 1982 06:16-EDT
From: Robert Elton Maas <REM at MIT-MC>
Subject: 100% vs 95% kill

By the way, I think the idea of killing 100% of Los Angeles is a straw
man that is an example of how to lie with statistics. Of course you
can't destroy 100% of Los Angeles with any plausable number of
weapons. But you can destroy 90% with just a few and 95% with a few
more and 99% with a whole bunch, and you don't give a damn if you
destroy the last one percent because that last one percent won't be
capable of waging war, it'll be isolated pockets of people unable to
find each other or do much of anything. But the same goes for any
other 100% task. Finding the very last bug in a program or curing the
very last case of Bubonic plague, or any other 100% task, is nigh
imposible, and it's really dishonest to set it up as a straw man and
then argue how difficult it is to accomplish the 100% task.

If Access to Energy really did argue in that way (I cancelled my
subscription last year thus didn't see the article), then I think it
did a disservice to its readership. In any case, let's not have any
more 100% straw men in this ARMS-DISCUSSION, ok?


Date:     2 Jul 82 11:37:17-EDT (Fri)
From:     Earl Weaver (VLD/VMB) <earl@BRL>
Subject:  Utility of Big Stuff

     Once I was at an aircraft survivability workshop in which the
discussion turned to which was better--a lot of little, fast, cheap
attack aircraft, or a few BETTER, more expensive ones.  [I'll not get
into what people consider BETTER other that a generalization of more
weapons, greater bombload, MUCH more sophisticated electronics
(jammers, radar deceivers, etc.)]  The first better, above, means
survivable--able to complete the mission (delivering its arms load
accurately) and keep doing it mission after mis- sion.
 'Survivable' has the following implications:

     1.  Not be seen (detected). [In the case of aircraft, the
aircraft should have 'minimum' radar reflectance, IR signature, no
glint, etc., etc.] If seen, then

     2. Not get hit. [Evasive tactics, jammers, chaff, flares, radar
deception, etc., etc.]  But if hit, then

     3. Not get killed (killed in the sense of mission abort and
return to base without crash). [Redundant systems, self sealing fuel
cells, fly-by-wire reprogramming, etc., etc.]  But if damaged, then

     4. Be fixable.

     Unfortunately survivability costs $$$$ and weight.  Against plain
bullets it means, mainly, maneuverabilty.  But against today's and
tomorrow's (don't forget, the military likes to think that aircraft
can be used for the next 20+ years) sophisticated weapons it takes
bunches of electron- ics, redundancy, and beef-up structures.  Since
it costs so much to be survivable, it is logical to add as much
armament as possible.  Thus larger and larger aircraft.  As anyone
really been up close to an F-18?  Those things are really huge!
Anyway, the discussion came to no conclusion since there were so many
variables.  I suppose that IF one could decide that an aircraft was to
be applied to a certain mis- sion then one could design accordingly.
But, it seems that the military is always trying to make it do a
little more (presumably in the interest of saving money by not having
an additional aircraft in the inventory), thus the rules change during
development.  [Sometimes it is not the military's decision; Congress
sometimes dictates what a piece of materiel should do.]  Someone said
that conceptually, it would be attractive to consider the US Air Force
could have one really terrific, expensive monster as its whole force.
One craft that never really got close to the fighting, but that could
sit back and cruise for days looking things over then sending in
brilliant munitions from far away to do the damage to the enemy.  Of
course the answer lies somewhere between the cheapie and the behemoth,
but where?


Date: Friday, 2 July 1982  10:46-PDT
Subject: Self-inflicted EMP

	The proposed ABM system of the mid-1970's would have
intercepted hostile nuclear warheads with nuclear warheads of its own.

	How was it planned to avoid EMP'ing ourselves to death with
our own ABM system?



Date: 2 Jul 1982 10:32:22-PDT
From: cbosg!nscs!jpj at Berkeley
Subject: Re: Of mice & men...

    From: Jim McGrath <CSD.MCGRATH at SU-SCORE>
    Subject: Of Mice and Men

	From: Jim Jenal

	    The damning aspect of all of this is that *we* chose this
	    course.  To speak of the realities of life (ie, the need
	    for sovereignty and its defense) as immutables is a
	    fallacy.  People established the order of the world.
	    People *can* re-order the world into something other than
	    a self- destructive entity.

    Pride goeth before the fall...

    Quite frankly, I believe you are wrong. Like it or not, we are not
    gods.  There are many limitations on human actions which we
    cannot, as yet, overcome.

I am able to accept the fact that none of us are gods - in fact I
never implied anything like that; actually, my very point was that
*people* are responsible for the present state of the world!  Somehow
you missed my point.  I shall stive for greater clarity in the future.

    There is poverty in this world.  Our present resources are not
    adequate to serve the population of this planet for any
    significant number of years.

While I certainly agree that there is plenty of poverty in the world
today, I *do not* agree that the present resources of this planet are
not adequate to meet current human *needs*.  Note that the operative
word here is NEEDS, not WANTS.

    Obviously we should therefore try to increase our knowledge and
    control.  But in the meantime there ARE *realities* that we must
    respect - else our search for a better way to live may be cut off
    - permanently.

	From: jpj


    Yes there is - the principle of survival of humanity, and all that
    that entails.

How's that again?  Are you disagreeing w/what I said?  If so, I miss
the distinction.

    Luckily this principle does not come into play in full force.
    That is to say, we will not destroy humanity, even in the worse
    case - only significant parts of it.  Given that ANY course of
    action, including inaction, entails similar risks, all we can do
    is try to make the best of things and act as intelligently as we
    can (which is not nearly enough, but what else can mere mortals

Alas, you cannot give me any guarantees that what you claim (ie, that
we will only destroy *part* of Humanity) is true.  Quite frankly, you
do not know.  Further, as I have already stated on this list, to
assume that in any major exchange the only weapons used would be
*nuclear* is dangerously naive.  Worse yet, I find you somewhat
cavilier attitude re: the destruction of "...significant parts of"
Humanity somewhat nauseating.  What do you use for morals?  By what
standard do you judge acceptable conduct?

I agree that we must try to make the best of things and act as
intelligently as we can - which may *indeed* be not well enough - I
just don't believe that supporting the building of more and more
weapons of mass destruction is an *intelligent* response.

Jim Jenal


Date:  3 Jul 1982 0810-PDT
Subject: Light as opposed to heat

(enter meta discussion mode)

Any discussion/argument involves abstractions from the real world;
these abstractions allow reasonably brief discussion of matters which
are almost always quite complex.  Even at the abstraction level binary
choices are rare, and in the real world they are even less common.
The choice of abstractions made fits the bias of the chooser; much
dispute arises from unspoken or even unconcious differences between
the abstractions of the parties to the dispute.

In all of the discussions in which I participate it is legitimate to
shift abstraction context in mounting opposing arguments.  It is
desirable to make the shift explicit, but I and I suspect others are
not scrupulous about this.  The making explicit has the undesirable
side effect of lengthening messages.

I read all of ARMS-D, and read with special care messages relating to
topics of ineterst to me; I use even more care in reading messages I'm
commenting on or comments on my messages.

I don't object to McGrath calling a spade a spade; I do object to
terms like 'stupid' which apply to people and not ideas.  McGrath's
messages are heavily ad hominem in that they make accusations about
the opponent's conduct and motives rather than address the ideas
advanced.  I believe this sort of thing contributes nothing toward
clarifying the ideas advanced; I also find it personally offensive to
have to wade through arrogant stuff like: "Unless of course you had
not read my message." and "any rational observer could deduce these
facts from the available evidence" to get to any real content.

I would be very interested in (hopefully brief) comments from
uninvolved parties about these matters.

(leave meta discussion mode)

Specific comments on McGrath's assertions:

	I (and others) have repeatedly demostrated that, with our
	current low level of conventional forces, that we would have
	to use nuclear weapons, or threaten their use, if confronted
	by a major Soviet conventional push (often situated in

I have seen no valid argument (let alone a demonstration) on ARMS-D or
anywhere else that establishes nuclear weapons as desirable and
necessary counters to Soviet conventional strength in Europe.  There
are a number of arguments against this policy; here are two I find

1) The immense and unknown risks of crossing the nuclear barrier.
Destroying Europe in order to save it seems counterproductive.

2) Strategic asymmetry.  Deployment of Pershing missiles in Europe
reduces Soviet warning time of an attack on Moscow to 6 minutes;
nothing they do with SS-20s poses an equivalent threat to Washington
or similar US targets.  If they go to Launch-On-Warning as they well
might in such a situation, nuclear deterrent stability is much


Date: Mon Jul  5 19:27:41 1982
From: decvax!watmath!bstempleton at Berkeley
Subject: Security of the USA

I doubt I will be the only Canadian to respond on this issue...

I am quite surprised to see some Americans seriously worried about our
country as a threat to US security.

You probably know how linked our military systems already are.  Each
year a Canadian and American officer take turns at being Commander and
Second in Command of NORAD.

Aside from this I have to worry about the comment that said you have
the best system of government around and should spread it.  This is
the most dangerous form of self-deception I know of.  The Soviets and
many others claim the same thing.  While it is true that the American
system is admirable, especially for its time of creation, it is far
from ideal.  Countries such as Canada are every bit as free and
advanced as the USA.  One of the principles of the American
constitution was freedom for people to choose their government.  Don't
even THINK of violating it.


End of Arms-D Digest