[fa.arms-d] Arms-Discussion Digest V0 #131

C70:arms-d (06/29/82)

>From HGA@MIT-MC Mon Jun 28 23:27:09 1982

Arms-Discussion Digest                            Volume 0 : Issue 131

Today's Topics:
               More comments on SOBER FACTS / rule of 7
                Discussion about this list and the NRA
                         Helping the russians
                      Query on international law
                       Military & NASA in space
                  Discussion of Jim Jenal's concepts

Date: 26 June 1982 06:13-EDT
From: Robert Elton Maas <REM at MIT-MC>
Subject: More comments on SOBER FACTS / rule of 7

I griped about the rule of seven when it came up a month or so ago.
It's obviously absurd when carried to time=0 (gives infinite radiation
level) or time very large (gives longest isotope decaying according to
inverse power rather than exponential). The author of the network
message replied that there was a graph showing the rule for a moderate
range (I forget, something like from a few days to 1000 days?). I
guess the way it works out is that the mixture of short-lived and
long-lived radioactive isotopes manages to emulate an inverse power
law in that range, which is the useful range for deciding when people
can return to radioactive areas after an attack.


Date:     26 Jun 82 10:45:13-EDT (Sat)
From:     J C Pistritto <jcp@BRL>
Subject:  People jumping to conclusions

	When I suggested splitting the lists, I was *NOT* trying to
force anyone off, etc. as REM has been saying.  The idea is to divide
a discussion with two obvious focus points, (disarmament & tactics),
into two discussions with a single focus each.  Although I am sure
that there are people who would receive both, from the type of
submissions entering ARMS-D recently, it seems that the set of people
active on each topic is reasonably disjoint.
	Gee folks, it was only a suggestion...



Date: 27 June 1982 00:24-EDT
From: James A. Cox <APPLE at MIT-MC>
Subject:  keep your peace

	From: Robert Elton Maas

	I don't think the Arpanet is the place for people of one
	belief to get together and force out anyone of opposing
	belief.  If you want to do that, form a private church, not on
	Arpanet (or join an existing one like the NRA or the John
	Birch Society).

In one of your previous messages, you accused someone of "right-wing
emotionalism."  Now you seem guilty of left-wing emotionalism.  How
ridiculous to claim that the NRA and the John Birch Society "force out
anyone of opposing belief"!  It's about as ridiculous as claiming that
the ACLU, Common Cause, and the Communist Party of the U.S. "force
out" people of opposing beliefs.  In fact, of course, this problem
never arises, because people never join such organizations unless they
agree with their views.  I feel certain that the NRA would gladly
accept members (and take their dues, of course) who do not agree with
its stand on gun control.


Date:     27 Jun 82 10:02:39-EDT (Sun)
From:     Earl Weaver (VLD/VMB) <earl@BRL>
Subject:  NRA

Like HGA, I am an NRA member and see no comparison between it and the

I often chuckle to myself when I hear some people describe the "gun
lobby" (NRA) in condemnation regarding its "influence" (via members'
letters) over elected officials knowing full well that those same
people would describe similar actions by other groups on other issues
as "democracy in action."

Any other NRA members "out there"?  (replies can be made directly to
me; I don't feel arms-d should be used for accumulating that tally [if
there are any responders])


Date: 06/27/82 10:18:07

I don't think that REM has answered what I consider the most important
point ES made: that once you accept the reasoning that you must help
the Russian government avoid being overthrown because they might start
a total war if that happened, you are collaborating in perpetuating
their oppressive rule.

What chance do the Russians -- or the Poles, to connect with recent
events -- have, EVER, if the US begins to feel obliged to help Russia
put down any insurrections there?


Date:     27 Jun 82 17:05:49 EDT  (Sun)
From:     Steve Bellovin <smb.unc@UDel-Relay>
Subject:  Query on international law

Someone I know claims that the Geneva Convention prohibits stationing
military forces or equipment in civilian areas, with the aim of
reducing casulties among non-combatants.  This would imply that the
PLO is legally responsible (whatever that means) for much of the
destruction of Beirut.  Does anyone know if this is accurate?


Date: 27 Jun 1982 1732-PDT
From: Jim McGrath <CSD.MCGRATH at SU-SCORE>
Subject: Military & NASA in space

I have no objections to the Military and NASA cooperating in space -
security is needed for space facilities, space is a natural area of
military interest because it is such "high ground," and, quite
frankly, NASA can do with some help from the DoD lobby on Capital
Hill.  What I object to is the military mistreating NASA - such as not
paying a proper proportion of the space shuttle costs, or the costs of
a space station that will be used by the military.  If anything, DoD,
being richer than NASA, should be paying a greater that "just" share
of the costs.  I also want to make sure that the military uses of
space do not prevent commercial exploitation of space.  Given DoD's
track record, I do think it is proper to continue to exert pressure on
behalf of NASA on DoD.



Date: 06/26/82 19:32:20

I did feel the emotions Jim [Jenal] wanted me to feel while I read his
message.  But I don't agree with his conclusion.  I also don't think
that his powerful parable is really analogous to the arms race.  Also,
I think it was cheap emotionalism to work so hard on stirring up
helplessness, then slip in the claim that it are relevant to the arms
race while people are too stirred up to judge that claim properly.

I believe there are principles in human affairs that justify a RISK of
human extinction in their defense.

I'd prefer to avoid it if I can.  But when the enemy figures that out
and starts using it -- essentially, holding humanity hostage -- what
am I supposed to do?  Automatically give in to anybody who uses that

I don't think we should give Red Brigade or Iranian terrorists what
they want (unless it is something they were entitled to anyway), even
though this makes a risk that they will kill their hostages.  The
principle stated at the end of Jim Jenal's message could easily be
generalized to say that defending against the terrorists is not worth
causing innocent bystanders who happen to be the hostages to be
killed.  And, indeed, this is a good principle to follow UNTIL the
enemy figures out that you are doing it and starts using it against
you (by holding hostages).  Then you either abandon the principle (on
that particular occasion) or you are sunk.

A principle of always giving in to the demands of terrorists with
hostages would be carte blanch for terrorists.  A principle of always
giving in to the demands of anyone who can blow up the world is carte
blanche for them.

And what happens when both Russia and China have the power to blow up
the US, and they make conflicting demands on us, both backed by
nuclear ultimatems?  The alternative of giving in doesn't save us
then.  It only works on the assumption that there is only one other
force in the world that we have to obey.

If there is a way out of the dilemma between surrendering and risking
mass destruction -- such as, ABM systems -- then I'm for it.  While
stuck in the dilemma, I take the Israeli attitude toward the
terrorists: give terrorists what they want once, and they will make
demands more often.  The only way to prevent constant Russian
ultimatems is to make it clear we would not give in to them.  I
definitely prefer the world of MAD, which is still here after 20
years, to the world of giving in to Russian ultimatems.

Meanwhile, Jim Jenal's analogy is different in key respects from MAD.
In fact, his parable is a situation a lot worse than MAD.  The first
thing I would want to do in that situation is find a gun, find my
enemy, and have my family threaten to feud with him.  AFTER I
succeeded in doing that (which Jim specifies is impossible), I would
be a lot safer, and I'd be in a situation more comparable to MAD.

So much for the issue; now for Jim's technique of persuasion:

Jim's message went to a great deal of effort to wring our hearts about
a fictional situation, and then quickly slips in the claim that those
stirred-up emotions are relevant in some way to discussion of the arms
race.  I have already challenged that claim, in the previous
paragraph.  Now I say that it is irresponsible argument to put so much
effort into stirring up emotions and so little into showing that they
are relevant to the topic under discussion; so much emphasis on the
part of his argument that we are likely to agree with, while brushing
over the part that people might disagree with, hoping they will not
notice it is there, and be convinced through a mental lapse.  This is
a tactic that I see disarmament proponents, together with
antiabortionists, use constantly, and it is a wrong to the audience.

One should try to overcome the weaknesses in an argument, not to
distract people from them.


Date: 27 June 1982 00:34-EDT
From: James A. Cox <APPLE at MIT-MC>
Subject:  A New Voice Enters the Fray...

	From Jim Jenal:


Well, that's your opinion.  I disagree, as I'm sure you're well aware
if you've read any of the old mail.  So what?


Date: 27 Jun 1982 18:16:01-PDT
From: cbosg!nscs!jpj at Berkeley
Subject: Re:  A New Voice Enters the Fray...

I respect your [Cox's] right to disagree, but on what basis do you do
so?  Can you state for me a principle of Human invention that has
meaning in the face of extinction?  Now I admit that you need *not*
concede that extinction is *probable*, but you surely cannot deny that
it is *possible!*

[In point of fact, when we broaden are horizons beyond *mere* nuclear
weapons, we recognize many other implements of killing which, while
perhaps not as physically destructive, may well be far more lethal.
It is unlikely to suppose that in any conflict sufficient to involve
strategic, nuclear arms, such would be the *only* weapons used.
Recent evidence of Soviet application of chemical weapons, coupled
with the Reagan Administration's decision to resume the production of
similar weapons speaks of the potential for their wider, future use.
Such a scenario makes extinction even more probable.]

Once you grant me that possibility - and being a reasonable individual
you must - I fail to understand how any Human activity can have
meaning in the face of the cessation of *all* Human activity.

Please elucidate.

Jim Jenal


Date: 27 Jun 1982 19:18:40-PDT
From: cbosg!nscs!jpj at Berkeley
Subject: Re:  A New Voice Enters the Fray...

In response to:

    From: Robert Elton Maas <REM at MIT-MC>
    Subject: A New Voice Enters the Fray...

    Yup.  So, what do we do to prevent extinction?

I guess that there are a couple of approaches to that.  One says that
if *everyone* realized that extinction was at hand - they would rise
up to eliminate its source.  In a sense, that was the point of my
little fiction.  I don't believe that anyone is *happy* with the
current state of the world, unless they are insane - or profitting
from a lot of misery.

Given that they do not, there is the task of education - informing
those who sleep that all is not as secure as they might choose to
believe and to rouse them from their slumber.

On the other hand, there are those who believe, perhaps as you do,
that extinction is a very real possibility but who see no way to get
to a world that is free of such a risk.  In the final analysis, I
suspect that there is *nothing* that we can do to remove such a risk.
As long as the prerequisite knowledge exists, we live in its shadow.

But to change tacks slightly...  It seems to me that if there is any
cause worth dying for, in the face of potential extinction; it is to
sacrifice your life so that others might live.  Not necessarily live
well, or even *free*, but to LIVE.  How can we presume to choose how
those who would come after us would want to live?  By what right do we
usurp their *very being* in the name of *any* ideology?  All of us
were born - we now can choose how to cope with our fate - can we deny
future generations a chance to do likewise?  Who gave this generation
the proxy for all who would come after?

Alas, that is not a plan - rather, it is the beginning of a
philosophy.  Out of which I some day hope to reason and behave in a
coherent and consistent manner.  I welcome your comments and those of
the other distinguished members of this list.

Jim Jenal


Date: 27 Jun 1982 2255-PDT
From: Jim McGrath <CSD.MCGRATH at SU-SCORE>
Subject: Of Mice and Men

	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 (and I think most of the people on this list) would
wish this to be otherwise, and are striving to increase our knowledge
and control.  But for all our accomplishments in the past few
centuries, our technological knowledge is still quite small.  And as
for our philosophical/psychological/social knowledge, it is in an even
poorer state.

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.  We are developing new knowledge that might enable us
to do better in the future.  In particular nuclear power, materials
science, computers, genetic technology, and the exploitation of space
all promise us a greater degree of control over our environment, and
thus the means to satisfy out material needs.

But perhaps more important are developments in the social sciences
that will enable us to manage our human resoures and use these
material means to satisfy those needs.  Needless to say, these
developments are far more difficult to make.

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 -


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



End of Arms-D Digest