December 05, 2003 | Peter


One of the more disturbing aspects of the constant development of new technology that underlies our increasingly global civilisation is the tendency it creates in some people to see all problems in technical terms and all solutions in new technology. Hence the ballistic missile defence system that Australia has just signed up to.
By the usual standards of military systems, BMD is absurdly risky and expensive. The general consensus among neutral commentators is that militarily, it just won’t work. Furthermore, it opens up a whole new set of problems in global military relations.
For instance, there can be no doubt that it has serious implications for rising powers like China and India whose most likely response will to move into expansionary missile and weapons production programs to overwhelm any such system. But perhaps most worrying ultimately is the need for such a system to destroy missiles soon after take-off, in the booster phase, to prevent fissile material spreading beyond the country of origin. This capacity would have the most profound implications for international relations because if a system could hit a fast accelerating missile, it could hit anything. Most simply, defence becomes offence.
BMD is essentially a scam dreamed up by the American military-industrial complex to keep the lucrative government contracts coming in. The truly huge amounts of money will stimulate the development of the very technologies that the US sees as strategically crucial to its commercial as well as military dominance. Its intent is not really to defend against so-called rogue states, who could deliver a nuclear weapon by yacht or Cessna if they really wanted to attack the US, but to support the most important sector of the US economy. It is in effect a de facto industrial policy aimed at the high tech sector.
It also maintains the fiction that the incredibly complex and increasingly integrated modern world can be run by rules worked 400 years ago that said nation states are independent and sovereign entities. BMD is just a big fort, but it will (sooner or later) cover the whole world, and a fort that covers the whole world is a prison.
Some problems have no technical solution. Those problems can only be dealt with by sustained, open discussion. Sooner, rather than later, we must create a world order built on such activity, and not military threat.

Posted by Peter at 11:03 am | Comments Off on Techno-Fantasy |
Filed under: Uncategorized

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.