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From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: BMD and allies (was Re: Greenpeace Opposes...)
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 18:12:03 GMT

In article <8kdgfc$avu$>,  <> wrote:
>> They haven't forgotten; they feel that a defence system which protects
>> only the US will increase their vulnerability, not decrease it...
>In the V-2 days, the US were protected by the Atlantic;
>this did not prevent them from helping Britain defend itself;
>it probably helped.

In a material sense, yes -- it helped that US industry was not under air

In a political sense, well, that's much more debatable.  The problem there
is that because the US itself did not feel threatened, US aid came with a
price tag:  the impoverishment of Britain and the demolition of the trade
barriers around the British Commonwealth.  US aid was on a cash-only basis
until Britain had spent *all* its hard-currency reserves (both gold and
negotiable securities).  Then came the Lend-Lease agreement -- arguably
the point where the US truly entered the war -- and its price tag was
explicit, although unadvertised:  the agreement itself contains a clause
stipulating the removal of the Commonwealth's trade barriers.

One reason why post-war Europe was so keen on an explicit alliance with
the US -- committing the US to assist without being paid to -- was
precisely to prevent a repetition of this.  Anything which acts to
distance the US from Europe, to make the US feel that Europe's problems
are not also US problems, is rightly seen as worrisome.

(Personally, I'm in favor of light BMD systems -- I think they are going
to be an obvious necessity before long -- but the diplomatic problems are
not small, and the US needs to start addressing them rather than
dismissing them.  This isn't an immediate crisis because there is little
chance that business-as-usual US military procurement will produce a BMD
system that works reliably enough to be taken seriously... but before too
very long it's going to have to be thought about, because the need will
become urgent enough that more effective approaches will be used.)

>It is  this kind of scenario that US allies ought to think about.
>That is, *if* they think of themselves as US allies
>in the long run, and not as part of some potential
>future world-vs-USA match...

The key point is that they think of themselves as US allies, not US
satellites, and want to keep it that way.  This implies that the US belief
in the importance of common defence must be kept strong enough to survive
disagreements on other issues.  This is not a simple problem, with the
demise of the obvious Big Threat.
Microsoft shouldn't be broken up.       |  Henry Spencer
It should be shut down.  -- Phil Agre   |      (aka

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