12 January 2001
1. NMD: "ROBUST" DEFENSE PLAN IS STARTING TO SOUND FAMILIAR.
A ground-based interceptor missile failed to kill its target, there
were charges that contractors rigged tests, the GAO estimated the
cost of a completed system at a staggering $110B and Congress was
having second thoughts. The year was 1992
(WN 20 Mar 92).
George Bush was President, the missile was the ERIS, and the system was
GPALS (Global Protection Against Limited Strikes), successor to SDI
(WN 17 May 91).
It's all happening again. The failed test
was of a puny ground-based defense against North Korea, which
seems a lot less angry these days and doesn't have an ICBM
anyway. A new test has been postponed to June, but why bother?
George W wants a more comprehensive defense that would be ground,
sea and space based. To fill out the picture, the backward-
looking cold warriors on a panel chaired by Donald Rumsfeld,
reminisced in a report released yesterday about space-power and
high-frontier stuff that was big in the Ford administration.
Rumsfeld reinforced his cold-war views at his Senate confirmation
hearing yesterday, saying that China was more of a foe than "a
strategic partner," that Taiwan was being threatened by a Chinese
military build-up, that "the North Korean dictatorship was more
interested in selling missiles than feeding its people" and that
the ABM treaty is "ancient history." With a world view like
that, no wonder he wants a Missile Defense. But that view isn't
widely shared. Out of 20 key issues, the public ranks NMD 18.
2. BUSH SPOTLIGHT ON SCIENCE? THINK AGAIN.
report that President-Elect Bush, at the urging of a close Texas
technologist, plans to split the Office of Science and Technology
Policy and appoint two separate presidential advisors, one for
science and one for technology. Two prominent university
presidents have reportedly turned down offers for the science
advisor slot. No wonder! This prompted former GOP Science
Advisors D. Allan Bromley and Edward David, as well as APS
President George Trilling, to caution the Bush-Cheney team that
cleaving S&T would be disastrous policy. WN Readers can weigh in
by writing Vice-President-Elect Cheney at the Bush/Cheney
Transition Office, 1800 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006.
3. THE PRIVATIZATION OF ARMS CONTROL.
The hostility to arms
control measures within the Bush camp led CNN founder Ted Turner
to team up with former senator Sam Nunn of Georgia to create a
private foundation dedicated to reduction of the threat posed by
weapons of mass destruction. Nunn brings enormous respect from
both conservatives and liberals. Turner brings money -- lots of
it. This suggests an interesting possibility: with the death of
OTA in 1995, and now the prospect of an enfeebled OSTP, some
enlightened mogul might consider privately funding an office that
would provide science advice to the government.