LETTER: Arms nightmare that is no fantasy

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The Independent Online
From Mrs Elizabeth Young

Sir: John Lichfield's "nightmare scenario" (22 February) - he foresees "Presidents" Buchanan and Zhirinovsky falling out, and then "Detente is over; the Cold War, the arms race, and history begins all over again" - missed out one element that is no fantasy.

The "arms race", unfortunately, is carrying on, only now it is called the "revolution in military affairs" and it is happening only in the US. This "revolution" is about automating not only the waging of war, with small robot aircraft built to "roam and zap", but also its outbreak. The "pre-emptive" destruction of "targets" would be automatically triggered from satellites that have automatically identified them. The need for "real time" operation means that "man" cannot be in the loop.

This whole "revolution in military affairs" is one that Russia is in no condition to take part in; and nor of course is China, or Japan, or Western Europe. HMG is even, apparently on "value for money" grounds, refusing to take part in a European surveillance satellite programme.

Perhaps the possibility of a Buchanan presidency will awaken them to some of today's military problems.

Yours sincerely,

Elizabeth Young

London, W2