Re: GeeK: Bioweapons & the Soviet Lie
Fri, 10 Apr 98 03:33:16 -0700

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Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 03:27:09 -0700
From: Rohit Khare <>

Ah, now the loop is closed... I finally dug back far enough in my mail to
figure out what's up.

[I wanted to invite Erika into our Prop 206 discussion on 'affirmative action;
on FoRK, and found as I worked back through the last 1600 messages that she'd
already crossed the streams. To further refresh context, Greg argued that *of
course* -- we have even race-specific bioweapons]

As for my faith in the assessment -- that the US did indeed shut down its
bioweapons programs-- my first reaction is *whatever* we did, it wasn't nearly
the scale of the Soviets' deception. Try to siphon off a few thousand biomed
researchers -- even a few hundred in an open society like ours, and it gets
noticed. Sure, you can claim an all-encompassing conspiracy fudges the Federal
enrolment data, but in the end, peopel that smart have to come fromt he public
educational system and 'vanish' -- people notice.

Note again I am talking about *scale*: parttimer contracts for lethals add up
to a research program, but not the infrastructure for tons of the stuff. You
need the secret cities, the secret universities, the secret command and
control, the whole nine yards. In a country that can't even protect Mt.
Weather, the Greenbriar Alternate Congressional Redoubt, or Area 51. You
couldn't hide the Manhattan Project today, either.

Second, how much research DO we need? The NYT recently excerpted from what
they jokingly named "Jane's Fighting Germs" enough lethals to accomplish the
range of strategic strikes we might care to have. Jane's! workign from public
data alone...

Third, these weapons *are* immoral and ineffective, strategically. The moment
we create a canister of these bugs, the USA instantly becomes its number one
target. Megadeaths only inflict pain on adversaries who care, care enough to
send their secondary supply lines into paroxysms of spending to protect the
wounded. It can only create terror *and* damage in industrialized countries.

Immoral does count for something with me as an American. It counts far more
with me as an *economist*: it's silly to waste money to replicate a strategic
effect you can already get with EMP or N bombs. If you're interested in small
scale disruption, then it's still less suspicious to inject fecal coliform in
a water supply. Remember, wounding civillians does far more damage than
killing them.

We signed that treaty because it made sense: we weren't giving anything up we
wanted, and in theory they weren't either. My motto is to presume incompetence
over malice (thanks ernie!) -- in this case, just think of how many snips of
Occam's Razor must be held at bay for Conspiracy to hang together.

Have we been doing small-scale research, treaty or no? I damn well hope so! It
fits legitimately under the moniker of biological research CDC does all over.
[Do I believe the leftist Indian proaganda the CDC started the Indian plague
of 94? of course not -- there are more rational targets to test uon even IF
that was the foul deed]. The treaty is about weapons manufacture, and that's a
big deal. It's hard enough to bury $50B for the national intelligence and
reconnaissance budgets -- a bioweapons program? It would have leaked, and
certainly in this post-cold-war era, the Russians would have every reason to
lay out the evidence against us.

Finally, I *do* believe there's a pattern of out-of-control Soviet-era
military paranoia. Andropov and Chernenko kept the apparatus on almost
continuous alert for the early eighties expecting a Bolt Out Of the Blue US
first strike on the slightest news. They didn't uphold any of their other
treaties; they allowed *massive* ecologial disasters under the guise of
defense complexes. The natural evidence of that paranoia is still in the
ground: radiation and biomass leaks 3 to four orders of magnitude worse than
anything in the Free World.

I find Alibek's story chillingly logical and believable for both sides'

I admit to a long list of biases, culled from my years dabbling in studying
COld War history and growing up in the tail end of that era. And another
appendix of biases from being an idealist. It takes people to do evil, and
sometimes you just can't find that many evil people in one place at one time
who'll trust each other enough to pull something like this off.

We can be accused of all manner of evil deeds, from massacres to involuntary
testing to traingin other countries to repeat the same: but the evidence in
case after case is the acts of individuals and cliques. Nothing which hung
together throught the efforts of thousands of people (*)

(*) Sure you can "hide" thousands of intelligence analysts like the NRO and
NSA, but they weren't all violating a moral code and the law of the land.
(though I fully agree NSA at times monitored the *entire* international
message traffic, even between american citizens in direct contravention of
constituional rights -- and still does.

Now, for our meta sexism bonus round question. Would I have even dignified
this kind of claim with a response from 97% of the men on FoRK or GeeK? Sadly,
I must admit, no, I would not. A) because I'd have known them long enough to
know they weren't to be swayed B) because I rarely have worked enough in an
era to speak decisively about the historical comparison C) because I rarely
make an extraspecial effort to entice them onboard. Yes, Erika, I admit I
actually worte all this instead of napping for half an hour because I'd like
you have a good impression of FoRK (**)

Rohit Khare

(**) Yes, I realize this is impossible. It could happen anyway...

> > They started their bioweapons program the year *after* signing the convention
> > banning them. Ours was shut down three years before. Compare the description
> > of smallpox attached below with the assertion the Soviets maintained no less
> > than twenty TONS on strategic stockpile.
> Sorry, but, do you **really** think the US Government/DoD has stopped
> producing biological weapons?? Right. And be out on the most effective
> form of warfare yet.. yeah, sure.
> >
> > Rohit
> >
> Erika Sherman,
> Manager -- Web Support, UM School of Social Work
> Budget & Web Director, WCBN 88.3 FM Radio Free Ann Arbor