4 AUGUST 2001, Page 27

Dealing with the Davids

From Mr Paul Shallard Sir: Am I missing the point about the nuclear threat to the USA? The 'nuclear deterrent' seems to have worked by dint of the mutual fear of destruction it provides. But this can only work between identifiable powers — traditional 'great' powers, or at least lesser powers with delusions of grandeur.

Mr Bush seems to overlook this entirely and is rabbiting on about not being threatened by anyone, and seems to think that anti-missile missiles will (assuming that they can be perfected) make America totally bulletproof. Similarly, Mark Steyn (`Mad about the bomb', 28 July) speaks of anti-missile missiles making nuclear weapons redundant.

Surely what he and Bush are missing is that the proliferation of technology which will make this missile programme a practical reality will also enable some disaffected anti-American nobody to solve the infinitely less complicated problem of how to put a bomb in a container and ship it to, say, New York, as a consignment of spare parts or whatever, to be detonated by a satnav proximity device, or even a call to an onboard cellphone from literally anywhere.

The proliferation of the hi-tech could mean that we are on the edge of the age of hi-tech missile shields and nuclear guerrilla warfare.

Bush has forgotten about David and Goliath: the little guy with a good eye, who avoids the strength of his mighty opponent, can score some quite devastating blows at times. His money could perhaps be better spent providing better prospects for young Davids — or opposing them really ruthlessly, according to the good, God-fearin' Texecution way. if that is the way he wants to play it.

Paul Shallard

Auckland, New Zealand