have long commented on the U.S. government’s need for
an “endless frontier” – a substitute for
the mythologized Wild West. A place Americans can explore,
conquer, and dominate, and where riches and profits can be
plundered. With the official closing of the continental western
frontier in 1890 and the ongoing exploitation of Alaska’s
resources, space truly represents the “final frontier.”
current Bush administration’s plan to weaponize space
and seize the new high-tech military “high ground”
poses perhaps the greatest threat to humankind in the 21st
century. The U.S.’s stated policy, revealed in the U.S.
Space Command document “Joint Vision for 2020,”
calls for “full spectrum dominance” of Earth,
both militarily and economically, through control of the moon
the bucolic splendor of a vast nature preserve, a historic
conference entitled “Full Spectrum Dominance”
was held on May 16-17 at the Airlie Center in Warrenton, Virginia.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Helen Caldicott organized the
event which gathered 45 selected media representatives from
NBC, CNN and freepress.org, among others, to interact with
25 briefers including military backers of the Bush administration’s
strategic defense initiative, scientists, policy makers and
activists opposed to the militarization of space.
the retired General Charles Horner, former Commander-in-chief
of the U.S. Space Command, opened the conference. He frankly
described his past profession as one of “destroying
things and killing people.” Horner stated that he “hates
war” and is a religious “pacifist,” but
insists we live in a world that is “incongruous and
divided.” He asserts that “space people had to
have a space weapon.”
General made a distinction between weapons of mass destruction
in space and weapons in what he called “near space.”
With this distinction, he proceeded to argue that U.S. missiles
launched into near space from U.S. military bases or ships
based off North Korea’s coastline do not constitute
space weapons. He defended the Bush administration’s
plans for a missile defense system asserting that even if
we only shoot down one in ten nuclear missiles, that’s
one city saved. He also pointed out that the nukes “.
. . we shoot down are going to fall on Canada,” not
the United States.
Craig Eisendrath, Senior Fellow at the Center for International
Policy, outlined the post-World War II history of missile
defense. Eisendrath explained the post-war yearning for merging
“rocket technology with nuclear capability.” Eisendrath
insists that the same issues of miscalculation, hair-trigger
defense systems and decoy problems that led the U.S. and the
former Soviet Union to sign the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile
(ABM) treaty remain today.
this, in 2001, the Bush administration renounced the ABM treaty
and its obligations that outlawed the testing and deployment
of “missile defense” systems. Eisendrath points
out that the Bush administration has taken advantage of the
9/11 tragedy to push the missile defense system as a “counterterrorism”
measure. He insists that intercontinental ballistic missiles
(ICBMs) are not terrorist weapons a la “a dirty bomb.”
Bush administration has falsely manufactured the need for
a missile defense system through a “. . . concentrated
campaign, that is frankly despicable and takes money away
from fighting terrorism,” Eisendrath concluded.
a critique of Bush administration policy, Eisendrath commented
that the “first line of defense is diplomacy, not the
U.S. has already spent, (critics argue wasted), $130 billion
on research and development for the so-called Star Wars program.
Ten billion dollars a year continues to be allocated to the
Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to keep alive President Ronald
Reagan’s Cold War dream.
Thomas Graham, now a senior advisor at the Eisenhower Institute,
called the ABM treaty a “cornerstone of stability.”
Graham noted that with the Chinese in possession of a mere
20 ICBMs and the Russians having reduced to less than half
their Cold War arsenal, a missile defense system seems to
make little sense at this point in history.
like Eisendrath, offers that the $10 billion given to the
MDA – the largest single year expenditure on any weapons
system – would be better spent on suppression of terrorist
networks. Analysts at Jane’s Defense publications called
ICBMs “the least likely threat” and “dirty
bombs” the more likely nuclear option against the United
States, according to Graham.
of Science, Technology and National Security Theodore Postol
of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology pointed out that
it’s well known that decoys easily fool missile defense
systems. Thus, cheap and low-tech ways to counter and confuse
missile defense systems have been well publicized since the
1960s. Postol referred to “inflatable decoys”
with the “appearance of warheads” as the most
obvious possibility. “If multiple objects have the same
appearance, then the defending missiles cannot discriminate
between those objects. It is not possible,” Postol explained.
Hence, billions of dollars of weapons become easily nullified.
personnel present quickly countered by insisting that the
decoy problem could be solved if we simply launched pre-emptive
missile strikes against any North Korean or hostile country’s
space launches. The legality under international law of pre-emptive
nuclear attacks on other nation’s space launches proved
said that he believes the entire Star Wars system, including
Joint Vision for 2020, is being “driven by lobbyists.”
General Horner disagreed, but concurred that the current technology
is indeed imperfect. He posed the question of whether or not
say, a “laser” in space with military application,
is per se a space weapon. U.S. government documents previously
revealed by the Free Press indicate that lasers are a key
component of the U.S. government’s secret “directed
Fellow at the World Policy Institute William D. Hartung believes
that the emerging national missile defense lobby is attempting
to create a “tipping point to put behind space weapons.”
Companies like Boeing, which has been actively involved in
the airborne laser system, and Milteck, which has been associated
with kinetic energy space weapons, may well seek huge profits
in a reborn Star Wars program. Hartung quantifies the various
costs of the MDA and related Star Wars programs at approximately
$22 billion in weapons. This figure included $8.8 billion
for missile defense and between $300-$500 million for the
new generation of space weapons.
Isaacs, the Executive Director of the Council for a Livable
World, calls the $8.8 billion allocation for missile defense
“substantial support,” even though, in his analysis,
missile defense systems are “impotent and obsolete”
in light of the dirty bomb danger. Any terrorist with dynamite
and some radioactive material poses more of a true threat
to U.S. security.
claims that the Bush administration’s missile defense
systems is driven more by neo-conservative ideology and the
forces supporting it at the Project for a New American Century,
and may be serving more as a symbol of determined projected
U.S. military and economic dominance of the planet. Seen in
this light, the system itself doesn’t have to be viable.
Isaacs claims that as the biggest weapons program in the defense
budget, it’s an obvious “white elephant”
there for ideological reasons.
added that “space weapons rhetoric” goes hand-in-hand
with the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive or, better put, preventive
war. Ambassador Graham described the Bush doctrine of preventive
war “no longer being driven by technology, it’s
new theology.” He warned against the danger of the absurd
“dream of absolute security.”
Gagnon, the Coordinator of Global Network Against Nuclear
Power and Weapons in Space, called the ideology nothing less
than a commitment to the intergalactic U.S. domination of
Yermakov, Senior Counselor from the Russian Embassy provided
the Russian perspective on Star Wars. He said that militarization
of space has already occurred. What his country is opposed
to is a new arms race: “the weaponization of space.”
has become big business’ new frontier, not only for
the weapons makers, but for those who traffic in commercial
satellite signals. An estimated $91 billion a year, and this
has doubled since 1996, is spent on direct satellite TV and
1967, the U.S. signed the UN treaty on the peaceful uses of
outer space, a treaty currently under “review”
by the Bush administration. In October 2004, the UN Committee
on Disarmament and International Security held a special session
on Prevention of an Arms Race in Space. They voted on a nonbinding
resolution opposing the weaponization of space. The final
vote was 167-0-2. The two countries that abstained were the
U.S. and Israel.
President Eisenhower dreamed of “the peaceful use of
space,” the Clinton years transformed that to a vision
of “space control.” Now, inevitably, the Bush
administration offers us “space dominance,” according
to Theresa Hitchens, Director of the Center for Defense Information.
The emerging commercial interests in space and colonization
of the moon, and the belief that there’s “gold
in them there asteroids” is clearly driving U.S. space
Richard Garwin, Senior Fellow for Science and Technology at
the Council on Foreign Relations, stressed the advantages
if the U.S. military controlled space. He painted a catastrophic
scenario where U.S. enemies attacked and destroyed our space
assets. Garwin argued that it makes no sense for the U.S.
to cooperate with other countries and give up our space superiority.
Air Force Officer Peter Hayes magnified Garwin’s arguments
by pointing out that in the U.S.’s well known “shock
and awe” air attack on Iraq, 70% of the weapons were
guided by space satellites.
of Military Studies Everett C. Dolman from the Air Force School
of Advanced Air and Space Studies matter-of-factly represented
the naked face of U.S. militarism. The former intelligence
analyst for the National Security Agency and employee of the
U.S. Space Command asserted that the U.S. “will not
give up its right to use force as long as it is the hegemon.”
Professor Dolman’s analysis, the U.S. should think of
the moon corridor in the same way that the imperial British
Navy thought of the sea lanes in the 19th century. We should
borrow from the British model of bottling up and controlling
the sea lanes to assert military and economic dominance in
the Victorian era and think of the Earth as a large port.
Dolman argues it’s inevitable that the U.S. will bottle
up the key Earth port leading to the moon. The moon is the
high ground, an ideal for future military and commercial operations.
the endless frontier beckons the U.S. militarists and corporatists,
Dr. Dolman noted that we should not be worried about other
countries trying to stop us. He explained, “Mice always
vote to bell the cat.” The predatory nature of Dolman’s
comments were not lost on either Gagnon or Caldicott.
forthrightly stated that America is addicted to militarism
and violence and that our economy is too dependent on military
spending. He called for the total defunding of all space weapons
research and development. He urged religious leaders to consider
the moral and ethical questions posed by the weaponization
of the heavens and demanded a full public discourse on the
implications of Star Wars, the sequel.
Gagnon finished, Caldicott rose and, in her usual thoughtful
rhetoric, reminded all present that “Our planet is under
intensive care.” She insisted that we must alter our
way of thinking if we are to preserve the planet for future
generations. Caldicott denounced the new Bush policies as
“little boy’s games” and pledged herself
to opposing nukes in space.
comments added a thematic cohesion to the historic gathering.
General Horner had remarked in his opening comments that the
Pentagon does not “want to talk about space control
because they are afraid of groups like you that will be protesting
in the streets” in a reference to Caldicott’s
Nuclear Policy Research Institute.
May 18, the New York Times reported that the Bush administration
is planning to announce a new national space policy. The new
direction will give a green light to the offensive weaponization
of space. The policy will spell out U.S. military space control
lines are drawn. Will the people of the planet take to the
streets and oppose the U.S. policy of “full spectrum
dominance” of Earth from space? Or will the cat continue
to toy with the mice?
Bob Fitrakis is a political science professor at Columbus
State Community College and Free Press Editor.