President Bush's Plan to Deploy Star Wars System Could Launch New Global Nuclear Arms Race

A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints on national and international issues under-reported in major media
February 19, 2001

* Journalist Karl Grossman says that far more than just missile defense, the U.S. plans to control the "ultimate high ground of space and dominate the planet below" with high-tech weapons and a "Space Corps."

As promised during his campaign, George W. Bush is marching full speed ahead to build a 21st century model of the Reagan-era "Star Wars" program. The drive to construct the multi-billion dollar national missile defense system comes as Russia, China and many European nations are voicing strong opposition, expressing the fear that a U.S. intercept missile program will abrogate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and spark a new global nuclear arms race. The weapons program -- justified by its supporters as necessary to defend against sneak attacks by so-called rogue states like North Korea, Iran and Iraq -- has been condemned by scores of arms control officials, scientists and 50 Nobel laureates.

The technical viability of "Star Wars" has also come into question after multiple test failures and allegations that aerospace corporations attempted to cover-up or minimize the system's malfunctions. Before becoming the Bush administration's secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld chaired the Commission to Assess U.S. National Security Space Management. Hinting at a long range plan going far beyond mere missile defense, the Rumsfeld Commission advocated that America embark on a comprehensive program to establish military superiority in outer space.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with investigative journalist Karl Grossman, who examines the drive to build a national missile defense system and the danger that its deployment will undermine global and regional strategic balance and stability.

Karl Grossman: As anticipated, it's full speed ahead on Star Wars now with Bush. I think it's important to note that Star Wars had not died under the Clinton administration. Indeed, late last year, the development program on the space-based laser project, which one military document from the Redstone Army Arsenal (in Huntsville, Ala.) describes as having a $20 billion to $30 billion life cycle budget, got the go ahead Nov. 20, 2000 under the Clinton administration. The nations of the world are quite aware of the what the U.S. is up to. And it's far more than just missile defense. The U.S. scheme is "to control space," from the ultimate high ground of space to dominate the planet below. Those are the words used over and over again in military documents. And as I said, the nations of the world are quite familiar with the scheme. Indeed, it's on the Internet. Anybody can go to the U.S. Space Command site and see the plans and documents like "Vision For 2020" or "Long Range Plan."

A vote was held at the United Nations on Nov. 20, 2000 to reaffirm the Outer Space Treaty, of which the U.S. was a leader in enacting (years ago) which sets aside space for peaceful purposes. And it's been a success so far to keep war out of space. Well, the vote was a 163 at the U.N. to reaffirm the outer space treaty and specifically its provision that space be kept for peaceful purposes. The United States abstained, and this was under Clinton.

The best idea of what's ahead under George W. Bush -- unless we stop it all, I think that's what we really need to put our energies into -- comes through the Rumsfeld Commission or the Space Commission and it outlines the scheme. I have pages in front of me that read: "In the coming period, the U.S. will conduct operations 'to, from, in and through space' in support of its national interest both on earth and in space." It's far more than missile defense. Now that's all we're hearing, if anything at all, from the mainstream media -- missile defense. They talk about how the president should have the option to deploy weapons in space to deter threats and if necessary, to defend against attacks on U.S. interests, transform U.S. military capabilities to power projection in, from and through space. The report goes on to propose the creation of a U.S. Space Corps, like the Marine Corps, to be the warriors in space. In a few years, possibly, the Space Corps would become the Space Department, like the Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force -- a new and separate service. We have a national administration which is working with the military and the aerospace corporations and the ultra-conservative think tanks -- Heritage Foundation and others-- all pulling, together basically to turn the heavens into a war zone.

Between The Lines: Russia and China have articulated a position which opposes in any way, shape or form, a U.S. missile defense system such as the one envisioned by George W. Bush. What's your view of how stoppable or unstoppable this drive toward a new era of space weaponry is?

Karl Grossman: It's going to take a grassroots movement nationally and internationally to stop it. Once we move into space with the lasers and all the other stuff that the new Bush administration wants -- the hyper-velocity and particle beam weapons -- you're going to see the Russians and Chinese meet us in kind. The Indians will be up there with weapons and we, the United States, will precipitate -- as we stand at the dawn of a new century, a new millennium -- the start of an arms race in space. And ultimately and inevitably a war in space. And no one will profit other than Lockheed Martin and Boeing and Raytheon and TRW, the principal contractors of the aerospace companies. The principal contractors in Star Wars.

Contact the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space at (352) 337-9274

Listen to this interview with: Karl Grossman.

For links to the Rumsfeld Report, U.S. Space Command Web site, and related interviews, visit our Web site archive for the week ending 2/23/01:

Scott Harris is WPKN Radio's public affairs director and executive producer of Between The Lines. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly newsmagazine, Between The Lines, for the week ending Feb. 23, 2001.

Between The Lines Q&A is compiled and edited by Anna Manzo. To get details on subscribing to the radio program or to publish this column in print or online media, contact us at (203) 544-9863 or send an e-mail to:

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