Activist expresses concern with space defense policy

October 21 2000

Elaine Morgan of The Tampa Tribune

Guest speaker Bruce Gagnon traveled to Lakeland during the past week to warn the United Nations Association of the dangers of putting nuclear weapons into outer space.

``It磗 a sad fact of America that we are promoting global instability,创 said Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, which is based in Gainesville. ``People don磘 want to hear that.创

Gagnon addressed the Polk County Chapter of the association Wednesday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, challenging members to spread the word of the devastation that will result from the ``Star Wars创 Strategic Defense Initiative program.

He compared the United States to a schoolyard bully determined to dominate the world by arming space. He said that weapons make up the chief export of the United States, and corporations use military personnel at embassies throughout the world to serve as unpaid ``sales representatives创 to promote their products.

``The policy today is to create a new arms race,创 he said.

At the same time, Gagnon added, the most vulnerable of citizens will be impoverished to pay billions or trillions of dollars for projects like the International Space Station and even more expensive plans to mine planets and asteroids.

``I call it `Pyramids to Heaven, 创 said Gagnon. ``The aerospace corporations are the pharaohs of the space age. The workers are the slaves. They are moving toward a global slave class.创

He warned that once billions have been spent to build elaborate space networks, the government will turn the projects over to the corporations, leaving the taxpayers nothing to show for their contributions.

Capt. Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the Air Force in Washington, D.C., said that policies on space are still in the making and that focus certainly will be on protecting the ``friendly use of space.创 He said that commercial uses of space already are in place and have to be protected, and he said the country needs a national debate to determine policy.

``Freedom of action in space, just as on the seas, is essential to the United States, whether in peace or war,创 he said, adding that it is ``just a matter of time创 until some nation in the world becomes a threat to security in space.

Gagnon displayed dozens of pages from books, magazines and newspapers to offer evidence of the intentions of planners of space programs. He quoted from a Space News editorial that presented an option of raising $400 billion for space installations by cutting the ``fat创 from entitlement programs.

He said that the ``entitlement programs创 had to mean Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or welfare assistance to the poor.

Other pages shown by Gagnon indicated plans by the United States to prevent the use of space by other countries. A Pentagon directive referred to the possibility of ``neutralizing创 military or commercial assets of other countries in space. An article referred to intercepting shipments of goods borne by space vehicles from other countries.

``To the rest of the world, that磗 piracy,创 said Gagnon.

Gagnon stated that China has asked for the United States to join in placing a ban on weapons in space.

``We have this brief moment in history to stop this nonsense,创 said Gagnon. ``Let磗 call the bluff of the Russians and the Chinese when they want to sign a ban treaty. It is totally verifiable. Nobody could launch anything that technology could not expose.

``The United States is unwilling to discuss it.创

An additional charge made by Gagnon was that uranium and plutonium from ``space junk创 is certain to be released into the air breathed by humans as pieces of the junk burn when re-entering earth磗 atmosphere.

DellaVedova said that some current military tactics, including use of the B-2 bombers, already are thought to be ``space weapons创 because they cannot do their jobs without the assistance of satellites. The United States might be denied use of these weapons, he added, if a ban on arms in space existed.

The ultimate military policy will be one determined by politicians, laws and treaties, DellaVedova said, pointing out that the U.S. Congress appointed an 11-member commission of space experts to study the issue.

``Space is going to play an increasing role in the future of America,创 said DellaVedova.

``There needs to be a national debate about space policy.创

Joe Wells, shuttle spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at Cape Kennedy, said that NASA has no role in arming space but that his office gets many calls from people who somehow hold NASA responsible for ``Star Wars.创

``It was decided very early on that we would be a civil service effort,创 said Wells.

Gagnon, 48, speaks throughout the United States and soon will present his message in Japan and England.

His first role as an activist was in organizing Florida farm workers, and he served as coordinator for Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice from 1983 to 1998. He organized the Cancel Cassini Campaign that was featured on the television program, ``60 Minutes.创

He can be reached at P.O. Box 90083, Gainesville FL 32607 or at

Home Page