A New Arena of War

6 September

by: Karl Grossman


The plan of the United States to make space a new arena of war is being pushed aggressively. The appointment by President George W. Bush in August of General Richard B. Myers to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-to be America's top military commander-puts more of the pieces together for the drive by the U.S. to turn the heavens into a war zone.

Myers is former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Space Command, which "coordinates" U.S. space military operations. Under him, the Space Command advanced its scheme to "control space" and from there "dominate" the earth below. Missile defense is a "layer" of this broader scheme. In the headline of its article on General Myers appointment, the middle-of-the-road U.S. News & World Report referred to him as "General Starwars."

As the general stated in a 1999 speech-titled "Implementing our Vision for Space Control"-the U.S. must move ahead "to implement what is essentially a framework for space control-a fully integrated framework based on partnerships with other Department and Defense and civil agencies, with Industry, and with our foreign partners." (The latter is where the United Kingdom comes in.)

Now, General Myers has a great opportunity to move on that mission, serving under U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, himself a big Star Wars booster, and an administration intimately tied to the aerospace corporations and representing the right-wing of the Republican Party, both long Star Wars promoters.

The blueprint for the Bush-Cheney administration's Star Wars drive is the report issued earlier this year of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization, the so-called "Space Commission" chaired by the  Rumsfeld. The report emphasizes: "In the coming period, the U.S. will conduct operations to, from, in and through space in supports of its national interests both on earth and in space."

It urges the U.S. president "have the option to deploy weapons in space." It stressed that it is "possible to project power through and from space in response to events anywhere in the world" and this would give the U.S. "an extraordinary military advantage."

It recommends "missile defense." However, a reading of this and other U.S. government and military documents show "missile defense" as a "layer" or part of a broader space military program.

Vision for 2020, a space military plan for the year 2000 issued by General Myers' Space Command, opens by declaring: "U.S. Space Command--dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict."

It prominently featuring a graphic of a laser shooting a beam down from space zapping a target below and compares the U.S. Star Wars scheme to how centuries ago "nations built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests," how the empires of Europe ruled the waves and thus the world.

The U.S. commercial interests that necessitate America ruling space and from it the world? Vision for 2020 stresses the corporate global economy of which the U.S. is the engine. "The globalization of the world economy will...continue with a widening between 'haves' and 'have-nots,'" says Vision for 2020. The view apparently is that by controlling space and the Earth below, the U.S. will be able to keep those "have-nots" in line.

"Now is the time," says the U.S. Space Command's Long Range Plan, "to begin developing space capabilities, innovative concepts of operations for warfighting, and organizations that can meet the challenges of the 2lst Century...Space power in the 2lst Century looks similar to previous military revolutions, such as aircraft-carrier warfare and Blitzkrieg."

Far more than reports and rhetoric are involved. Last December, the Clinton administration gave the go-ahead for development of the Space-Based Laser, now underway at NASA's Space Flight Center in Mississippi. The full "lifecycle budget" of the project is put by the U.S. military at $20 to $30 billion. It is a joint undertaking of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and TRW. The promotional poster for this laser shows it firing its ray in space while an American flag somehow manages to wave in space above it. Another space-based laser project is the Alpha high-energy laser built by TRW which has conducted more than 20 test firings. Other space weapons systems are in development.

What the U.S. is seeking is in violation of the intent of the basic international law on space, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which sets space aside for "peaceful purposes."

Indeed, last November, because of what the U.S. is up to, a resolution on "Prevention of An Arms Race In Outer Space" was voted on at the UN General Assembly. The resolution reaffirmed the Outer Space Treaty and specifically, its provision that space be reserved for "peaceful purposes." Some 163 nations voted in favor. The U.S. abstained.

Canada, certainly in no way a potential foe of the U.S., has been a leader in seeking to preserve and strengthen the Outer Space Treaty. At the UN presentation last year, Marc Vidricaire, counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Canada, declared: "Outer space has not yet witnessed the introduction of space-based weapons. This could change if the international community does not first prevent this destabilizing development through the timely negotiation of measures banning the introduction of weapons into outer space."

"It has been suggested that our proposal is not relevant because the assessment on which it rests is either premature or alarmist," he said. "In our view, it is neither.  One need only look at what is happening right now to realize that it is not premature...There is no question that the technology can be developed to place weapons in outer space.

There is also no question that no state can expect to maintain a monopoly on such
knowledge -- or such capabilities -- for all time.  If one state actively pursues the weaponization of space, we can be sure others will follow."

The U.S. has been blocking the Canadian initiative.

China and Russia, meanwhile, are also strongly in favor of a strengthened Outer Space Treaty. Indeed, China has been introducing a resolution of its own seeking a ban on weapons of space, which the U.S. has also been blocking.

"If the U.S. is allowed to move the arms race into space, there will be no return," says Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power In Space, with which the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is closely affiliated. (The chair of the Board of Advisors of the Global Network is CND's Dave Knight.) "We have this one chance, this one moment in history, to stop the weaponization of space from happening."

The U.S. needs what General Myers called "our foreign partners" to provide resources on the ground-command-and-control facilities such as Menwith Hill and Fylingdales.  Indeed, in the U.S. Space Command's Long Range Plan there is a page devoted to "Global Partnerships." Under the word "Partnerships" and above the words "Potential Initiatives to Enable Control of Space, Global Engagement, Full Force Integration" is an oval with the flags of nine nations. The Union Jack lies to the right of the American flag (which is at the center).

That document, all the documents noted in the article, are publicly available-are, in fact, on the Internet. Very slowly, mainstream media in the U.S. are getting to realize that what is being spun as "missile defense" is a wider program involving space-based U.S. hegemony. The New York Times, the newspaper of record in the U.S., on August 5 published a magazine cover article by Jack Hitt in which Hitt wrote: "NMD stands for national missile defense...And yet the political attention devoted to national missile defense...has obscured its larger purpose...NMD is but one part of a triad of technologies...that, the Air Force hopes, will lead to total 'space control.'

George Friedman, an intelligence consultant and the author of The Future of War, calls the national missile defense plan a 'Trojan horse' for the real issue: the coming weaponization of space."

Nevertheless, the leaders of Prime Minister Tony Blair's government appear to still be in the dark. As Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw maintained in a Parliamentary Labour Party Briefing on NMD in August, "This is not Star Wars" but a program with "a much more limited objective to deploy effective defences against limited missile attack."

What planet does the Rt. Hon. Jack Straw live on?

Karl Grossman is professor of journalism at the State University of New
York/College at Old Westbury. He wrote and narrates the new video
documentary Star Wars Returns available for purchase from CND's London
office and is the author of Weapons In Space published by Seven Stories
Press (212.226.8760 or <http://www.info@sevenstories.com>)  The website of
the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space is
<http://www.space4peace.org>



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