27 June 2005
The Bush administration is expected to announce a national space policy that will give the Pentagon the green light to move toward deployment of offensive weapons in space.
The new directive could allow deployment of lasers in space; attack vehicles that descend on targets from space; killer satellites, which would disrupt or destroy other nation's satellites; and tungsten rods fired from space platforms that would gather speeds of over 7,000 mph and be able to penetrate underground targets.
In the Air Force Space Command's Strategic Master Plan for fiscal year 2006 and beyond, the military said, "Our vision calls for prompt global strike space systems with the capability to apply force from or through space against terrestrial targets. International treaties and laws do not prohibit the use or presence of conventional weapons in space."
There was once a treaty that limited the research, development, testing and deployment of such offensive space systems. It was called the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia. Once in office, George W. Bush withdrew the United States from the treaty and moved forward with expanded research and development on offensive space weapons.
The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq was largely coordinated from space. More than 70 percent of the weapons used in the war were guided to their targets by military satellites. Thus, the Pentagon maintains the United States must "deny" other nations the use of space in order to maintain "full spectrum dominance."
To sell this space warfare program to the American people, the Pentagon has labeled it "missile defense." But the program is all about offensive engagement and was first spelled out in the 1997 Space Command Plan, Vision for 2020, that called for U.S. "control and domination" of space.
To date, the United States has spent well more than $130 billion on Star Wars research and development. The budget for military-related space activity in 2003 was $18 billion and is expected to top $25 billion a year by 2010. With growing budget deficits, Congress will have to drastically cut needed programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, education and environmental clean-up to pay the growing cost of space weapons technology.
The world has become reliant on satellites for cell phones, cable TV, ATM bank machines and the like. Space debris is already a problem as space shuttles have had windshields cracked by bits of paint orbiting the Earth at enormous speeds. Imagine what would happen if the Unites States began destroying satellites in space, creating massive amounts of orbiting space junk that made access to space virtually impossible for everyone.
For the last several years the Space Command, headquartered in Colorado Springs, held a computer simulation space war game set in the year 2017. The game pitted the "Blues" (U.S.) against the "Reds" (China). In the war game the United States launched a pre-emptive first strike attack against China using the "Global Strike" military space plane. Armed with a half-ton of precision-guided munitions, the space plane would fly down from orbit and strike anywhere in the world in 45 minutes.
It is easy to see why Canada, Russia and China have repeatedly gone to the United Nations asking the United States to join them in negotiating a new global ban on weapons in space. Why not close the door to the barn before the horse gets out? So far the United States, during both the Clinton and Bush administrations, refuses even to discuss the idea of a new space treaty.
Gen. Lance Lord, head of the Air Force Space Command, recently told Congress, "Space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny." The idea that the United States is destined to rule the Earth and space militarily needs to be debated by the citizens of our nation. Not only is this a provocative notion, it is also one that will lead to a massive waste of our hard-earned tax dollars and create a dangerous new arms race. Do we really want war in the heavens?
Bruce Gagnon of Brunswick is coordinator of the Global Netowrk Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space