|Keep weapons out of space
November 2, 2001
By SEAN COCKERHAM
Bruce Gagnon travels three weeks out of each month, but wherever he is Gagnon looks at the moon.
The moon, Gagnon told an audience of about 75 people at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Thursday night, is one symbol that connects all people despite their location and dissimilarities.
Now, the Florida-based peace activist continued, envision military bases on the moon and orbiting battle stations in the night sky.
"We together now stand at a historic moment," said Gagnon, the coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.
Gagnon argued to the UAF audience that the proposed national missile defense system is not about defense at all, but is rather a "Trojan horse," designed to open the door for U.S. military control of space.
Judging by the nodding of heads and vocal expressions of agreement from the audience during his speech, Gagnon had a largely sympathetic audience at the Schaible Auditorium on campus.
The Pentagon proposes to make Fort Greely, outside of Delta Junction, the site for interceptor missiles that would be launched against a limited attack of nuclear missiles. The incoming warheads are to be shot down above the Earth's atmosphere.
There was an audience member on Thursday who opined that the proposed system is important for American security, a point of view that Gagnon took sharp aim at during his speech.
Gagnon argued that, not only would the proposed missile shield not work, there is no actual threat to justify an attempt at its construction.
Mentioning the North Koreans--often cited as one of the "rogue states" that the shield is designed to protect America from--Gagnon pointed out that North Korea does not have nuclear missiles and has suspended its testing program.
He added that China has only 20 such missiles while the United States has about 7,500.
"Go to Wal Mart," he advised the audience. "The United States is China's best customer. They are not going to bomb us with nuclear missiles."
The Pentagon and other missile defense backers, not surprisingly, espouse views of the proposed system that are completely at odds with those expressed by Gagnon.
They claim that North Korea is not far from developing a missile that can strike the United States, and that a technologically effective missile shield can indeed be created.
Building a missile defense system, the backers argue, makes sense for security in a sometimes hostile world of terrorists and unpredictable regimes with fledgling missile capabilities.
But Gagnon claimed that the proposed missile defense system is not about defense, since it cannot really provide it.
Rather, it is to open up the taps of government funding and lead the way for a series of weapons that can allow the U.S. to control space, he believes. Gagnon cited military statements regarding the importance of space capabilities to the future of successful warfare.
Gagnon repeatedly spoke of a slogan of the U.S. 50th Space Wing in Colorado, "The Masters of Space." An attempt at such control of space--whether it be for military purposes or to mine resource-rich planetary bodies--would lead to an arms race, he said.
"Other countries will not stand by and watch the United States become masters of space," he said.
The United States, Gagnon said, needs to sign on to a treaty that would ban weapons in space.
Gagnon had previously spoken in Anchorage and is now headed to Kodiak. His visit to Alaska is sponsored by Citizens Opposed to Defense Experimentation, a group that includes the Fairbanks-based No Nukes North.