8 August 2001

by Bruce Gagnon

When Congress returns to Washington after the summer recess they will finish up debate and decision making on the 2002 budget process.

Of particular note to those concerned about war in space will be what becomes of George W. Bush's request for an additional $8.3 billion for Star Wars.

The Senate and House Armed Services Committee's will tinker with the numbers first and then send it along to the full bodies for debate.

The word coming out of Washington DC is that the Democratic Party wants to move about 1-2 billion dollars from Star Wars into other Pentagon programs like building more ships or increasing troop pay.  This would be what the Democrats would call a "cut" in Star Wars funding.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is said to hold the cards on what will happen.  Because of the even nature of power in the Senate his vote will be crucial in determining what will come of  the so-called cut.

Not on the agenda of the Democratic Party, or Republicans of course, is any debate about Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) which the U.S. will use to "forward deploy" and surround China.

Also not on the agenda of either party is the subject of real cuts in Star Wars research and development (R & D) funding in 2002.

This apparent reality underscores our concern that heavy emphasis must now go into building a grassroots movement to stop the nuclearization and weaponization of space.  Until we pump energy and resources into building real grassroots momentum across the nation and world the Washington DC "shell game" will continue.  The "solid south" could use some attention from the funders and the progressive movement.  Hiring organizers to work this issue in rib-rock conservative states for a couple of years just might bear fruit in time.  Rather than pleading with Lieberman and the conservative Democratic Leadership Conference (DLC) to do the right thing we must articulate a series of demands (no TMD, no R & D, no space-based laser) and create the political grassroots muscle to back them up.  Power never concedes without demand. The sooner we get started the better.

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