Space Cowboy

The White House has just released the new U.S. National Space Policy from the Bush administration. The new document makes several policy departures from past space doctrines. They include:

* Calling for the deployment of offensive weapons systems in space to “deter” and “deny” others the “use of space.” This is a very provocative notion and will give the Pentagon the green light to put anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons in space that would be able to destroy other countries satellites.

* Saying the U.S. will “oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space.” This means that the U.S. is now on record as being totally opposed to the development of an international treaty at the United Nations that would ban all weapons in space. The treaty, annually promoted by Russia, China and Canada, seeks to close the door to the barn before the horse gets out. The U.S. and Israel have been blocking such a treaty since during the Clinton years.

* The Bush administration military doctrine today calls for “preemptive” attack and “unilateral actions” around the world to protect corporate interests like oil and other diminishing resources. Thus we saw the 2003 “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq and now hear talk that a similar attack on Iran might be pending. The administration now says that it will no longer be bound by international treaties which would “inhibit” Bush’s ability to strike at any time and any place on the Earth. Space technology, says the military, becomes crucial to U.S. ability to create “full spectrum dominance.”

One of the first things the Bush administration did once in office was to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia that limited the development and deployment of weapons in space. It is thus no surprise that George W. Bush now comes forward with this new national space doctrine that tells the Pentagon to move ahead with Star Wars.

A key reason for America’s desire to kill the U.N.’s space weapons ban treaty negotiations is that the military-industrial complex views space as a new market. The weapons corporations have been saying for decades that Star Wars will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth. Both Democrats and Republicans get the message and understand that their corporate sponsors want them to leave the door open to a new costly and destabilizing arms race in space.

One other key element of the new Bush space policy is the expanded use of nuclear power systems to “enable or significantly enhance space exploration or operational capabilities.” What this means is that the aerospace industry wants to establish mining colonies on the Moon, Mars and other planetary bodies and they want to power these bases with nuclear reactors. The military has also long been saying they need nuclear reactors in space to provide power for space weapons systems. So the nuclear industry also plans to utilize space as a new market for increasing corporate profits.

Just weeks ago, from Oct. 1-8, peace groups around the world took part in our annual Keep Space for Peace Week of local actions. Protests, teach-ins, video showings and other activities were organized in order to help expand the consciousness of the people of the world about the need to move now to protect space from a new arms race. Not only will putting weapons in space be expensive, but it will also be incredibly destabilizing for the world. Already we see the tragic growth in the nuclear arms race on Earth. Will arming the heavens with weapons make us safer? Absolutely not.

The time has come for the American people to call on Congress to cut funding for the research and development of Star Wars technology. Let’s use our hard-earned tax dollars to fund health care, education and environmental clean-up here on our home planet. Let’s work now to prevent another maddening arms race from happening before it is too late.

BRUCE K. GAGNON is Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He can be reached at: globalnet@mindspring.com




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Bruce K. Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space based in Brunswick, Maine.

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