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The Irony of Bush’s Indignation

Irony is usually defined as “the humorous or mildly sarcastic use of words to imply the opposite of what they mean.” If someone says with a smile, for example, that US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales “is, of course, a strong upholder of habeas corpus for all citizens of the United States”, that is an ironical statement becuase it is demonstrably untrue. It is good to have a sense of irony, because the dictionary tells us it is used also “to draw attention to incongruity or irrationality”, and the world is full of unintended ironies which are sometimes hilarious. Like Gonzales himself, for example.

There are instances of irony when some governments irrationally pursue policies they criticize in others. In no way is this more marked than in the Bush administration which threw a fit because a couple of weeks ago China tested an anti-satellite missile which destroyed one of its own old satellites.

Shock and horror exploded from Bunker Bush. How dare the Chinese do this?

Bush’s National Security Council spokesman declared on January 18 that “the US believes China’s development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area”. The Voice of America reported that “A senior State Department official says the United States wants China to explain why it developed an anti-satellite weapon, calling the move “inconsistent with the constructive relationship” on the use of space agreed to by the two countries’ presidents.”

Garbage.

One of these two presidents, GW Bush, signed into effect his personal Space Policy in August 2006, and the White House decided to let the world know about a small part of it the following October. Much of it is Secret, so US citizens don’t know exactly what is intended for the squillions of their tax dollars being used by the Bush war-makers to antagonize the rest of the world, but the public bits are scary enough.

Bush declared he will “enable unhindered US operations in and through space to defend our interests there.” (Mars is obviously a Republican planet.) On his orders the Pentagon is to “develop capabilities, plans, and options to ensure freedom of action in space, and, if directed, deny such freedom of action to adversaries.” This formalized the Bush administration’s intention to treat space as a new and more exciting battlefield. It is a blunt warning to any country with satellites that they had better watch out, because Bush baby is coming to get you if you dare exercise “freedom of action”. And make no mistake : it will be Bush and his power-crazed gnomes who will define exactly what “freedom of action” means.

One self-awarded Bush freedom in space is the Pentagon’s “Rods from God” program which involves satellites armed with tungsten rods measuring about one foot by twenty feet that can be fired earthwards at over 6000 mph to any target of White House choosing. The effect is “nuclear without the fallout”. The program is so highly classified that very few people know anything about it. But of course the Chinese do — and it is this knowledge that resulted in Beijing’s (and Moscow’s) efforts to develop technology intended to prevent US satellites hurling bolts of quasi-nuclear destruction at their cities.

But the really ironical thing is that Bush refused to consider talking with any other nation before making his declaration of space supremacy. He was particularly opposed to dialogue with China, giving the lie to his spokesman’s nonsensical bleating about “cooperation”. But China–the largest nation on earth, and of enormous importance in international affairs–has shown it does not take kindly to being treated with casual contempt, especially by an oaf like Bush. Its anti-satellite missile test was no big deal, technologically (both the US and Russia are far ahead–for the moment), but it has shown Bush to be what we all know him to be : a posturing and laughably incompetent would-be bully.

As long ago as July 2005 Wade Boese wrote in The American Prospect that “China, along with Russia, continues to press for talks on outer space. Chinese Ambassador Hu Xiaodi argues, ‘The practices of only selecting items of concern to oneself while refusing to consider items of high priority to others . . . are not conducive to the work in [the Conference on Disarmament]’.” But Bush and his people don’t believe in diplomacy. They consider that having discussions on matters of importance to other countries would be an indication of weakness. Confrontation, not cooperation, is the name of the game.

At the General Assembly of the United Nations seven weeks ago there were many important subjects brought up (although we wouldn’t have learned that from the US media), not least of which was the potentially catastrophic deployment of weapons in outer space. Here’s part of what the UN recorded:

“Concerns about an arms race in outer space were again addressed this year, in two texts. The traditional resolution on preventing an arms race in outer space reaffirmed the urgency of preventing such an arms race and the fact that the existing legal regime applicable to outer space needed to be reinforced, with the Conference on Disarmament playing the primary role in negotiating agreements on the issue.

The Assembly adopted the resolution by a vote of 178 in favor to 1 against (United States), with 1 abstention (Israel).”

Then there was:

“By a second resolution, on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer-space activities, the Assembly invited all member states to submit concrete proposals on such measures to the Secretary-General before the Assembly’s sixty-second session and requested the Secretary-General submit a report on those proposals at the Assembly’s next session.

The Assembly adopted the resolution by a vote of 178 in favor to 1 against (United States), with 1 abstention (Israel).”

The Cheney-Bush administration thus declared itself to be opposed to preventing or controlling an arms race in space because in its arrogance it believes that other countries, including US allies, count for nothing. (And let there be no weasel-word quibbling about the difference between “space” and “outer space”.) At the UN the White House, encouraged by the mad fanatic Bolton, voted against measures to bring nations together in agreement concerning a budding crisis that could be disastrous for our planet.

The fact that outer space could become yet another battle region was deplored by 178 nations who seek to do something about it, but Bush, as usual, presses on regardless of friend or foe in his lunatic belief that the rest of the world (apart from Israel) is in the wrong. He glories in making it known that he is prepared to make war on any nation that might interfere with his psychotic determination to play God.

So when China showed that it is capable of destroying a satellite there was an hysterical outburst of self-righteous indignation. This is a serious matter, but we have to admit that it has its ironically humorous side–if only because it has made Bush look even more of a fool than usual. The fact remains that planet Bush cares not a rap about the consequences of its determination to militarize space. We are heading for disaster unless the Washington administration begins to negotiate about space weapons with governments in Moscow and Beijing and other international parties. Don’t hold your breath.

BRIAN CLOUGHLEY spent five weeks in October-December in Pakistan, with a visit to Afghanistan. He can be reached through his website at www.briancloughley.com.

 

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Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

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