Master of Space
by Karl Grossman - professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury.
The Irish Times, Monday, February 5, 2001
On November 1, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted to reaffirm the Outer Space Treaty--the fundamental international law that establishes that space should be reserved for peaceful uses.
Almost 140 nations voted for the resolution entitled "Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space." It recognizes "the common interest of all mankind in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes," reaffirms the will of all states that the exploration and use of outer space "shall be for peaceful purposes and shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries," and declares "that prevention of an arms race in outer space would avert a grave danger for international peace and security."
Only two nations declined to support this bill -- the United States and Israel. Both abstained.
For the United States, the issue goes way beyond missile defense. The U.S. military explicitly says it wants to "control" space to protect its economic interests and establish superiority over the world.
Several documents reveal the plans. Take Vision for 2020, a 1996 report of the U.S. Space Command, which "coordinates the use of Army, Navy, and Air Force space forces" and was set up in 1985 to "help institutionalize the use of space."
The multicolored cover of Vision for 2020 shows a weapon shooting a laser beam from space and zapping a target below. The report opens with the following:
"U.S. Space Command -- dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict." A century ago, "Nations built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests" by ruling the seas, the report notes. Now it is time to rule space. "The medium of space is the fourth medium of warfare--along with land, sea, and air," it proclaims on page three. "The emerging synergy of space superiority with land, sea, and air superiority will lead to Full Spectrum Dominance."
The Air Force publishes similar pamphlets. "Space is the ultimate 'high ground," declares Guardians of the High Frontier, a 1997 report by the Air Force Space Command. Proudly displayed in that report is a Space Command uniform patch and motto: Master of Space. Nuclear power is crucial to this scenario. "In the next two decades, new technologies will allow the fielding of space-based weapons of devastating effectiveness to be used to deliver energy and mass as force projection in tactical and strategic conflict," says New World Vistas: Air and Space Power for the 2lst Century, a 1996 U.S. Air Force board report. "These advances will enable lasers with reasonable mass and cost to effect very many kills.... Setting the emotional issues of nuclear power aside, this technology offers a viable alternative for large amounts of power in space."
Corporate interests are directly involved in helping set the U.S. space doctrine -- a fact the military flaunts. In its 1998 "Long Range Plan," the U.S. Space Command acknowledges 75 participating corporations -- including Aerojet, Hughes Space, Lockheed Martin, and TRW.
The pr spin is that the U.S. military push into space is about "missile defense" or defense of U.S. space satellites. But the volumes of material coming out of the military are concerned mainly with offense -- with using space to establish military domination over the world below.
"It's politically sensitive, but it's going to happen. Some people don't want to hear this, and it sure isn't in vogue, but - absolutely - we're going to fight in space," General Joseph W. Ashy, the former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Space Command told Aviation Week and Space Technology in 1996.
"We're going to fight from space, and we're going to fight into space. That's why the U.S. has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms. We will engage terrestrial targets someday -- ships, airplanes, land targets -- from space."
Space is "increasingly at the center of our national and economic security," agreed General Richard B. Myers, current commander-in-chief of the U.S. Space Command, in a speech entitled "Implementing Our Vision for Space Control," which he delivered in April 1999 to the U.S. Space Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"The threat, ladies and gentlemen, I believe is real," he said. "It's a threat to our economic well-being. This is why we must work together to find common ground between commercial imperatives and the President's tasking to me for space control and protection."
"With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it, and we're going to keep it," said Keith Hall, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space, in a 1997 speech to the National Space Club. "Space is in the nation's economic interest."
In Congress, one avid booster of U.S. space dominance is Senator Bob Smith, Republican of New Hampshire. Smith believes that national security depends on "space supremacy." He is interested in breaking up the Air Force and creating a "Space Force."
Even the Council on Foreign Relations -- usually characterized as centrist -- has come on board. In 1998, it published a booklet entitled Space, Commerce, and National Security, written by Air Force Colonel Frank Klotz, a military fellow at the council.
"The most immediate task of the United States in the years ahead is to sustain and extend its leadership in the increasingly intertwined fields of military and commercial space. This requires a robust and continuous presence in space," says the report.
The U.S. government is pouring massive amounts of public money -- an estimated $6 billion a year, not counting what is secretly spent -- into the military development of space. And the United States has signed a multi-million dollar contract with TRW and Boeing to build a Space-Based Laser Readiness Demonstrator. The military's poster for this laser shows it firing a ray into space while above it an American flag somehow manages to wave.