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Waging War in Space | The Nation

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Waging War in Space

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"Master of Space"--a motto of the United States Space Command, a joint Air Force, Army and Navy command set up by the Pentagon in 1985--says it all. Our military leaders seek to control outer space, and dominate the earth, by basing weapons in space. Corporate America is deeply involved.

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Judith Long
Judith Long is The Nation's copy chief.
Karl Grossman
Karl Grossman is the author of the forthcoming Weapons in Space (Seven Stories) and the new TV documentary Star Wars...

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This is not a picture from your kid's sci-fi comic. It's an illustration from a report by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Space Commission. The report advocates circumventing the intent of international laws (notably, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967) that seek to keep space free from war and urges that the President "have the option to deploy weapons in space." National Missile Defense, begun as Star Wars under Reagan, is just one layer of this much larger scheme to "control" space and "dominate" the earth, in the words of the report. "The United States is seeking to turn space into a war zone," maintains the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (www.space4peace.org). To read the entire Space Commission report go to www.defenselink.mil/pubs/spacechapter2.pdf.

As soon as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney take up the reins of government, they'll give a big boost to waging war in and from space. Under their leadership, right-wing advocates of US global dominance and corporations eager for contracts will join forces with a military eager to make space the battleground of the twenty-first century.

Indeed, Star Wars--"missile defense" in current Newspeak--is emerging as a central goal of the new Bush Administration. It is "an essential part of our strategic system," declared Colin Powell upon being named Secretary of State.

"I wrote the Republican Party's foreign policy platform," claimed Bruce Jackson, vice president of corporate strategy and development at Lockheed Martin, the world's largest weapons manufacturer [see William D. Hartung and Michelle Ciarrocca, "Star Wars II," June 19, 2000], which is deeply involved in space military programs. In a recent interview, Jackson said that although he was "the overall chairman of the Foreign Policy Platform Committee" at the Republican convention, he hasn't led the advocacy for the full development of Star Wars because "that would be an implicit conflict of interest with my day job" at Lockheed Martin.

Such advocacy, he said, has fallen to Stephen Hadley, George W. Bush's pick for deputy director of the National Security Council. Hadley, Bush Senior's assistant secretary of defense for international security policy and a member of his National Security Council, is a proud member of the Vulcans, an eight-person foreign policy team formed during the Bush campaign that includes future National Security Council director Condoleezza Rice and Reagan Administration superhawk Richard Perle. The Vulcans named themselves after the Roman god of fire and metallurgy, and for a statue in Rice's hometown, Birmingham, Alabama, commemorating its steelmaking history.

Besides being a Vulcan, Hadley is a partner in Shea & Gardner, the Washington law firm representing Lockheed Martin. Hadley has also worked closely with Bruce Jackson on the Committee to Expand NATO--based in the offices of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute--Jackson as president, Hadley as secretary. The committee sought to enlist Eastern European countries in NATO--which would, of course, build the client base for Lockheed Martin weapons.

"Space is going to be important. It has a great future in the military," Hadley told the Air Force Association Convention in a September 11 speech. Introduced as an "adviser to Governor George W. Bush," Hadley said that Bush's "concern has been that the [Clinton] Administration...doesn't reflect a real commitment to missile defense.... This is an Administration that has delayed on that issue and is not moving as fast as he thinks we could."

To remedy that, Bush has named as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whom the Washington Post calls the "leading proponent not only of national missile defenses, but also of U.S. efforts to take control of outer space" [see Michael T. Klare, page 14]. In 1998 Rumsfeld's commission reversed a 1995 finding by the nation's intelligence agencies that the country was not in imminent danger from ballistic missiles acquired by new powers, declaring that "rogue states" did pose such a threat. The answer? Missile defense. Trusted adviser to and financial supporter of the right-wing Center for Security Policy, Rumsfeld has been awarded its Keeper of the Flame prize. On the center's advisory board are such Star Wars promoters as Edward Teller--and Lockheed Martin executives, including Bruce Jackson.

"This so-called election was a victory for putting weapons in space, at enormous cost to world stability and to US taxpayers," declares Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (www.space4peace.org). He points to Bush campaign statements about deploying "quantum leap weapons" and about Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories playing a major role in the development of "weapons that will allow America to redefine how wars are fought." Both labs have been deeply involved in space-based lasers, an integral part of Star Wars. In 1998 the Defense Department signed a multimillion-dollar contract for a "Space-Based Laser Readiness Demonstrator" and this past November solicited final comments on development of the program, estimated to cost $20-$30 billion. Lockheed Martin, TRW and Boeing are the contractors. (Lynne Cheney has just resigned from the board of Lockheed Martin. Dick Cheney has been on the board of TRW.)

The military's would-be space warriors, meanwhile, are bullish. The US Space Command's top general, Ralph "Ed" Eberhart, exhorts the Air Force to "be the space warfighters our nation needs today...and will need even more tomorrow." The Air Force command's Almanac 2000 touts "defending America through the control and exploitation of space." The Air Force in the twenty-first century must be "globally dominant--Tomorrow's Air Force will likely dominate the air and space around the world."

The Vulcans, Keepers of the Flame and Lockheed Martin et al. will be cheering them on.

"US Space Command--dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict," says the command's Vision for 2020, a report whose colorful cover depicts a laser weapon in space zapping targets on the Earth below--its goal in the next two decades. "Space is the ultimate high ground," says the Air Force Space Command.

In 1996 the Space Command's commander in chief, Gen. Joseph Ashy, put it bluntly. "It's politically sensitive, but it's going to happen.... we're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space.... That's why the US has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms.

"We'll expand into these two missions--space control and space force application [military jargon for control of Earth from space]--because they will become increasingly important. We will engage terrestrial targets someday--ships, airplanes, land targets--from space. We will engage targets in space, from space."

An Air Force board report, New World Vistas: Air and Space Power for the 21st Century, says: "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.... These advances will enable lasers...to effect very many kills."

The projection of US power by means of deadly technology has other nations understandably upset. This past January in Geneva, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the UN's annual Conference on Disarmament to "codify principles which can ensure that outer space remains weapons-free." At the March session of the conference, China's Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs Li Changhe called for an international law forbidding not only nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in space--as does the 1967 Outer Space Treaty--but "any weapons" in space.

"Outer space is the common heritage of human beings," declared Wang Xiaoyu, First Secretary of China's mission to the UN. "It should be used entirely for peaceful purposes and for the economic, scientific and cultural development of all countries as well as the well-being of mankind. It must not be weaponized and become another arena of the arms race." In November 138 nations voted in the UN General Assembly to reaffirm the Outer Space Treaty and its provision that space "shall be for peaceful purposes." Only the United States and Israel abstained. Assistant secretary of the Air Force for Space Keith Hall says, "Space dominance, we have it, we like it and we're going to keep it."

And money flows for it. The budget for Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars," now known under the Clinton Administration as Ballistic Missile Defense, has held steady at about $4 billion a year. Extra billions are secret, or "in the black." This past March Congress approved an additional $6.6 billion through 2005.

Follow the money and you find corporate America. A Space Command report called Long Range Plan, issued last year, says that "the development and production process...involved...about 75 corporations" in space weapons projects. Also last year, a contract for a Space-Based Laser Readiness Demonstrator was signed. A poster for the project shows a laser firing a beam in space above the curve of the Earth's surface. An American flag floats in the heavens like an aurora borealis. A seal shows the "team" working on the project: TRW, Boeing, the Air Force, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.

As if these space-based lasers, hypervelocity guns and particle-beam weapons aren't nightmare enough, they'll likely be nuclear powered, according to New World Vistas. "Setting the emotional issues of nuclear power aside," says the report, "this technology offers...large amounts of power in space." It also offers the specter of a fleet of Chernobyls orbiting the Earth.

Please contact the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (www.globenet.free-online.co.uk; 352-337-9274; globalnet@mindspring.com). The heavens belong to all of us.

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