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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.

About the Author

Judith Long
Judith Long was 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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A report by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Space Commission advocates circumventing the intent of international laws that seek to keep space free from war and urges that the President "have the option to deploy weapons in space."

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.

"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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