We fear star wars

by Claude Garrod and Judy Reynolds

We are now engaged in a conflict in Iraq that was unnecessary to begin and, if and when it ends, is likely to have very undesirable consequences for America's reputation in the world.

There are disturbing signs that our government intends to tremendously expand that conflict by taking military action against Iran. Therefore, it is with hesitation that we call attention to a third field of potential military expansion that may have negative effects that will dwarf the previous two, namely the extension of our offensive weapons systems into space which could bring about a dangerous space weapons arms race.

The driving force in all three military adventures is the intoxicating vision of U.S. national global dominance. The plan to control the surface of the planet from space has a number of basic elements:

At this point, the only irreversible decision that has been made by our government in this field is to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and to vigorously pursue the development of an antiballistic missile system as part of our national missile defense. These missile defense and space weapons were connected in a 2001 report from the Space Commission, where it was argued that the U.S. needs space-based weapons to defend satellites, and implies that the U.S. should deploy them as part of a national missile defense. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld headed that commission.

Recently, President Bush has signed a new national space policy that announces a permanent policy not to countenance any future arms control treaties that would in any way restrict our military or civilian space programs. This policy echoes the U.S. position in the United Nations last October when the U.S. voted against a call for negotiations on a space weapons ban - the only "no" against 160 "yes" votes.

Bush's new space policy is rife with belligerent language wherein the U.S. goals will "enable unhindered U.S. operations in and through space to defend our interests there;" "develop and deploy space capabilities that sustain U.S. advantage;" and "develop capabilities, plans, and options to ensure freedom of action in space, and, if directed, deny such freedom of action to adversaries;"

Two things make our aggressive attitude toward the militarization of space troubling. First, there are people in high positions who have extreme views on the weaponization of space. Second, there are corporations that stand to make huge amounts of money in any major arms race in space. A good example of the former is Dr. Everett C. Dolman, an influential analyst and Professor at the US Air Force School of Advanced Airpower Studies.

In a major recent paper, entitled "Space Power and US Hegemony," he begins by stating "The point of this essay is unequivocal. . . . If one accepts for the moment that space can be dominated, and that the state or entity that does so will have enormous advantage in the extension of military power on the terrestrial battlefield, among the obvious questions to emerge are, who could, who would, and who should dominate it?

"Here a case is made that the United States is the morally superior choice to seize and control space, and that it should endeavor to do so as soon as possible."

Dr. Dolman is no minor figure; regularly, at the School of Advanced Airpower Studies and in meetings in Washington and elsewhere, he gives his sage advice to highranking officers in our military and to other "deciders." Similar statements have been made by Donald Rumsfeld ("the U.S. government should vigorously pursue the capabilities called for in the National Space Policy to ensure that the president will have the option to deploy weapons in space to deter threats. . .and . . .defend against attacks on U.S. interests"); Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire ("American's future security and prosperity depend on our constant supremacy in space"), and other neoconservatives.

To reach the conclusion that large corporations will profit heavily from future space weaponization, one need look no further than the Iraq war where corporations such as Haliburton have made billions from our tax dollars to provide services that were once provided by the military. These corporations will be there to take our tax dollars again to pursue an arms race in space.

Several nations, including China and Russia, have been pressing for talks to ban space weapons. The U.S.'s intransigeant stand on this issue can only open the door to a deadly arms race and threats to commercial space asssets, including global positioning systems, from increased military satellites vying for space with anti-satellite weapons systems that other countries are bound to develop to protect themselves against American hegemony in this field.

We must contact our elected representatives to tell them that our government must negotiate a ban on space weaponization. It is only through such a treaty that the threat of an arms race in outer space can be prevented and the security of all outer space assets can be ensured. As we have learned from the Iraq war, negotiations, not belligerence, is the path to the maintenance of world peace.