Waging War in the Heavens: Profit and Power Go Hand in Hand as the U.S. Gears Up to Spread Its Military Influence to Vet Another Vast Region-Outer Space

By Eisendrath, Craig | USA TODAY, November 2006 | Go to article overview

Waging War in the Heavens: Profit and Power Go Hand in Hand as the U.S. Gears Up to Spread Its Military Influence to Vet Another Vast Region-Outer Space


Eisendrath, Craig, USA TODAY


AS RESEARCH ON SPACE weaponization reaches into the billions of dollars, and the first deployment of national missile defense has taken place in Vanderburg Air Force Base, Calif., and Ft. Greeley, Alaska, it is time to put these issues before the public. What exists is the possibility of a worldwide arms race in outer space and the expenditure of trillions of dollars to arm space and deploy a national missile defense system capable of dealing not only with rogue states such as Iran and North Korea, but more substantial potential opponents like China or even the Russian Federation. Whatever the merits of space weaponization and national missile defense, these programs need to be discussed fully by Congress and the general public.

According to Mike Moore, former editor of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and author of Space Cop, "Space warriors are part of a professional belief community whose members have certain overarching paradigms--one being that conflict in Space is probable, if not inevitable, and the United States must therefore prepare for it by taking unilateral action that would give [it] control of space in a time of conflict." This view is championed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who holds that the U.S. has been so derelict in not arming space that it is vulnerable to a potential "Space Pearl Harbor."

A version of this space-control mindset appeared in the U.S. Space Command-issued document, "Vision of 2020." On the first page, in oversize type, it reads, "U.S. Space Command--dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into war-fighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict." Citing the development of sea and air power, the report states, "Over the past several decades, space power has primarily supported land, sea, and air operations--strategically and operationally," as in the first Gulf War or the invasion of Iraq, when space was used to identify targets and guide weapons. "During the early portion of the twenty-first century, space power will also evolve into a separate and equal medium of warfare. Likewise, space forces will emerge to protect military and commercial national interests and investment in the space medium due to their increasing importance."

Moore wonders what would happen if China or Russia, or even Great Britain or France, had said it planned to dominate outer space militarily within 15 or 20 years? The U.S., he maintains, would demand a change of policy, or call upon the international community to impose sanctions. "But if such measures failed, the world would have a new space race," he says, and that would be "outrageously expensive; it would suck intellectual resources and scarce capital into black holes of mutual suspicion; it would compromise the ability of nations to meet everyday human needs. Worse, it would make fruitful international cooperation on mitigating a host of pressing global problems considerably less likely.

"The United States may have the best of intentions when it speaks of achieving a space-control capability. It may have no notion of ever denying access to space to another country except in extremis. It may have no wish to vaporize the satellites of other nations or to demolish buildings with devices launched from , orbit unless a war were in progress, but what nation could afford to rely on the everlasting good intentions of another nation, even the United States?"

Moore cites the problem, often raised by critics, that space weaponization is being driven by those corporations, such as Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and TRW, which benefit from the , tens of billions of dollars of defense contracts. Although profit is a motive, the overwhelming driver in shaping defense policy is a conviction that space weaponization is the way to defend the U.S. and its vital interests, argues Gen. Chuck Homer, former commander-in-chief of the U. …

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