Seeking New World Vistas: The Militarization of Space

Seeking New World Vistas: The Militarization of Space

Seeking New World Vistas: The Militarization of Space

Seeking New World Vistas: The Militarization of Space

Synopsis

The military is moving slowly but surely toward a world in which weapons will be stationed in outer space, and officials argue that these developments are essential to the maintenance of U.S. national security in the post-Cold War world. Handberg explores these recent proposals for change and assesses the policy implications that might well result in a challenge to proponents for the militarization of space. Taking the reader through the first Sputnik launch and then the Gulf War, the "first space war," Handberg introduces his audience to a broad overview of space as an arena for the conduct of military activity. He argues that the new policies are likely to result in a world that is less, not more, secure.

Excerpt

Space is first of all a place or location but it also represents a unique state of mind. By that, I mean simply that when contemplating space strictly in military terms, too often the observers lose their minds: becoming infatuated with the twin dreams of instant total destruction achieved by means of a precise antiseptic depersonalized warfare. In this fevered dream, the results achieved are so accurate and unerring that the euphemistic collateral casualties (meaning civilians, innocent and otherwise) are minimized or avoided altogether. Only the enemy's military assets are touched by the extreme violence. The earlier Douhet myth of "the bomber will always get through has been transmuted into the myth of the inevitable rain of destruction from the heavens. The perfect unstoppable weapon becomes like a force of nature when destroying the enemy after you have first terrorized them with their inevitable doom. In fact, effective employment of space technology for military purposes has usually proven difficult and expensive to accomplish, and the results have usually not been quite as overwhelming as the true believers crave in their heart of hearts.

It is this contradiction we will explore. Rhetorically, the military space enthusiast's answer to disappointment has always been to wait until the next military space technological breakthrough or spectacular innovation demonstrates the reality of space power. That time of demonstration may be close at hand, forcing hard choices that are being debated only among a few, not out of deliberate secrecy or exclusion, but rather because of the disinterest of the many. Accelerating technology development and its implications are forcing choices; those who persist . . .

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