Bush orders the militarisation of space

In signing the recent executive order creating a new National Space Policy, President Bush has announced that the US will reject future arms-control agreements that might limit US military manoeuvrability in space. The document further announces that the US “will preserve its rights, capabilities and freedom of action in space ... and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests."

“Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power,” the policy declares and that to “increase knowledge, discovery, economic prosperity, and to enhance the national security, the United States must have robust, effective, and efficient space capabilities.”

One wonders why the US fears other countries may have “hostile” intentions in the use of their space capabilities. Clearly the answer has to be because this is exactly what the US is itself intent on using space for. What else was Clinton’s Star Wars programme all about?

The White House, however, insists that the new policy does not refer to the development or deployment of weapons in space. Indeed, in those sections of the policy made widely available recently, there is no explicit reference to the militarization of space. However, while the policy document insists that the main concern of the US is to “strengthen the nation’s space leadership”, to facilitate “US operations in and through space to defend our interests there”, it boldly asserts that national security is critically dependent upon space capabilities.

Moreover, it calls upon Donald Rumsfeld, the hawkish Defence Secretary and John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, to “develop and deploy space capabilities that sustain US advantage and support defence and intelligence transformations.” In this regards the policy document adheres to the militaristic and offensive tone that runs through every national defence document the White House has produced since Dubya’s inauguration.

Clearly the US dislikes anything perceived as an attempt to muscle in on its standing as the foremost power in space and the world’s leading military power; the two titles now looking likely to merge. Hence, US concerns about the EU’s Galileo project. At the outset, the US feared the project would allow the transfer of state of the art technology to countries it perceives as antagonistic to its interests. What really spooked Washington was the realisation that China was investing £150 million in Galileo.

Michael Kriepon of the Stimson Centre told the Washington post: “The Clinton administration opened the doors to developing space weapons, but that administration never did anything about it. The Bush policy now goes further.” (The Independent, 19th October).

One wonders just how other countries will now respond to US ambitions for the militarization of space for, make no mistake, this is exactly what Washington’s masters of war have in mind – this is full spectrum dominance in the making. Back in 1999, when Republican hawks celebrated a Senate vote not to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and announced their intention to scupper the 1972 ABM Treaty which outlawed Star Wars missiles systems capable of intercepting incoming missiles, Russian Defence Minister Nikolai Mikolov, acknowledging Russia could not match US technology, declared Russia would simply deploy more warheads capable of overwhelming the US nuclear umbrella system.

Theresa Hitchens of the Washington based Centre for Defence Information said: “You would think that we would have learnt our lessons about the danger of military pre-emptive action and unilateralism in Iraq, yet we are repeating the same policy towards space.” (The Independent, 19th October).

Experts argue that the new space decree has put the US on perilous path in so far as it extends Bush Doctrine policy to brand new military arena, whilst at the same time discarding endeavours to limit US military ambitions.

National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones, in an attempt to discourage the military significance of the new policy, said: “Technology advances have increased the importance of and use of space…Now, we depend on space capabilities for things like ATMs, personal navigation, package tracking, radio services, and cell phone use.” (Asia Times, 20th October)

What really concerns international observers and the US ‘s budding competitors, and which should concern all of us, is that the US absolutely refuses to negotiate any space arms-control agreement. Washington is promoting the line that because there is currently no space-arms race then there is no need for any such accord – which is utter hypocrisy when one considers the number of actual international agreements in existence, aimed at maintaining the peace, preventing weapons proliferation and the like , that the US refuses to ratify or even acknowledge.

Meanwhile, though, the US Air Force has produced the Counterspace Operations Doctrine, calling for “a more active military posture in space,” and arguing that defence of US satellites and spacecraft necessitates the use of “deception, dirpution, degradation and destruction.” Nothing like a bit alliteration to hammer your message home.

Make no mistake; the militarization of space is now well underway. The very fact that the US is playing down the military dimension of its new space policy is evidence it wants a real head start and to thus be in a position to better oppose any country with similar ambitions.As socialists have announced several times in recent years, if we are to prevent the 21st Century becoming a more violent re-run of the 20th, that witnessed two world wars, the first use of nuclear weapons and many hundreds of smaller conflicts – all in the name of profit – it is essential we, the victims, the cannon fodder, the class that has the biggest price to pay to satisfy the whims of the mighty, begin to organise now; not tomorrow when space is militarised, nor in years to come when the sirens are screaming and lasers are zapping the planet from US defence satellites orbiting the earth . We as a class have suffered too much and have too much to lose to leave decisions regarding the future of our planet in the hands of group of arrogant, conceited and profit crazed individuals. Let’s really organise to take their power away now, before it is too late.

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