19 October, 2006

space is the place for the new arms race - full spectrum dominance

manifest destiny reaches for the stars, from the Independent:

A new policy recently signed by President George Bush, asserts that his country has the right to conduct whatever research, development and "other activities" in space that it deems necessary for its own national interests.

The new policy further warns that the US will take those actions necessary to protect its space capabilities "and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile" to those interests. The document adds: "Space activities have improved life in the United States and around the world, enhancing security, protecting lives and the environment, speeding information flow serving as an engine for economic growth and revolutionising the way people view their world and the cosmos."

"Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power."

In some respects the policy represents the space equivalent of the "Bush Doctrine" national security policy initially outlined by Mr Bush in a speech at West Point military academy in June 2002. At that event - and later more formally codified - Mr Bush said the new US policy would place more emphasis on military pre-emption and unilateral actions.
. . .
In part the new directive builds on the space policy of the Clinton administration. But some believe its new, hardline rhetoric will increase international suspicions that the US is seeking to develop and deploy weapons in space.

"The Clinton administration opened the door to developing space weapons but that administration never did anything about it. The Bush policy now goes further," [said] Michael Krepon, of the Stimson Centre . . . In 2004 . . . the US Air Force published a highly controversial plan for establishing weapons in space, amid speculation that advanced lasers, spacecraft and space-based weapons firing 100kg tungsten bolts were being developed. And earlier this year it was revealed that the Pentagon was seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from Congress to test and develop space weapons. . . . the policy . . . claims that national security is "critically" dependent upon space capabilities. As a result it calls on the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, to "develop and deploy space capabilities that sustain US advantage and support defence and intelligence transformations".
. . .
When proposals to ban the weaponisation of space have been put forward at the UN, the United States has routinely abstained. But last October the US voted against a UN resolution calling for the banning of weapons in space. Likewise, the US has repeatedly resisted efforts to hold negotiations on the issue of banning the placement in weapons by the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament.

Wade Boese of the Arms Control Association said the language in the new policy was "much more hard line" than any that previously existed. He added: "We believe that this allergy to treaties is counter-productive. The US has the most to lose if there is an arms race in outer space in the long run. If the US [puts weapons in space], other countries will respond in some way."

. . .

The Clinton administration in 1999 revived Ronald Reagan's "star wars" space-based anti-missile shield as the Pentagon pushed for a more aggressive military posture in space amid warnings that North Korea, Iran and Iraq could obtain nuclear weapons. The programme became known as "son of star wars". Space weapons could include lasers that can shut down rival satellites and "killer" satellites that could ram others.

The new Bush policy calls for space-based capabilities to support missile-warning systems, and "multi-layered and integrated missile defences" that could lay the groundwork for the militarisation of space.


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