Arming outer space
Ruth Rosen
Thursday, November 13, 2003
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URL: sfgate.com/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2003/11/13/EDG11308KV1.DTL

LOOK UP at the sky. Imagine space-based weapons orbiting the globe, ready to zap or nuke any country declared an imminent threat to the United States.

No, this is not science fiction. It is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's vision of global domination.

Before he headed the Pentagon, Rumsfeld was chairman of the Commission to Assess U.S. National Security Space Management Organization. In its final report, submitted to Congress on Jan. 11, 2001, it warned, "If the United States is to avoid a 'Space Pearl Harbor,' it needs to take seriously the possibility of an attack on U.S. space systems." The commission recommended the creation of a U.S. Space Corps that would defend our space-based "military capability."

Rumsfeld's report was actually a tamer version of an earlier Department of Defense Space Command document -- "Vision for 2020" -- that, on its Web site, showed laser weapons shooting deadly beams from space, zapping targets on Earth. Beneath this sci-fi image crawled the words "U.S. Space Command dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investments."

"Vision for 2020" rightly predicted that the global economy would widen the gap between "the haves" and "the have-nots." By deploying space surveillance and weaponry, the United States would have the ability "to control space," and, from this higher ground, "to dominate" the Earth below.

By appointing Rumsfeld as his defense secretary, President Bush chose a man whom the Washington Post described as "the leading proponent not only of national missile defenses, but also of U.S. efforts to take control of outer space."

Since then, the Air Force Space Command has issued a progress report, "Strategic Master Plan FY04 and Beyond (SMP)," which puts forth the U.S. intention to dominate the world by turning space into a crucial battlefield.

In the introduction, Gen. Lance W. Lord proudly writes, "As guardian of the High Frontier, Air Force Space Command has the vision and people to ensure the United States achieves space superiority today and in the future. A new space corps will fight from and in space."

"Space," according to the SMP, "is the ultimate high ground of military operations . . . . Our vision calls for prompt global-strike systems with the capability to directly apply force from or through space against terrestrial targets. Space superiority is essential to our vision of controlling and fully exploiting space to provide our military with an asymmetric advantage over our adversaries."

The immediate goal, according to the SMP, is to prevent anyone else from launching space-based weaponry. To dominate the globe, the United States must dominate outer space.

Clearly, this space-based vision is useless against terrorist attacks in Iraq or Afghanistan. China, however, believes it is the unnamed enemy who might be the target of this country's newly articulated policies of pre-emptive war and global supremacy.

Last September, China fought hard at the U.N. Conference on Disarmament in Geneva for an agreement that would prevent an arms race in outer space. The Bush administration, as usual, insisted that an international treaty was unnecessary.

Rumsfeld's dream is dangerous. It not only violates the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which wisely prohibited the militarization of space, but also threatens to reignite the arms race, this time in space. It is also hugely expensive, costing hundreds of billions of dollars that could be used to care for people who live right here on Earth.

Look up at the heavens. Do we really want to leave future generations with a legacy of space-based warfare? If not, let's pressure every presidential candidate, as well as President Bush, to keep the heavens free of weapons of mass destruction.

E-mail Ruth Rosen at rrosen@sfchronicle.com. For documentation, go to www.wslfweb.org/space/spacedocs.htm

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