The final frontier
On the front page of this morning’s WaPo Online the biggest most blaring hed reads, “Bush’s Revised Space Plan Puts Defense First.”
I did a little double-take, because Bush’s pie-in-the-sky space plan hardly seems like above-the-fold news at the moment, with scandals breaking out all over in Republican Washington, not to mention the fact that the Great American Experiment is teetering on the precipice. Then I shrugged and read on down the page, looking for news that had more imminent impact. Must be a slow news day, I thought to myself, if Bush’s space plan is the only thing the WaPo editors can come up with as a top story.
There was nothing else on the page that caught my immediate attention, other than LA Police Chief William Bratton’s guest column about why he thinks we don’t need another intelligence agency along the lines of Britain’s MI5. I agree with him. We don’t. We don’t need a KGB either, but I have a sneaking suspicion we’ve got one, anyway. Someone’s got to be available to detain all us “unlawful combatants.”
Shhh. It’s a secret.
When I got back to the home page from Bratton’s column, I looked at that top story hed again. And the sub-hed beneath it, the teaser.
“Experts say the shift in policy, which asserts the right to deny access to space to anyone ‘hostile to U.S. interests’ could be viewed as a step toward arms.”
Deny access to space to “anyone hostile to U.S. interests”?
I snorted laughter, sputtering my mouthful of coffee. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we nearly scuttle the shuttle for good over safety concerns? Isn’t there a big hoohaw over sending a shuttle crew to fix the Hubble Space Telescope again because of safety and cost, and to hell with scientific exploration and the continued illumination of the great mysteries of the universe? Didn’t the last Star Wars test fail miserably, again?
The last good news I’ve heard, outer space-wise, was that some tiny creeper robot we sent to Mars is inching toward the lip one of Mars’ giant canyons, and the photos and data it will send will soon be teaching us more about the red planet. Cool. But what in the world does any of that have to do with U.S. space ownership? Um, I don’t think we’ve got the corner on the universe, guys. At least, not yet.
How in the hell are we going to deny outer space access to others? Stomp our feets? Seems to me that we can’t deny access to space to anyone unless we have access ourselves, don’t you know.
But my understanding of these sorts of things is even less than my understanding of basic algebra, which is nada. So I read the rest of the story.
It seems to come down to this: The National Space Policy has been updated for the first time in ten years. It rejects any future arms-control agreements that might limit our “flexibility” in space and says we have the right to deny access to space to anyone “hostile to U.S. interests,” though it fails to explain how we might enforce that right. It encourages private enterprise in space in terms of “persuading other nations to support U.S. policy.”
Seems we’re concerned that other nations might try to take out our defense and communications satellites, disrupt cell phone services, personal navigation devices and (here’s an eye-opener) ATM machines.
Why didn’t I ever think of that before? Of course ATMs use satellite communications systems. Wow.
“The administration said the policy revisions are not a prelude to introducing weapons systems into Earth orbit. ‘This policy is not about developing or deploying weapons in space. Period,’ said a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record.”
“Nevertheless, Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonpartisan think tank that follows the space-weaponry issue, said the policy changes will reinforce international suspicions that the United States may seek to develop, test and deploy space weapons. The concerns are amplified, he said, by the administration’s refusal to enter negotiations or even less formal discussions on the subject.”
We know that George W. Bush would really, really like to have space-deployed weapons. It would be the ultimate in his wet-dreams of unilateral, pre-emptive, first-strike war capability. King George, indeed.
Just another little something to think about as you go to sleep at night, gang.