Master of Space
by Karl Grossman
The Progressive magazine, January 2000
On November 1, the General Assembly of the United Nations
voted to reaffirm the Outer Space Treaty-the fundamental international
law that establishes that space should be reserved for peaceful
Almost 140 nations voted for the resolution entitled "Prevention
of an Arms Race in Outer Space." It recognizes "the
common interest of all mankind in the exploration and use of outer
space for peaceful purposes," reaffirms the will of all states
that the exploration and use of outer space "shall be for
peaceful purposes and shall be carried out for the benefit and
in the interest of all countries," and declares "that
prevention of an arms race in outer space would avert a grave
danger for international peace and security."
Only two nations declined to support this bill-the United
States and Israel. Both abstained.
For the United States, the issue goes way beyond missile defense.
The U.S. military explicitly says it wants to "control"
space to protect its economic interests and establish superiority
over the world.
Several documents reveal the plans. Take Vision for 2020,
a 1996 report of the U.S. Space Command, which "coordinates
the use of Army, Navy, and Air Force space forces" and was
set up in 1985 to "help institutionalize the use of space."
The multicolored cover of Vision for 2020 shows a weapon shooting
a laser beam from space and zapping a target below. The report
opens with the following: "U.S. Space Command-dominating
the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests
and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities
across the full spectrum of conflict." A century ago, Nations
built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests"
by ruling the seas, the report notes. Now it is time to rule space.
"The medium of space is the fourth medium of warfare-along
with land, sea, and air," it proclaims on page three. "The
emerging synergy of space superiority with land, sea, and air
superiority will lead to Full Spectrum Dominance."
The Air Force publishes similar pamphlets. "Space is
the ultimate'high ground," declares Guardians of the High
Frontier, a 1997 report by the Air Force Space Command. Proudly
displayed in that report is a Space Command uniform patch and
motto: MASTER OF SPACE.
Nuclear power is crucial to this scenario. "In the next
two decades, new technologies will allow the fielding of space-based
weapons of devastating effectiveness to be used to deliver energy
and mass as force projection in tactical and strategic conflict,"
says New World Vistas: Air and Space Power for the 21st Century,
a 1996 U.S. Air Force board report. "These advances will
enable lasers with reasonable mass and cost to effect very many
kills.... Setting the emotional issues of nuclear power aside,
this technology offers a viable alternative for large amounts
of power in space."
Corporate interests are directly involved in helping set the
U.S. space doctrine-a fact the military flaunts. In its 1998 "Long
Range Plan," the U.S. Space Command acknowledges seventy-five
participating corporations-including Aerojet, Hughes Space, Lockheed
Martin, and TRW.
The PR. spin is that the U.S. military push into space is
about "missile defense" or defense of U.S. space satellites.
But the volumes of material coming out of the military are concerned
mainly with offense-with using space to establish military domination
over the world below.
"It's politically sensitive, but it's going to happen.
Some people don't want to hear this, and it sure isn't in vogue,
but-absolutely-we're going to fight in space," General Joseph
W. Ashy, the former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Space Command
told Aviation Week and Space Technology in 1996. "We're going
to fight from space, and we're going to fight into space. That's
why the U.S. has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill
mechanisms. We will engage terrestrial targets someday-ships,
airplanes, land targets-from space."
Space is "increasingly at the center of our national
and economic security," agreed General Richard B. Myers,
current commander-in-chief of the U.S. Space Command, in a speech
entitled "Implementing Our Vision for Space Control,"
which he delivered in April 1999 to the U.S. Space Foundation
in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"The threat, ladies and gentlemen, I believe is real,"
he said. "It's a threat to our economic well-being. This
is why we must work together to find common ground between commercial
imperatives and the President's tasking to me for space control
"With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like
it, and we're going to keep it," said Keith Hall, Assistant
Secretary of the Air Force for Space, in a 1997 speech to the
National Space Club. "Space is in the nation's economic interest."
In Congress, one avid booster of U.S. space dominance is Senator
Bob Smith, Republican of New Hampshire. Smith believes that national
security depends on "space supremacy" He is interested
in breaking up the Air Force and creating a "Space Force."
Even the Council on Foreign Relations-usually characterized
as centrist- has come on board. In 1998, it published a booklet
entitled Space, Commerce, and National Security, written by Air
Force Colonel Frank Klotz, a military fellow at the council. "The
most immediate task of the United States in the years ahead is
to sustain and extend its leadership in the increasingly intertwined
fields of military and commercial space. This requires a robust
and continuous presence in space," says the report.
The U.S. government is pouring massive amounts of public money-an
estimated $6 billion a year, not counting what is secretly spent-into
the military development of space. And the United States has signed
a multimillion dollar contract with
TRW and Boeing to build a Space-Based Laser Readiness Demonstrator.
The military's poster for this laser shows it firing a ray into
space while above it an American flag somehow manages to wave.
The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in
Space is challenging these plans. Next April, the Global Network
will come to Washington, D.C., for a protest, including a demonstration
at the U.S. Treasury to stress how much money is being spent by
the United States on military activities in space.
"If the U.S. is allowed to move the arms race into space,
there will be no return," says Bruce Gagnon, coordinator
for the Global Network, based in Gainesville, Florida. "We
have this one chance, this one moment in history, to stop the
weaponization of space from happening. The peace movement must
move quickly, boldly, and publicly."
"Above all, we must guard against the misuse of outer
space," said Kofi Annan as he opened the 1999 U.N. conference
on space militarization in Vienna. "We must not allow this
century, so plagued with war and suffering, to pass on its legacy,
when the technology at our disposal will be even more awesome.
We cannot view the expanse of space as another battleground for
our Earthly conflicts."
But, as the new century dawns, that is exactly what the U.S.
military is doing.
Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University
of New York/College at Old Westbury, wrote "The Wrong Stuff:
The Space Program's Nuclear Threat to Our Planet" (Common
Courage, 1997) and produced the video documentary "Nukes
in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens"
To reach the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear
Power in Space, call (352) 337-9274, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit its web site at http.//www globenet.free-online co.uk.