American Space Power – be afraid, be very afraid
The Project for the New American Century was a think tank created in 1997 that puts out whitepapers produced by high ranking American Neo-cons outlining their pax Americana wet dream world dominance fantasies. Effectively the intellectual underpinnings of the group is this “We won the cold war, how are we going to continue military and economic dominance over the rest of the planet”.
The fundamental essence of PNAC's ideology can be found in a White Paper produced in September of 2000 entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century." In it, PNAC outlines what is required of America to create the global empire they envision.
According to PNAC, America must:
* Reposition permanently based forces to Southern Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East;
* Modernize U.S. forces, including enhancing our fighter aircraft,
submarine and surface fleet capabilities;
* Control the "International Commons" of cyberspace;
* Increase defense spending to a minimum of 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, up from the 3 percent currently spent.
* Develop and deploy a global missile defense system, and develop a strategic dominance of space;
Eerilly most of these things have come to pass (including the PNAC argument to invade Iraq using regime change as the pretense), but it is the final idea, to “Develop and deploy a global missile defense system, and develop a strategic dominance of space” which concerns me. Look at this story in the weekend Herald about what America is trying to do in space, and while reading that – remember who the powerful group pushing this idea is – the PNAC.
As China intends to put a man on the moon and build a space station by 2020, the Bush Administration, committed to pre-emptive war and military supremacy, is fired by a sense of urgency. Its desire to dominate space involves fantastic weaponry, major geopolitical stakes, and big bucks.
In 2002 the US withdrew from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), which banned space-based weapons. Next February the MDA is expected to ask Congress to fund satellite-based interceptors, able to launch offensive weapons from space, possibly by 2011-12.
"The Administration has said they want to build a layered system that can shoot down missiles of any range - short, medium, long, ICBMs - from land, sea, air and space," said Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's former chief of evaluation during the first Bush and the Clinton eras. "Currently there are no attack weapons - shooters if you will - in space. But if we're going to put that kind of capacity in space, the first way it will likely happen will be because of MDA."
Given that it costs US$22,000 ($33,200) to send a kilogram into space, this is an expensive undertaking. Analysts expect the MDA will ask Congress for US$45 million for interceptors. This is mere seed money, a fraction of the US$441.5 billion US defence budget.
The big question is if the MDA's request will trigger a public debate about weapons in space.
"The Bush Administration has received a free pass from Congress on missile defence since 9/11," said Wade Boese, research director with the Arms Control Association. "If they went to space I think that changes it. This is a line many in Congress and the American public are reluctant to cross."
Nonetheless, advocates dream of having futuristic space weapons straight out of Flash Gordon. In its Transformation Flight Plan of November 2003 - which reveals what sort of weapons might be deployed in the future - the Air Force introduced Rods From God, a hypersonic cruise vehicle that would fire uranium, titanium or tungsten cylinders at targets at 11,585km/h, a vision that defies physics.