8. Planned Weapons in Space Violate International Treaty

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on

Title US Violates World Law to Militarize Space
Source Earth Island Journal, Winter/ Spring 1999
Author Karl Grossman

Title Pyramids to The Heavens Space
Source Toward Freedom, September/ October 1999
Author Bruce K. Gagnon

Community Evaluator Rick Williams, Attorney At Law
Student Researcher Julia O’Connor
Mainstream Coverage The Huntville Times, 11/7/99, Editorial, D2

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 bans the deployment of space weapons of mass destruction. Recently the U.S. Congress ignored further need of such a treaty, and approved the development of the U.S. Military’s Space Command Weapons program. This sudden shift of viewpoint coincides with the complete absence of any foreign government competition, and with the increase in the ability of the US to effectively use satellite surveillance in military campaigns. The proposed system is designed to extend control of space far beyond the outer boundaries of the Earths atmosphere. To prevent deployment of any adversarial countrys satellites, the Pentagon is well along in its research and development of an anti-satellite weapons program. The reemergence of a “Star Wars” weapon system is echoed in the words of General Joseph Ashly, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Space Command: “It’s politically sensitive but its going to happen…we are going to fight from space and we are going to fight into space.” Concerned with the possibility of nuclear contamination of the atmosphere from satellite breakup, the European Space Agency has urged the US to utilize solar power to fuel space-military command modules.

Coverage 2000

Karl Grossman has continued to publish articles on this subject in numerous alternative news sources, and his Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service press wire, “We need to prevent an arms race in space,” was followed by a lengthy, sympathetic cover story in U.S. News & World Report entitled, “The New Space Race.” The June 2000 issue of In These Times included a piece by Jeffrey St. Clair whose facts and point of view reflected Grossman’s and Gagnon’s.

Elsewhere in the media, the Denver Post reported on a Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center missile defense technology test, citing critics’ warnings against the expense and infeasibility of the technology and its power to ignite international conflict, as well as discussing the internal political forces affecting President Clinton’s choice of whether to continue with the project. The Minneapolis Star Tribune pulled no punches in ridiculing the military’s missile defense program, its fears of “rogue states” and “viciously anti-American” threats to U.S. security, and its use of scare tactics to coerce U.S. allies into supporting its race toward space domination. An editorial by Kitty Boniske, a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom referred specifically to the writings of Grossman and Gagnon. The Lancaster, PA, Intelligencer Journal covered a speech by Gagnon in which he stridently condemned the current government’s culpability in plotting to “dominate space.”

In September 2000, the New York Times ran a 1,400-word, front section story on the American military’s efforts to convert its air base in Thule, Greenland, to Ballistic Missile Defense use, quoting a Greenland government official as saying, “No one in Greenland wishes to take actions that would lead to recreating the atmosphere of the cold war era.” Another official remarked, “The United States is very alone in the project.” The article also addressed U.S. demands that Canada lend itself to America’s space weapons agenda, quoting an editorial in Canada’s Globe and Mail to the effect that “the national missile defense system is a dumb idea,” and stating that Mr. Clinton should substitute “sense for macho posturing.”

This article followed six months of outraged press in both England and Canada regarding U.S. machinations to make use of their countries to further its Space Command manifesto. The Toronto Star ran three stories between May and September, and the Montreal Gazette quoted Canadian Defense Minister Art Eggleton as angrily announcing, “We’re not going to be blackmailed” when the Space Command threatened that they “would have absolutely no obligation to defend” Canada from attack if they did not put themselves at the disposal of the U.S. military space program. In England, stories ran strongly protesting the involvement of the Menwith Hill military base in a U.S. escalation of the nuclear arms race and calling Prime Minister Blair’s willingness to participate in America’s “Star Wars defence system” a “threat to Britain’s security.” References to Russia’s possible retaliation to our disregard of the 1972 ABM Treaty were also made.

Interestingly, Karl Grossman’s 1999 article figured in an Internet debate that raged for several months after Censored 2000’s publication. Don Hazen, former publisher of Mother Jones, started the debate in an editorial on his new Web-based alternative news service. Hazen disagreed about the value of the stories selected by the project. The Project Censored entries Hazen cited as “lame” included Grossman’s “U.S. Violates World Law to Militarize Space.” Grossman responded to Hazen’s criticism by publishing a seven-page “Critique of the Critique” on the San Francisco Bay Guardian Web site (http://www.sfgb.com/censored-debate/), in which he substantiated the facts and sources for his story, its lack of mainstream coverage, the worsening of the situation since his 1999 article, the disastrous details of NASA’s current experiments and future space weapons plans, and the many ramifications of the Army Space Command’s philosophy and program. So far Grossman has had the last word, and the mainstream press coverage that has begun to leak out this year provides evidence of the reality and seriousness of his claims, especially in the face of the administration turn-over. Whereas the Clinton Administration favored land-based missile defense, the Bush administration promises to pursue “a far more ambitious shield.” Donald Rumsfeld, Bush nominee for Secretary of Defense, is a leading proponent of Star Wars technology.

Unfortunately, sources have not picked up on the Cassini space probe, the Price-Anderson Act that limits U.S. liability in case of a nuclear accident, or the potential dangers of future nuclear-powered space shots.

Bruce Gagnon and the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space have become increasingly active in the past year. The group can be contacted at http://www.globenet.free-online.co.uk.

SOURCES: Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, November 6, 1999; The Nation, December 27, 1999, “Waging War in Space,” The Progressive, January 2000 & Space News, January 31, 2000, “Master of Space,” Earth Island Journal, “Spring 2000 & Third World Resurgence, No. 116, “Astro Imperialism: War in Space,”http://www.sfbg.com/censored-debate/gross.htr. April 19, 2000,”A Critique of the Critique,” & NETWORK, July/August 2000, “The Pentagon Prepares to ‘Master Space’,” all by Karl Grossman; U.S. News & World Report, November 8, 1999; Ashville Citizen-Times, March 21, 2000; The Toronto Star, May 3, May 7, & September 6, 2000; The Montreal Gazette, May 3, 2000; Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 14, 2000; In These Times, June 12, 2000, “Star Wars: Episode Two. The Pentagon’s Latest Missile Defense Fantasy,” by Jeffrey St. Clair; The Independent (London), June 19, 2000; The Washington Post, June 25 & December 30, 2000; The Denver Post, July 7, 2000; The Observer, August 6, 2000; The New York Times. September 18, 2000; Intelligencer Journal, September 27, 2000.

2000 Update by Author Karl Grossman

The U.S. push to make space a new arena of war intensified since the 2000 Project Censored citation-and media under-reporting on this drive continued.

For example, on November 20, 2000, because the U.S. plans contradict the intent of the basic international law on space-the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which seeks to keep war out of space-there was a vote in the U.N. General Assembly to reaffirm the Outer Space Treaty and specifically its provision that space be set aside for “peaceful purposes.” Some 163 nations voted in favor. The United States abstained. Did you read about this anywhere? Did you hear it reported on the air?

Last year, too, the Department of Defense moved ahead with development of the “Space-Based Laser.” The “life-cycle budget” for the laser program “is estimated at $20-30 billion,” said a statement from the Army’s Redstone Arsenal. Where was this reported?

In 2000, too, Canada-and no one can say that Canada is a potential foe of the United States-continued its efforts to prevent the weaponization of space citing U.S. military space plans. In a speech October 19 at the U.N., Marc Vidricaire, counselor of the Permanent Mission of Canada, said: “It has been suggested that our proposal is not relevant because the assessment on which it rests is either premature or alarmist. In our view, it is neither. One need only look at what is happening right now to realize that it is not premature.” Where was this reported?

And it is easy for anybody-including journalists-to learn about what is happening. It’s brazenly displayed on the website-www.spacecom.af.mil/usspace–of the U.S. Space Command. (The Space Command was set up by the Pentagon to “help institutionalize the use of space.”) Among the plans displayed is Vision for 2020, its cover featuring a laser weapon in space zapping a target below, and opening with the declaration: “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.” Vision for 2020 then compares the U.S. effort to “control space” and from it the Earth below to how centuries ago “nations built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests,” how the great empires of Europe ruled the waves and thus the world. And Vision for 2020 stresses the global economy. “The globalization of the world economy will also continue, with a widening between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’” The U.S. Space Command is prepared to help keep those “have-nots” in line.

The U.S. military documents make clear that missile defense, the extent of mainstream media reporting on U.S. plans for space warfare, is just one “layer” in a bigger program.

And, in 2000, with the Bush-Cheney takeover, the United States got an administration gung-ho for Star Wars, intimately linked to the right-wing organizations and aerospace corporations which with the U.S. military have been pushing it.

Exploring these links in December 2000, I called Bruce Jackson, vice president of corporate strategy and development for a major Star Wars contractor, Lockheed Martin. “I wrote the Republican Party’s foreign policy platform,” Jackson said in the interview. He was a delegate to the 2000 Republican National Convention, he noted, and “the overall chairman of the Foreign Policy Platform Committee.” Amazing-a high official of the world’s biggest weapons manufacturer having written the foreign policy platform of the new Bush administration.

Also amazing: a computer search on Jackson that came up with one article, in The Washington Post, about his chairing the foreign policy platform committee, which included comments from him. A little detail was not included: Jackson being Lockheed Martin’s vice president of corporate strategy and development.

So it goes. Seven Stories Press will be publishing my Weapons in Space in 2001. A new video documentary I wrote and narrate, Star Wars Returns (available from the independent TV production company EnviroVideo at 1-800-ECO-TV46) will be out in 2001. But as a journalist all my working life, I so wish our media would do their job and provide people with information on a huge story of our time: the U.S. push to turn the heavens into a war zone.

2000 Update by Author Bruce K. Gagnon

Excerpted From “Space is Where Spirits Soar”

What is our vision for the heavens? On a beautiful starry night do you look up to the moon and the stars and feel the connection to the ages? Can you imagine military bases on the moon and constellations of space-based lasers orbiting our planet? Can you envision the new military space plane, the successor to the shuttle, dropping off new space-based weapons systems and then returning to earth?

We are at a defining moment in history as the United States leads the rest of the world into this new space age that ripples with technological advances and challenges the peace and environmental movements to update our thinking and our organizing.

… The ballistic missile defense system is sold to the American people as a way to protect us from attack by “rogue” states, or as they are now called, “states of concern.” National missile defense is the $60 billion program to protect the continental United States from “attack.” North Korea, one so-called possible enemy, has suspended its missile-testing program and is now negotiating reunification with South Korea. China, another state of “concern,” has only 20 nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States, while we have 3,500 to “hit back.” Chinese officials have been asking over and over again for the United States to join them in signing a global ban on weapons in space. The United States refuses to discuss such a ban saying that there is “no problem.”

Then there is the program called theatre missile defense (TMD) that aims to deploy these systems into the Middle East and Asia to “protect” U.S. interests and outposts. TMD will place weapons on ground launchers, ships, and airborne lasers so that the United States can hit “offending” ballistic missiles in their boost phase, right after launch.

The U.S. Space Command, with its logo “Master of Space,” is also working hard to develop the space-based laser (SBL) program, the “follow-on” technology to missile defense. Its expressed intention is to use this program to protect corporate interests and investments around the globe as the gap widens between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” The Space Command will become the military instrument by which corporations maintain their global control.

The $30 billion SBL program will soon begin construction of a test facility. The SBL, the real Reagan-era Star Wars program, will deploy a constellation of 20 to 30 lasers orbiting the earth with the job of knocking out competitors’ satellites and hitting targets on earth. These lasers could very possibly be powered by nuclear reactors. Imagine what would happen if they tumbled back to earth.

…We must call out to the public to help us keep space for peace. We must demand that the politicians rescind plans for “missile defense” and the space-based laser. We must say that space will be protected as a wilderness. The United Nations recognized this when they created the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that says no weapons of “mass destruction” can be put into the heavens. The treaty says that the heavenly bodies are the province of all human kind. We must call for the strengthening of this treaty, not its nullification.

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space can be contacted at P.O. Box 90083, Gainesville, FL 32607; (352) 337-9274; http://www.space4peace.org; globalnet@mindspring.com