cultivate culture


Vision for 2020: blow yo’ ass up with space lasers!
May 11, 2008, 11:40 pm
Filed under: society, technology

FIve years ago, I got into the anti-“ballistic missile defense” movement after flipping through two documents that I just refound on the net.

The first was a report by MIT and the Union of Concerned Scientists called “Counter Measures” (the document is hundreds of pages, but they have since made a short video :), you’ll need realplayer). It argued that the system is doomed to fail both technically and practically.

The second was “Vision for 2020“, a United States Space Command document from 1996 outlining their goals from missile defense up to the year 2020. This document showed BMD as only the first stage in a plan that leads the US into “dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investments. Integrating Space Forces in war-fighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict.” Also, it writes the “control of space is the ability to assure access to space…and an ability to deny others the use of space, if required.” The image on page 15 of a satellite laser weapon blasting what is very clearly Iraq supports this notion of preemptive attack through space.

At that time, Canada was being asked by the States to join the missile defence system. Working with other students and with the help of the group Science for Peace, we did a public lecture on the issue. I really got into it. That Halloween, I even dressed up as BMD:

So, five years later, I check in again. What’s happened since? Well…

In 2005, Canada, through the words of Paul Martin, officially ‘pulled out’ of missile defense shield. However, it seems this was more of a gesture to quell public dissent than to actually affect policy. Canadian companies, scientists, and military have continued to work towards manifesting a missile defense shield.

In 2006, Bush and the US government came out with a new “National Space Policy“. Unfortunately, it’s even more aggressive (encouraging a move to “develop and deploy space capabilities that sustain U.S. advantage.”).

Nevertheless, there have been some specific decisions by the Canadian government slowing the advancement towards the militarization of space. Most recently (just a couple days ago), Industry Canada blocked the sale of Canada’s space industry’s star company, MDA, to Alliant Techsystems, a big arms manufacturer involved in missile defense. MDA is the developer of the Canada Arm and Radarsat II (a superduper detection system). This move should not be taken lightly. It is the first time in the history of the country that Industry Canada has blocked any such sale (where both seller and buyer were in agreement). Though this move was not directly against missile defense, it shows that the Canadian government cares about the soviergnty of its space industry, and that soviergnty conflicts with the vision for 2020.

So in closing, the last five years seem to have strengthened the argument that missile defense is much more about industrial relations and growth, than about potential enemies and the capability to defend against them. There may be some people that think those political and economic benefits (to some) warrant taking steps towards the weaponized space envisioned in VIsion for 2020. I still don’t.

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