Karl Grossman / Popular Resistance & Bruce Gagnon / Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space – 2018-08-20 12:40:29
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kevin Zeese / Popular Resistance
Note: — The article below focuses on space weapons and the Trump administration. It should be noted that in addition to the new president, there was a change in law that could set off a space weapons arms race. The Los Angeles Times reports:
“By removing a single word from legislation governing the military, Congress has laid the groundwork for both a major shift in US nuclear defense doctrine and a costly effort to field space-based weaponry.
“Experts say the changes, approved by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate, could aggravate tensions with Russia and China and prompt a renewed nuclear arms race. The bill awaits action by President Obama. The White House has not said what he will do.”
The word “limited” was a key word that was used to carefully balance US space weapons development in order to prevent a space arms race. But removal of the word was not even controversial. The Times reports: “Now, with virtually no public debate, bipartisan majorities in Congress have removed the word ‘limited’ from the nation’s missile defense policy. They did so in giving final approval over the last month to the year-end defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act.
“A related provision of the law calls for the Pentagon to start “research, development, test and evaluation” of space-based systems for missile defense.” When combined with the article below about President-elect Trump, the US seems to be on the verge of a major commitment to space weapons, furthering conflict with Russia and China.
Trump Expected To Deploy Space Weapons
Setting Off A Space Arms Race
Karl Grossman / CounterPunch
(December 24, 2016) — It is highly likely that the Trump administration will move to have the US deploy weapons in space. If this happens, it will be profoundly destabilizing, setting off an arms race and, also likely, leading to war in space.
For decades there’s been interest by US administrations — the Reagan administration with its “Star Wars” plan a leading example — in placing weapons in space. But that has alternated with some administrations more-or-less opposed, the Obama administration an example.
Still, no matter the administration, since work at the United Nations began in 1985 on a treaty seeking, as its title declares, the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, the US has not supported it. Canada, Russia and China have been leaders in urging passage of this PAROS treaty, and there has been virtually universal backing from nations around the world. But by balking, US administration after administration has prevented its passage.
With the Trump administration, more than non-support of the PAROS treaty is probable. A drive by the US to weaponize space appears in the offing.
The weaponization of space has long been sought by the US military. The US Air Force Space Command and US Space Command (now merged into the US Strategic Command) have repeatedly described space as the “ultimate high ground.” There has been continued development of space weapons.
Atomic physicist Edward Teller, the main figure in developing the hydrogen bomb and instrumental in founding Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, pitched to Ronald Reagan, when he was governor of California visiting the lab, a plan of orbiting hydrogen bombs which became the initial basis for Reagan’s “Star Wars.”
The bombs were to energize X-ray lasers. “As the bomb at the core of an X-ray battle station exploded, multiple beams would flash out to strike multiple targets before the entire station consumed itself in a ball of nuclear fire,” explained New York Times journalist William Broad in his book Star Warriors.
Teller’s orbiting H-bomb scheme, code-named Excalibur, was finally dropped, in part, according to Broad, because another Reagan advisor, Army Lt. General Daniel O. Graham, felt the US “public would never accept the placement of nuclear weapons in space.”
So there was a shift on “Star Wars to battle platforms having nuclear reactors or “super” plutonium-fueled radioisotope thermoelectric generators on board that would provide the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and also laser weapons.
What kind of space weaponry might scientists and the military sell Trump on?
“Under Trump, GOP to Give Space Weapons Close Look,” was the headline of an article last month in Roll Call, a reliable 61-year-old Washington-based media outlet. The article said “Trump’s thinking on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect’s other defense proposals . . . . But experts expect such programs to account for a significant share of what is likely to be a defense budget boost, potentially amounting to $500 billion or more in the coming decade.”
Intense support for the Republican president’s plans is anticipated from the GOP-dominated Congress. Roll Call noted that Representative Trent Franks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and an Arizona Republican, “said the GOP’s newly strengthened hand in Washington means a big payday is coming for programs aimed at developing weapons that can be deployed in space.”
It quoted Franks as saying: “It was a Democrat mindset that caused us to step back from space-based defense assets to ostensibly not ‘weaponize space,’ while our enemies proceeded to do just that, and now, we find ourselves in a grave deficit.”
As to what space weapons the Trump administration might be interested in, the website Blasting News in an article last month — headed “Donald Trump administration to develop space weapons” — pointed to what has been called “rods from God.” This piece opened with: “One of the significant changes that the incoming Trump administration is contemplating in defense is the development of space-based weapons.”
It said: “another approach the incoming administration will look at will be space-based weapons that could strike targets on Earth. One idea that has kicked around for decades is a system that would consist of a tungsten projectile and a navigation system. Upon command, these ‘rods from God’ as they are poetically called would re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and would strike a target, even one in a super-hardened underground banker, at 36,000 feet per second, obliterating it.”
As an op-ed piece by two “senior Trump policy advisors” titled “Donald Trump’s ‘peace through strength’ space vision” in Space News in October said, the Trump administration will “lead the way on emerging technologies that have the potential to revolutionize warfare . . .
Trump’s priorities for our military space program are clear: We must reduce our current vulnerabilities and assure that our military commands have the space tools they need for their missions.” The op-ed was by Robert Walker who as a congressman chaired the US House Science, Space and Technology Committee and is now chairman of the Commission on the Future of the US Aerospace Committee and Peter Navarro, a professor of business at the University of California-Irvine.
Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space says: “While the specifics are yet to be fully known about Trump and Republican Congress plans for space weapons, there are some very disturbing initial recommendations that have been surfacing.” For 25 years, the Maine-based network has been THE organization working internationally on these space issues.
Gagnon continued: “Suggestions to increase Pentagon spending to put ASAT (anti-satellite) weapons in space are probably the most disturbing because these systems indicate the mindset that a full-blown war in space is in the thinking of some now coming to power. This not only could lead to total global war but the devastation in space would seal the fate for future generations as massive fields of space debris would destroy any hopes for space travel or exploration.”
“Republican leaders are suggesting that expanding so-called ‘missile defense’ (MD) systems, currently being used to encircle Russia and China, are in order including a massive increase in Navy Aegis destroyers outfitted with MD interceptors. MD is a key element in Pentagon first-strike attack planning and would obviously lead to counter measures by Moscow and Beijing.”
“The world does not need a new arms race in space — especially when we should be using our resources to deal with the real problems of climate change and growing poverty due to increasing economic divide,” said Gagnon.
“The enormous cost of a Trump-led arms race in space is certainly causing the aerospace industry and their investors to salivate at the thought of increased profits. But the real issue to be considered is how a Trump administration would pay for what the Pentagon once described as the most expensive industrial project in human history. Trump has already declared that he intends to reduce taxes on corporations. Would this mean that Medicare and Social Security would be on the chopping block in order to pay for war in space?”
“Russia and China for years have gone to the UN pleading with the US to seriously enter negotiations for a treaty to ban weapons in space — the idea being to close the door to the barn before the horse gets out,” Gagnon said. “During Republican and Democrat administrations the US has blocked the development of such a forward-thinking treaty maintaining that there is ‘no problem.’ The military-industrial complex, which views space as a new profits arena, has ensured that the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space treaty negotiations were dead on arrival.”
“Russia and China will be left with only one option — they will have to respond in kind as the US attempts to ‘control and dominate space’ as is called for in the US Space Command’s planning document Vision for 2020.” Gagnon went on. “The world can’t afford a new arms race nor can the public allow the Trump administration to squander the national treasury on the foolish notion that the US will be the ‘Master of Space.'” [“Master of Space” is the motto of the 50th Space Wing of the US Air Force Space Command.] “The time to speak out against war in space is now — before more money is wasted and the shooting starts.”
I’ve been writing for many years about space weaponry (including in my book Weapons in Space) and on television (including writing and narrating the documentaries Nukes in Space: the Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens and also Star Wars Returns. I’ve given talks across the US and world.
In Weapons in Space, I relate a 1999 presentation I gave at the UN in Geneva. The next day, a vote was to be held there on the PAROS treaty. On my way to observe the vote, I saw a US diplomat who had been at my presentation and had not been happy with it. We approached each other and he said he would like to talk to me, anonymously.
He said, on the street in front of the UN buildings, that the US has trouble with its citizenry in fielding a large number of troops on the ground. But the US military believes “we can project power from space” and that was why the military was moving in this direction. I questioned him on whether, if the US moved ahead with weapons in space, other nations would meet the US kind igniting an arms race in space. He replied that the US military had done analyses and determined that China was “30 years behind” in competing with the US militarily in space and Russia “doesn’t have the money.”
Then he went to vote and I watched as again there was overwhelming international support for the PAROS treaty — but the US balked. And because a consensus was needed for the passage of the treaty, it was blocked once more.
And this was during the Clinton administration.
In 2001, with the election of George W. Bush, space weaponization was again on high-boil rather than the low-boil it was during the Clinton time.
That’s when I began work on the TV documentary Star Wars Returns (February 10, 2008), which can be viewed here.
And that year, too, I gave a presentation before members of the British Parliament in London. In it I outlined the just-released plan of the Space Commission led by then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. I noted how it asserted: “In the coming period the US will conduct operations to, from, in and through space in support of its national interests both on the earth and in space.” I pointed out how it urged the US president to “have the option to deploy weapons in space.”
I quoted from the US Space Command’s Vision for 2020 report’s speaking of “dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict.”
“What the US is up to,” I said, “will destabilize the world.”
I suggested the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, signed by nations all over the world — including the US — “be strengthened to ban all weapons in space.” It simply prohibits weapons of mass destruction. “Verification mechanisms should be added,” I said. “And space be kept for peace.”
The rapid boil that the push for space weaponry was on during the Bush administration returned to a low boil with Obama. However, from the outset, it wasn’t full opposition. Moments after Obama was sworn in in 2009, the White House website displayed a policy statement about the new administration seeking a “worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites.” This was widely interpreted as meaning an end to US efforts to place weapons in space. As Reuters reported: “President Barack Obama’s pledge to seek a worldwide ban on weapons in space marks a dramatic shift in US policy.”
But the statement was soon removed from the website and attributed to a junior staffer.
The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space will be holding an annual conference and protest between April 7thand 9th of 2017 in Huntsville, Alabama — an appropriate place. As the organization notes in its announcement, the US Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville “was the place where after World War II Nazi rocket scientists were brought by the US, using their technological expertise to help create the US space and weapons program.”
Professor Jack Manno of the State University of New York/Environmental Science and Forestry College, wrote in his book, Arming the Heavens: The Hidden Military Agenda for Space, 1945-1995: “Many of the early space war schemes were dreamt up by scientists working for the German military, scientists who brought their rockets and their ideas to America after the war.”
“It was like a professional sports draft,” relates Manno. Nearly 1,000 of these scientists were brought to the US, “many of whom later rose to positions of power in the US military, NASA, and the aerospace industry.” Among them were “Wernher von Braun and his V-2 colleagues” who began “working on rockets for the US Army,” and at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville “were given the task of producing an intermediate range ballistic range missile to carry battlefield atomic weapons up to 200 miles. The Germans produced a modified V-2 renamed the Redstone . . . . Huntsville became a major center of US space military activities.”
It still is.
Manno in his 1984 book wrote: “The real tragedy of an arms race in space will not be so much the weapons that evolve — they can hardly be worse than what we already have — but that by extending and accelerating the arms race into the twenty-first century the chance will have been lost to move toward a secure and peaceful world.
Even if militarists succeed in arming the heavens and gaining superiority over potential enemies, by the 21st century the technology of terrorism — chemical, bacteriological, genetic and psychological weapons and portable nuclear bombs — will prolong the anxiety of constant insecurity. Only by eliminating the sources of international tension through cooperation and common development can any kind of national security be achieved in the next century. Space, an intrinsically international environment, could provide the opportunity for the beginning of such development.”
For my Weapons in Space, Manno said in 2001 that “control over the earth” is what those who want to weaponize space seek. He said the Nazi scientists are an important “historical and technical link, and also an ideological link . . . . The aim is to . . .have the capacity to carry out global warfare, including weapons systems that reside in space.”
And now a Trump administration is ahead. And so is the likely arming of the heavens — unless we stop it, and we must. Connect with the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.
Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.
NASA Plans Moon Base to Control Pathway to Space
Bruce Gagnon / Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
(December 13, 2006) — At a time when the US faces historic debt, NASA announced last week its intention to establish a permanent base on the Moon by 2024.
In an interview on December 4 from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Scott Horowitz, NASA’s associate administrator for exploration said, “We’re going for a base on the Moon.”
The NASA plan is portrayed as the next phase of the space agency’s exploration agenda after space shuttles are retired in 2010. NASA’s ambitious schedule includes a 2009 test of one of the lunar spaceships, a 2014 manned test flight of the new Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) without a Moon landing, and a 2020 flight with a four-astronaut crew that would land on the Moon for a short visit. NASA envisions people living on the Moon for six-month intervals beginning in 2024.
The most likely destination for the permanent base is the Moon’s south pole because it’s sunlit for three-quarters of the time and has possible resources to mine in areas nearby.
Just to ensure that Congress will support funding for the Moon program, NASA is spreading the operation out to 13 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. Pratt & Whitney in West Palm Beach, Florida is now working on the engines for a lunar lander. Bechtel is interested in building structures on the Moon for NASA.
Last year, NASA said it would cost $104 billion just to return to the Moon for a first visit, but has declined to give estimates for the total cost of a permanent base. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that NASA’s procurement plan for the Moon-lander risks delivering a product that is late, over budget, and short on capability. This is what happened in the case of the International Space Station (ISS) that was originally supposed to cost taxpayers $10 billion; the price has grown to $100 billion and the station is still not complete.
With space-related spending a low priority for most governments around the world, NASA hopes that by calling the Moon base an international post it will be able to recruit partners to help convince their publics and politicians to buy into the new exploration plan. By inviting some “allies” to share in the creation of the Moon base, the US also hopes to absorb energies from countries like Japan that have announced plans of their own to establish Moon colonies.
The idea of a US base on the Moon is nothing new. In a secret study called “A US Army Study for the Establishment of a Lunar Outpost” published on June 9, 1959, the military maintained that:
“The lunar outpost is required to develop and protect potential United States interests on the Moon; to develop techniques in Moon-based surveillance of the Earth and space; in communications relay, and in operations on the surface of the Moon; to serve as a base for exploration of the Moon . . . Any military operations on the Moon will be difficult to counter by the enemy because of the difficulty of his reaching the Moon, if our forces are already present and have means of countering a landing or of neutralizing any hostile forces that have landed.”
In 1999, John Young, former Gemini, Apollo, and space shuttle astronaut, said that the Moon would also be useful for “planetary defense.”
Recognizing that “control” of the Moon could cause enormous conflict over time, the United Nations created the Moon Treaty in 1979. Much of the Moon Treaty reiterates earlier and internationally-accepted “space law,” particularly the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Article 11 of the treaty maintains, “The Moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind.”
The treaty also prohibits national appropriation, adding the words “by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” In other words, no military bases and no claims of ownership are allowed. The US never signed the Moon Treaty, and in fact it was only ratified by nine nations.
A 1989 study commissioned by Congress, called “Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years” reports that whoever holds the Moon militarily will control the “earth-Moon gravity well” and thus will essentially control the front gate to the Moon.
Former Nazi Major General Walter Dornberger, who was in charge of the entireV-1 and V-2 missile operation for Hitler’s Germany, testified before the US Congress in 1958 that America’s top space priority ought to be to “conquer, occupy, keep, and utilize space between the Earth and the Moon.” (Dornberger, along with 1,500 other top Nazi scientists, was smuggled into the US under Operation Paperclip after WW II. He became Vice-President at Bell Aerospace in New York.)
The Moon has one resource that is getting everyone’s attention. It is helium-3, and, say many space enthusiasts, could be used for fusion power back here on Earth. In a 1995 New York Times op-ed, science writer Lawrence Joseph asks the question: “Will the Moon become the Persian Gulf of the 21st Century?”
Joseph maintains that the most important technological question of our time will be “which nation will control nuclear fusion?” He ends his piece by saying, “If we ignore the potential of this remarkable fuel, the nation could slip behind the race for control of the global economy, and our destiny beyond.”
One person who is not ignoring helium-3 on the Moon is former astronaut and engineer Harrison Schmitt who has created a corporation to mine the Moon for it. Schmitt, though, is concerned about obstacles to his grand plans. In a 1998 piece for the industry newspaper Space News called “The Moon Treaty: Not a Wise Idea” he writes:
“The strong prohibition on ownership of ‘natural resources’ also causes worry . . . . The mandate of an international regime would complicate private commercial efforts . . . . The Moon Treaty is not needed to further the development and use of lunar resources for the benefit of humankind…including the extraction of lunar helium-3 for terrestrial fusion power.”
Some scientists predict that one metric ton of helium-3 could be worth over $3 billion. Researchers at the Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory have estimated that some one million tons of helium-3 could be obtained from the top layer of the Moon.
If all this turns out to be true and scientifically possible, imagine the gold rush to the Moon and the conflict that could follow in years to come. Who would police the Moon, especially when countries like the US refuse to sign the Moon Treaty that restricts “ownership claims”?
The US Space Command’s plan, Vision for 2020, says, “Historically, military forces have evolved to protect national interests and investments — both military and economic. During the rise of sea commerce, nations built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests . . . . Likewise, space forces will emerge to protect military and commercial national interests and investment in the space medium due to their increasing importance.”
I have always been convinced that, by creating offensive space weapons systems, one of the major jobs of the Space Command would be to control who can get on and off planet Earth, thus controlling the “shipping lanes” to the Moon and beyond.
There has long been a military connection to NASA’s Moon missions. In early 1994, NASA launched the Deep Space Program Science Experiment, the first of a series of Clementine technology demonstrations jointly sponsored with the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). The Pentagon announced that data acquired by the spacecraft indicated that there is ice in the bottom of a crater on the Moon, located on the Moon’s south pole — the same venue NASA now envisions as the site for the 2024 permanent base.
According to a Pentagon website:
“The principal objective of the lunar observatory mission though was to space qualify lightweight sensors and component technologies for the next generation of Department of Defense spacecraft [Star Wars]. The mission used the Moon, a near-Earth asteroid, and the spacecraft’s Interstage Adapter (ISA) as targets to demonstrate sensor performance. As a secondary mission, Clementine returns valuable data of interest to the international civilian scientific sector.”
In the end, the NASA plan to establish permanent bases on the Moon will help the military “control and dominate” access on and off our planet Earth and determine who will extract valuable resources from the Moon in the years ahead.
The taxpayers will be asked to pay the enormously expensive “research and development” costs of this program that in the end will profit the aerospace industry and those corporation like Bechtel that intend to build the bases and extract resources on the Moon.
NASA is not really looking for the “origins of life,” as it tells school children today. Instead, it is laying the groundwork for a new gold rush that will drain our national treasury and enrich the big corporations that now control our government. It is beyond time for the American people to wake up to the shell game underway.
Bruce K. Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.
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