The Pentagon’s Path to War in Space Begins ‘Down Under’

September 2nd, 2021 - by Erik Paul / Pearls and Irritations

The United State’s Use of Australia in the Race to Weaponise Space

Erik Paul / Pearls and Irritations

AUSTRALIA (August 30, 2021) — The militarisation and weaponisation of space highlight Australia’s integration in the US military-industrial-surveillance complex and the continuation of the US war for planetary hegemony against China and Russia.

Australia’s Department of Defence (ADF) now designates space as a fully operational warfighting domain, organizing a new ADF space command. US foreign policy is to control space based on doctrines of preemptivity and space dominance vital for the security of the homeland and global economic and corporate interests. The weaponization of space is a key strategic policy of the US to retain the right of first use of nuclear weapons. It aims to achieve pre-emptive space dominance.

Most of Washington’s policymakers support US policies of global dominance. The foreign policy establishment names China’s rise to global economic and military power a threat to the country’s survival and hegemony. China is increasingly viewed as an enemy by the US and Australia. Both are engaged in actions to change the existing regime and balkanize the country to preserve Western geopolitical domination of world affairs.

The US has gained the high ground to command space, extending drone operations to the exosphere, integrating intelligence networks across multiple platforms to coordinate surveillance data from orbital satellites, spy planes and drones, says US historian Alfred McCoy. He describes it as a ‘triple canopy aerospace shield reaching from sky to space, secured by an armada of drones and lethal missiles or Argus-eyed sensors, linked to a resilient modular satellite system, monitored through an electronic matrix, and controlled by robotic systems’.

Soon, no target on the planet will be immune to US attack, striking without warning whenever and wherever a threat is perceived.

Historically, space, including airspace, cyberspace and outer space, represents the expansion of human activity in their interaction with the earth and biosphere. It frames the expansion of human activities in the control and colonisation of Earth’s terrestrial and outer space for exploitation by military and commercial interests. Planetary geopolitics is about the security of a nation-states system based on the militarisation of the earth’s commons, increasingly on the colonisation and weaponization of space.

China and Russia have the capability for space and cyberspace warfare, mastering the potential for armed conflict in space and challenging US dominion over space. They are developing missiles and electronic weapons to target satellites, a strategy to destroy communications navigational and early warning systems.

China has now completed its own satellite navigation system with the last of BeiDou’s 32 satellites in geostationary orbit. BeiDou’s achievement demonstrates China’s technological advances and economic power and the strategic challenge to the US doctrine of unilateral domination of space.

China has deployed anti-satellite weapons and electronic weapons from its counter space arsenal.  China is capable to combine cyberwar, space warfare, and supercomputing to cripple US military communications, blinding its strategic forces. The construction of new missile silos and nuclear submarines to hold solid-fuel ICBMs, possessing nuclear multiple warheads, changes China’s posture to one with the potential of strike capability. Recent development places China in a new phase of nuclear weaponization symptomatic of an arms race.

Australia’s Pine Gap, outside Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, is one of the largest intelligence collection facilities in the world. It is a weaponized facility involved in the control and delivery of weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and conventional. Operating since 1970, it is a US-controlled communication facility and an integral part of the US war-fighting machine, critical to the US ‘war on terror’ and ‘kill and capture’ operations.

Pine Gap’s principal purpose is said ‘to serve as the ground control station for geosynchronous signals intelligence (SIGINT) satellites developed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and probably remains the CIA’s most important technical intelligence collection station in the world’.

Pine Gap is part of the US missile defence and surveillance system, vital to drone operations and capable of geolocating cellphones throughout the world, identifying targets of interest. Australia is now a primary nuclear target in the event of war with Russia or China.

The commercialisation of space is the backbone of the global terrestrial economy and critical to both China’s and US economies in their global competition for economic and military power. US’s capacity to expand the economy is based on cycles of major federal defence expenditures, funding critical technologies and manufacturing capability to assure military domination and global commercial market and profit for the corporate sector.

The US globalisation project is challenged by China’s scientific and technological advances in mastering critical technologies and manufacturing capabilities. China’s BeiDou communication system has mastered the 5G generation of cellular networks, creating vast opportunities for business. It is ultra-fast, connecting networks of interdependent devices and technologies, from self-driving vehicles to smart grids for renewable energy, to AI-enabled robots on factory floors.

The BeiDou system is integrated in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) strategy and is an attractive alternative to the US model of development. China needs to link its rising industries to the vast natural resources of the Eurasian heartland. US economic warfare against China and the banning of China’s telcos Huawei and ZTE are clear signs that US policy risks fracturing the existing global economy, further advancing an arms race in space.

Geopolitics of peace is a universal struggle for survival with justice, requiring the democratisation of space. It argues the obsolescence of global security in national terms in the age of the Anthropocene, climate change, and threats of nuclear war. Real security can only be pursued in collaboration with China and Russia. Space is planet earth’s commons and the legacy of countless generations. It belongs to everyone.

The world must return to the ideals of the United Nations’1967 Outer Space Treaty and other instruments of international space law. These were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1963 in the belief that the exploration and use of outer space should be peaceful and for the betterment of mankind and for the benefits of all States.

Under international law, all nations should be barred from launching anti-satellite or space weapons. Missile defence systems should be banned worldwide as a destabilizing arms technology. All nations should be banned from adopting any doctrine advocating the unilateral right to use force against their own people and other countries.

US Space Command control center at Vandenburg AFB in California.

In the Age of the Anthropocene, the world is faced with a choice between internationalism or extinction. It is an epochal window of opportunity for the superpowers to negotiate a lasting world peace and to destroy their nuclear doomsday machines, avoiding the cataclysmic impact of climate change.

US’ vision of ‘full spectrum dominance’ is the ultimate imperialist project. The pursuit to master and weaponize space can only lead to world tyranny. The Australian government should declare its outright opposition to US unilateralist theories of planetary dominance and negotiate a multilateral arms agreement for the global control and disposal of all weapons of mass destruction.

Erik Paul is at the University of Sydney in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies. He is a researcher specializing in Australia’s relations with the Asia-Pacific and issues of regional and world peace. His latest book is Australia in the Expanding Global Crisis: The Geopolitics of Racism, published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.

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