International House of Dan: President Excited About "Episode III"

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

President Excited About "Episode III"

So to change gears from the last post, the Air Force is asking for permission to put weapons in space. To say that this is a monumentally idiotic idea would be an understatement of equally monumental proportions.

I can see no way, whatsoever that anything that could remotely be a good thing could ever, ever even remotely begin to come out of this. Security? No, contrary to Republican claims America is not under a constant state of attack by new and unseen enemies everywhere. This is not to say that we are universally loved, but over the history of our nation the times when our interests have been attacked are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the times during which they haven't. In fact one need only look at the fact that the WMD we so fear, nuclear and biological weapons, have been largely developed by us, presumably to enhance our own security. On what basis could we expect that this time will be different? Will we treat countries' space programs the same way we treat their nuclear programs? Not so simple, because I suspect that space technology does not require finite materials that we can track, I don't think satellite photos will be able to differentiate military and civilian space programs the way they do nuclear programs.

There is also little reason to expect that we would be able to retain a military monopoly on space, especially in light of the recent advent of privately funded space exploration. We are also not the only member of the nuclear club with satellite launching capabilities, just a few weeks ago India launched a satellite. How far behind is Pakistan? North Korea? Israel? Why on earth would we possibly want to invite this kind of nuclear space race? For what it's worth, if Mr. Bush is reading this: tell the Air Force "no", real explosions in space are not like in the movies Mr. President.

This of course says nothing of the legal implications of arming space. The Times article is not entirely correct in stating that there is no legal barrier to the ambitions of the USAF. The U.S. is actually a party to several treaties limiting the arming of space. The Limited Test Ban Treaty(1963) prevents nuclear tests or explosions in space, and the Outer Space Treaty (1967) preserves the peaceful exploration of space for all mankind. I wonder if there are also Constitutional implications, would the deployment of troops to space require Congressional approval or are they Executive actions? Surely, this is one cookie that the founders didn't think of.

Finally, there are fiscal and policy implications to the arming of space. It is obscene to cut funding for education and social services while devoting an ever-growing fortune to our existing military adventures, let alone to this. Additionally, I'm not even sure that we have the know-how to do what the Air Force wants. "After spending 22 years and nearly $100 billion, Pentagon officials say they cannot reliably detect and destroy a threat today." So if the Pentagon went through all this and failed, and now the Air Force takes a crack at it and succeeds, then what does it say about our armed forces that the Air Force didn't chip in a little earlier? The only possible use I can see for this is to stop gays from getting married in space after the administration forces every country in the world to accept Jesus and ban gay marriage. Thousands of voters in the South are now in favor of it...


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