The 'Bush Doctrine' and Weapons in Space

Chronique de Rodrigue Tremblay

"The dangerous patriot: "The one who drifts into chauvinism and exhibits blind enthusiasm for military actions. He is a defender of militarism and its ideals of war and glory. Chauvinism is a proud and bellicose form of patriotism . . . which identifies numerous enemies who can only be dealt with through military power and which equates the national honor with military victory."

James A. Donovan, Colonel, US Marine Corps

"Where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control."

Lord Acton (1834-1902)

"If you want war, nourish a doctrine. Doctrines are the most frightful tyrants to which men ever are subject... "

William Graham Sumner

On September 20, 2002, George W. Bush, in conformity with the path that Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Rice and Co. had traced for him, adopted a hegemonic foreign policy and issued the famous hubristic "Bush Doctrine". His then Security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and her assistant, Philip D. Zelikow, drafted much of the 2002 report titled “The National Security Strategy of the United States”, which has come to be known as the "Bush Doctrine" of pre-emptive wars and of American assertive military hegemony around the world.

Eight months before, in his January 29, 2002 first State of the Union Address, Bush, inspired by his neocon and theologian speech writers, had singled out three disparate countries as belonging to an "axis of evil" (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea), even though two of these countries had been at war at each other for years (Iraq and Iran) and the third (North Korea) had no visible political ties to the first two. Bush also expressed his intention that the United States control both the Earth and Outer Space, no matter what the other 191 countries of the world think and no matter what international law and international treaties call for.

On Earth, the neocon Bush-Cheney administration's goal was to invest so much in military gear, and to take military actions if necessary, that no other country would ever challenge its status as the world's sole military superpower.
The intention was to establish a military New American Empire for the 21st Century, along the lines of the British Empire in the 19th Century.

In Space, the administration asserted the "far out" claim that the United States has the right to control Outer Space and to deny access to space to any country not in sync with U.S. interests. Bush's then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in the so-called report on "Counterspace Operations Doctrine" (2004), even stated that the U.S. should not refrain from using such tactics as "cover, concealment, and deception" and "satellite jamming" to control Outer Space. —The chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, General Peter Pace, said that (Donald) Rumsfeld must truly be 'inspired by God!' This hairy policy was revisited and signed into law by President George W. Bush, on October 18, 2006, thus initiating a new and dangerous Space arms race.

The U.S. already has a 'Air Force Space Command', which was created on September 1, 1982, by the Reagan administration. But to indicate that nothing is off-limits, the U.S. Air Force also announced, on November 2, 2006, that it was setting up what could become a new four-star command to fight in cyberspace, where officials say the United States has already come under attack from China, among others. In the words of Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, "The aim is to develop a major command that stands alongside Air Force Space Command and Air Combat Command as the provider of forces that the President, combatant commanders and the American people can rely on for preserving the freedom of access and commerce, in air, space and now cyberspace."

However, the goal of preserving free access to Space and cyberspace is paramount. Worldwide, most people believe that Space should not be militarized. The underlying principle here is that Space, Outer Space and celestial resources, such as the Moon or the planets, are the common heritage of humanity as a whole and should not be appropriated by any one country or any nation in particular, through military means or otherwise. Besides, any attempt by one nation to militarize Space, and even to take control of cyberspace, would be in violation of the spirit of the 1967 “Outer Space Treaty” (OST). This fundamental treaty has been signed by 125 countries and ratified by 98, and it solemnly bars participating nations from placing nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction in orbit of Earth, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or to otherwise station them in Outer Space.

That is why the world entered into a new era when China, on January 11 (2007), launched a missile strike against one of its old orbiting weather satellites, 800 kilometers above Earth. The Chinese government also announced that the deployment of its anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon was a move to demonstrate the danger of having weapons in Space, and that its objective was to encourage the Bush-Cheney administration to enter into talks aiming at abolishing weapons in Space. Unfortunately, the current administreation had already announced that it opposes the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that would seek to prohibit or limit access to, or use of, Space. —It acts like it would welcome a new arms race in Space and possibly would like to start a new 'Cold War' with China and Russia.

The issue of weapons in Space is not new. In 1981, the old Soviet Union developed an ASAT system consisting of a bomb-carrying satellite, which was positioned next to a target satellite to be destroyed. During the same period, the United States developed an ASAT system, whereby an F-15 fighter would carry a two-stage missile to a high altitude and let the missile tracking system guide it to a target missile set to be destroyed. Since Congress voted a moratorium on the development of ASAT systems, in 1985, the United States has not tested any new ASAT system.

However, the Chinese demonstration and the Bush-Cheney avowed policy of taking military control of Space indicate that urgent action is required on this issue, if Space is to be kept demilitarized. A U.N. agency tailored along the International Atomic Energy Agency should have the responsibility to inspect any rocket launch to make sure that it does not carry armaments into Space. That may be the only way to make sure that no national government place armaments into Space.

Therefore, it would seem appropriate that the United Nations, under its new leadership, convene an international conference and adopt necessary measures to reinforce the Outer Space Treaty and make sure that no single nation-state can dominate Space or could ever claim that Space belongs to it.


Version originale
Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at
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