And now comes Walter Pincus of the Washington Post to tell us
While wrestling with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon is preparing weapons to fight the next battle from space, according to information in the 621-page, House-Senate conference report on the fiscal 2008 defense appropriations bill.621 pages, half a War and Peace devoted to nothing more than the money for war. Tolstoy would have mocked this un-heroic piece of fiction all dressed up as non-fiction.
The $459 billion bill, which awaits President Bush's signature, provides $100 million for a new "prompt global strike" program that could deliver a conventional, precision-guided warhead anywhere in the world within two hours. It takes funds away from development of a conventional warhead for the Navy's submarine-launched Trident Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and from an Air Force plan for the Common Aero Vehicle.
Anyway, the Pentagon is no wimp organization, be assured of that. Nor are they confused about whether Boeing and Lockheed butter their bread from decade to decadence. Rumsfeld may be gone, but his thirst for space-based warfare permeates the corridors where he once walked. Or did he float? The man made no small plans. Small plans have no magic to stir men’s souls, nor energize the various defense industries Rummy had twice bowed down before as Secretary of defense.
Wrap your mind around ‘deliver a conventional, precision-guided warhead anywhere in the world within two hours’ if you inhabit a portion of the earth that is (was) safely months away by traditional means of warfare. If you are Iranian, Russian or Chinese, just ponder that intention by America as it currently shows its willingness to engage in pre-emptive warfare. See how well you sleep.
The new program, dubbed Falcon, for "Force Application and Launch from CONUS (continental United States)," centers on a small-launch-vehicle concept of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The agency describes Falcon as a "a reusable Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV) capable of delivering 12,000 pounds of payload at a distance of 9,000 nautical miles from [the continental United States] in less than two hours."Six tons, which means it is multiple nuclear-warhead capable. If you stand back a moment from America’s view of itself as always and faithfully defending the freedoms of others, you reach the unavoidable conclusion that any major power in the world permitting such an unfettered command of space has sacrificed its sovereignty.
Hypersonic speed is far greater than the speed of sound. The reusable vehicle being contemplated would "provide the country with significant capability to conduct responsive missions with quick turn-around sortie rates while providing aircraft-like operability and mission-recall capability," according to DARPA.“Responsive mission” is not defined. Reactive might be close, but it would take a lot of faith if you didn’t happen to actually be American and had watched George Bush declare a doctrine of pre-emptive war, the first such doctrine ever to come out of the land of the free and home of the brave.
The vehicle would be launched into space on a rocket, fly on its own to a target, deliver its payload and return to Earth. In the short term, a small launch rocket is being developed as part of Falcon. It eventually would be able to boost the hypersonic vehicle into space. But in the interim, it will be used to launch small satellites within 48 hours' notice at a cost of less than $5 million a shot.
To those blinking satellites in future night skies, we smilingly assure those under them not to worry, it’s only U.S. Delivering a payload, a mental image closer to UPS dropping off spare parts than nuclear devastation.
Conferees added $100 million above the Bush administration's request for nearly $200 million to accelerate "space situational awareness." That is code for protecting U.S. satellites in space and being able to attack the enemy's satellites.If enhancing capabilities is critical for America, then just how critical does it become to Russia and China to keep up with us and overcome that advantage? Sort of brings a whole new meaning to ‘we shall overcome.”
"Enhancing these capabilities is critical, particularly following the Chinese anti-satellite-weapons demonstration last January," the conferees wrote in their report. They were referring to a Jan. 11 incident in which a Chinese guided missile destroyed an aging weather satellite in orbit.
The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.Well, it wasn’t even a foot-race, Martin. We have been under the thrall of misguided men for half a century or more and it continues lately with increased vigor. For those determined to preach the falsehood of Ronald Reagan defeating communism, get over it. The wheels came off of communism all by themselves because it was a system that could not sustain itself. Reagan merely happened to be president when it all came down.
-Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
Another $18 million would go for research into a second-generation counter-satellite-communications system; it would explore and develop capabilities "to provide disruption of satellite communications signals in response to U.S. Strategic Command requirements," according to the Pentagon congressional presentation. The first-generation system is already operational, and an upgrade of those capabilities is in production.How threatened might I feel, as an American, were either China or Russia to declare they now had a disruption capability covering all our satellite transmission and had upgrades in production? Satellite transmission means all Internet, all e-mail, all airline and shipping navigation, virtually everything military, plus a myriad of other things that include the ‘trip-finder’ on the family Buick.
Poof! “Sorry ‘bout that, Beijing.” George Bush now has his finger on an entirely different button, Vladimir. “You OK with everything going dark over there, should Cheney whisper in his ear?”
The point of all this is not to criticize U.S. defense policy, although there is much to criticize. The point is to look at our various friends who may stay friends and friends who may turn into adversaries from their point of view.
We get impatient with foreigners who don’t understand our good intentions. Condi Rice gets absolutely snarly with Putin about building a radar base in the Czech Republic and missile defense silos in Poland—yet Czechs and Poles are as close to him as Mexicans and Canadians to us. How would Condi feel about Russian missiles and radar in Toronto?
What would be her (or our) reaction if the Russian Foreign Minister got snippy with her about it?
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