Okay, so that's not exactly how the military recruiters are signing up the new generation of pilots to control drones (in Afghanistan) from exotic places like Creech Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. But it isn't all that far from the truth. The battlefield of the future is here today, and relies heavily on space - picture a swath of military satellites orbiting the Earth - to do everything from communications and targeting to controlling the remote controlled aircraft known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones. What is really scary about drones is we are setting the stage for fighting wars quite literally from halfway around the globe. Will this make it easier for governments (like the U.S.) to start and continue wars? If Iraq and Afghanistan are examples, then we had better watch out! This is certainly a Pandora's Box, the likes of which we have never before seen.
Space is, as Captain Kirk of Star Trek called it, the final frontier. And if the Pentagon has anything to say about it, that frontier will belong solely to the United States, lock, stock and satellites. The current U.S. National Space Policy, an extension of the policy started by President Clinton in 1996 and expanded by the Bush Administration, says that, "“In this new century, those who effectively utilize space will enjoy added prosperity and security and will hold a substantial advantage over those who do not. Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power.”
That pretty much sets the tone, doesn't it??? While the National Space Policy does not explicitly endorse placing weapons in space or fighting in, through or from space, the U.S. is definitely using space (via satellites) to control drones as well as locate and destroy targets. The stage is being set, and it is creating a veritable feeding frenzy among defense contractors such as General Atomics, which can't create new ideas for drones fast enough to keep up with the Pentagon's destructive desires. This is, as with everything else "defensive", a full employment policy for defense contractors.
The old notion that space would be an arena for international cooperation ( lest we forget the token International Space Station) is being quickly replaced by a new era of competition (thanks to U.S. military efforts), and it is likely to become something rivaling the Cold War should we not put on the brakes right now. The Obama administration must work to negotiate a United Nations treaty to prevent an arms race in space.
This week is the International Week of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space. Learn more about keeping space for peace at the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. You can also learn more at Reaching Critical Will's Outer Space Page and at the PAROS Working Group.
Bruce Gagnon at the Global Network has a sample letter to Congress calling on them to urge President Obama to negotiate a new space treaty to prevent an arms race in space. Click here to find Congressional contact information. Join me in asking Congress to Keep Space for Peace.