George W. Bush wants to put man on the moon. Behind this celestial vision lies the dream of gaining full controll of space, something the US is close to achieving.

It’s disheartening to see how George Bush’s election-year vision of once again landing man on the moon is generally hailed as a thrilling ambition, a kind of rerun of the Apollo landing in 1969 that unified mankind around the image of a fragile earth.

Earth is not the same as it was 35 years ago. The political, military and technological influence of the United States has grown tremendously. And its main enemy, the Soviet Union, has ceased to exist.

To hail Bush’s grandiose declaration as an exciting scientific journey in the service of mankind is a grave mistake. Bush’s vision is far more than an innocent urge to satisfy an insatiable curiosity about the universe. It’s a tactical move to rekindle public interest in space and appropriate tax dollars at a time when the shuttle project is winding down and the US government is executing a unilateral strategy of controlling space.

The domination of space is already key to the reach and power of the US military. A 1996 Joint Strategy Review concluded that “space is already inextricably linked to military operations on land, on the sea, and in the air”. And a later report of the National Defense Panel stressed that ”unrestricted use of space has become a major strategic interest of the United States”.

Weather, communications, navigation and reconnaissance satellites are increasingly necessary to the military might of America. Global positioning satellites (GPS) and other space technology helped the United States fight its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. All GPS satellites are located within near-earth space, which covers the orbital distance from Earth to the moon.

Naturally, the US doesn’t want its enemies to gain similar powers, which is why its national administration is committed to expanding military activities in space. Recent briefings at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO, the intelligence agency that is responsible for US spy satellites) suggest work is underway to prevent other nations from operating in space (1),

A prototype of a military-space plane is expected by 2005. It’s designed to attack and destroy future satellites of enemies and rivals. The strategy would ensure that America's allies and enemies never gain access to the same space resources without Washington's permission (2).

Developing such a capacity is part of an overall space military program (3). Soon after he moved into the White House, president George W. Bush said he wanted to accelerate work on the Strategic Defense Initiative originally launched by president Ronald Reagan. In choosing Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, he chose the 'leading proponent not only of national missile defenses, but also of US efforts to take control of space', according to the Washington Post.

"The threat to the U.S. and its allies in and from space does not command the attention it merits from the departments and agencies of the U.S. government charged with national security responsibilities," a congressionally chartered task force headed by Rumsfeld reported ten days before Bush and he took office in 2001 (4). Rumsfeld also warned of the danger of a "Space Pearl Harbor" if America did not take action to protect itself.

Bush’s timeplan for a permanent base on the moon by 2020, coincides with Vision for 2020, a report from US Space Command, which 'coordinates the use of Army, Naval and Air Force Space Forces' and was set up in 1985, its website explains, to 'help institutionalize the use of space'.

The cover of Vision for 2020, issued in 1996, shows a space-based laser weapon zapping a target below. The report proclaims: 'US Space Command -- dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment.'

Vision for 2020 compares the US effort to control space and the Earth below to how centuries ago 'nations built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests.' Vision for 2020 also stresses the global economy. 'The globalisation of the world economy will also continue, with a widening between 'haves' and 'have-nots',' says the US Space Command ominously.

Paul Wolfowitz, a key player in designing the US strategy of preemptive war, the rationale for attacking Iraq, is the co-author of a frightening document titled ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses’ (5) . It notes the unique power position the U.S. holds and outlines a military strategy to defend the nation’s commercial interests worldwide.

The document notes that ‘space commerce is a growing part of the global economy’ and that many of the commercial space systems have direct military applications. The authors see a need “to secure and protect these space assets”; the U.S. ”must also have the capability to deny America's adversaries the use of commercial space platforms for military purposes in times of crises and conflicts. Indeed, space is likely to become the new ’international commons,’ where commercial and security interests are intertwined and related.”

Almanac 2000, an Air Force Space Command report declares: 'The future of the Air Force is space.' 'Into the 21st Century,' it says, the US Air Force needs to be: 'Globally dominant -- Tomorrow's Air Force will likely dominate the air and space around the world’.

An Air Force Space Command motto is 'Master of Space'. It appears as a uniform patch and is featured in jumbo letters over the entrance of a major Space Command element, the 50th Space Wing in Colorado. The Air Force Space Command Strategic Master Plan details how the unit is developing exotic new weapons, nuclear warheads and spacecraft to allow the US to hit any target on earth within seconds (6). According to James Roche, the US Air Force Secretary, America's allies would have "no veto power” over projects designed to achieve American military control of space.

The militaristic ambitions of the U.S. to control space violate the core of the United Nation’s Outer Space Treaty (OST), which became effective in 1967. Now ratified by most nations, it is the basic international law on areas beyond our planet. The treaty seeks to prevent war from space and states that 'outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation’.

The so called Moon Agreement from 1979 stresses that space is to be used 'for peaceful purposes' and that 'the moon and its natural resources' are 'the common heritage of mankind'. This has not proven a popular stance: only 14 nations have signed on to the Moon Agreement.

The US is not among them. Why? Because the moon symbolizes the high ground in the battle to control space.

1 Now the US wants control of space, Julian Coman, The Telegraph, 08/06/2003
2 Ibid.
3 Disgrace into space, Karl Grossman, The Ecologist, March, 2001
4 U.S. eyes space as possible battleground, Jim Wolf, Reuters, Jan. 18 2004
5 Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century, A report of The Project for a New American Century, Barnet, et. al. September 2000
6 Revealed: US plan to 'own' space, Neil Mackay, Sunday Herald, 22 June 2003

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