President Bush in space
The Bush administration is eager to turn the final frontier into an American frontier, exploited for its economic, strategic and military benefit to the United States, policed by the United States and off limits to any nation Washington regards as hostile to its interests. Such is the intent of a revised U.S. national space policy quietly authorized by President George W. Bush. It is an aggressive and troubling shift from the official policy of the past decade, which sought to balance security concerns with the recognition that other nations also had rights in space.
"Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power," the policy document asserts, effectively arguing that there can be no limits on U.S. behaviour. "In order to increase knowledge, discovery, economic prosperity and to enhance the nationalsecurity, the United States must have robust, effective and efficient space capabilities."
The policy, part of which remains classified, does not call for the deployment of U.S. weapons systems in space, but it does rule out any arms-limitation treaties that could inhibit such a development. "Proposed arms control agreements or restrictions must not impair the rights of the United States to conduct research, development, testing and operations or other activities in space for U.S. national interests." As a defence policy analyst told The Washington Post, the new directive "kicks the door a little more open to a space-war fighting strategy."
As if that weren't worrisome enough, the administration seems eager to transport its world view into outer space as well. Nations that support U.S. space policy will be encouraged to participate in activities "that are of mutual benefit and that further the peaceful exploration and use of space, as well as to advance national security, homeland security and foreign policy objectives." But what about those countries, including traditional U.S. allies, that might object to turning space into a testing ground for U.S. military systems or a playground for U.S. business interests? Presumably, they will be left out in the cold. And it will be Washington that de-cides whether another country poses a threat to U.S. capabilities in space and hence its national interests. Under the new policy, the administration gives itself the right "to take those actions necessary to protect its space capabilities; respond to interference; and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests."
Washington is well positioned to enforce its will as the equivalent of a frontier marshal in space, where it is unchallenged, either commercially or militarily. Russia lacks the financial means to reopen the race to dominate space, and in any case has been co-operating closely with Washington on such projects as the international space station. China is still in the early stages of developing its ambitious program. Of the nearly $22.7-billion (U.S.) earmarked globally for military space programs this year, the United States accounts for $21.4-billion.
Obviously, if one country is going to treat space as its property to control and manage, the world is better off if that country is the United States. But that's not the point. National sovereignty should not be extended to space. The sheer might of the U.S. does not make its turn to unilateralism in space right. theglobeandmail.com