Star Wars IV

-

intel satellite the washington note.jpg
Shooting down a spy satellite whose orbit is decaying is either an exercise in super power vanity or an action designed to escalate the further militarization of space.
The Chinese shot down a satellite of their own last year and essentially took the first shot of this kind to break out of informal norms that powers would not formally flex muscles that showed their ability to potentially blind the space-based intel machinery of their rivals.
Even if those who agitated for this “shot” were not thinking in such GeoStratSpace terms and wanted to try and destroy the satellite just because they think they can, the “bad politics” as my colleague Jeffrey Lewis (aka ArmsControlWonk) of this are quite substantial.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

28 comments on “Star Wars IV

  1. Tom Wright says:

    What I find really annoying is the cheap-trick aspect of this. If it is a KH-11 it is essentially a Hubble telescope, and gets serviced regularly by shuttle flights. Likely its steering gyroscopes have failed. Since it is set for service, it could accept a docked tug-rocket. This would direct it to a controlled de-orbit.
    Given the very large black budget and fairly high reliability of inter-stage rockets this satellite could have been brought down in complete control.

    Reply

  2. TonyForesta says:

    Given the sad reality that Iraq (“…boils down to the 20 words that the former US Federal Bank chief Alan Greenspan wrote towards the end of his memoir, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil.”
    America needs the untapped reserves the oil oligarchs hope and pray can be marauded – I mean acquired from Iraq. The fascists in the Bush government are bent on achieving this ignoble design through the terrible swift sword of America’s hypersuperior military.
    The Chinese already proved they can knock out a satelite from earth, it has been years since either Russia or America executed such a strike, and this little episode, is another example of the fascists flexing their hypersupremist, – I mean hypersuperior muscles to terrorize the rest of the world into submitting to, or daring to conflict with the fascists in the Bush government and their malevolent PNAC Pax Americana pipedreams.
    The fascists want and are perpetuating, prosecuting, and proselytizing neverendingwar because they singularly and exclusively profit wantonly from the execution of neverendingwar, so, – hi ho, hi ho it’s off to neverendingwar we go. Ashes ashes, all fall down.
    “Deliver us from evil!”

    Reply

  3. ShineTheLight says:

    I’m willing to give a nod to all this sensible, well-thought-out stuff, and then look out into the farthest reaches of left field for something so absurd only a desperate cabal would try to pull it off :
    Get the big laser guns into space for the Fake Alien Invasion Werner Von Braun warned us about.

    Reply

  4. erichwwk says:

    Sdemetri: You assume correctly.
    Nuclear primacy, on which US hegemony has been based since WWII, is now seen as impotent when counter forces disperse geographically. Nukes have a bit too much collateral damage, even for the ueberhawks, against a few terrorists in downtown London or Madrid. Nuclear weapons programs are alive today solely on their ability to finance politicians, and keep the concept and inertia of mega technical defense weapons infrastructure alive. So we go to mega laser weapons in space, powered by orbiting nuclear power stations, with perceived smaller collateral damage. While there was some attempt to disguise this effort, a recent symposium in Albuquerque, NM brought together the major players in this new “resource procurement by force” scenario. But frankly, those who follow US military strategy are quite aware that USAF letterhead’s often proclaim this world dominance quite openly. The ABQ event was thinly veiled primary to avert blatant public criticism (and awareness) that DOD is now the major financier of our higher educational system.
    http://www.unm.edu/~ISNPS/staifhome.html
    John H wonders why M K Bhadrakamar’s reporting is being ignored in the US press. The Russians John Pilger took on US tour during the cold war wondered the same thing:
    “During the Cold War, a group of Russian journalists toured the United States.
    On the final day of their visit, they were asked by their hosts for their impressions.
    “I have to tell you,’ said their spokesman, ‘that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers and watching TV, that all the opinions on all the vital issues were by and large, the same. To get that result in our country, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here, you don’t have that. What’s the secret?
    How do you do it?” — John Pilger Address at Columbia University on 14 April 2006:
    Dan Kervick asks:
    “Couldn’t this just be for domestic purposes – to boost support for the half a billion dollar budget increase in missile defense by impressing the public with a “peaceful use” for such systems?”
    Not even close. First of all, such microscopic amounts (out of a $1.2T annual Defense/Offense Budget) are far too minuscule to bother about, and secondly, the technologies involved in intercepting a ballistic missile are far too different. Just as in the old days, he who had the best view of the battle field (hilltop, airplane, satellite) has a tremendous tactical advantage, especially if weapons capable of engaging can be deployed from there). This is all about world dominance and control, on the international stage as the domestic stage has been used as a laboratory to determine the extent to which a population can be bamboozled.
    Ohiodem1 gets the larger agenda pretty much right, but mistakenly attributes it to the “NEOCONS”. This has been mainstream US strategy, going all the way back to “manifest destiny”. It did take a big jump forward with the building of the atomic bomb, which its proponents saw as the vehicle for world dominance during WWII. Early adherents were mostly Democrats, switching parties with the opportunity the fall of Nixon, and insertion of Gerald Ford gave them. To see this as a temporary aberration, caused by a “few bad apples” is to significantly miss the big picture.
    Donsblog: It’s BOTH the Russians and Chinese. The Indians are temporarily on our side, which is why we are trying to help them build more nuclear weapons, and condone giving them fissionable material, despite India’s not signing the NPT.

    Reply

  5. David Irwin says:

    Correcting a bad link on previous post.

    Reply

  6. David Irwin says:

    Steve,
    It seems obvious to me that shooting down the satellite is to legitimize the arms buildup in space.

    Reply

  7. theophilus says:

    Obviously, this shoot-down is very destabilizing, vis-a-vis the future circumstance of space-based weaponry. It’s almost as if the Bush folks are determined to lay diplomatic munitions that any future administration will have great difficulty defusing. What’s particularly suspicious is that this effort is announced just days after the Chinese & Russian foreign ministers introduced proposals for a treaty to limit space-based weaponry; this confrontational and unfortunate posturing appears to have the fingerprints of Dick Cheney et al written all over it.

    Reply

  8. theophilus says:

    Obviously, this shoot-down is very destabilizing, vis-a-vis the future circumstance of space-based weaponry. It’s almost as if the Bush folks are determined to lay diplomatic munitions that any future administration will have great difficulty defusing. What’s particularly suspicious is that this effort is announced just days after the Chinese & Russian foreign ministers introduced proposals for a treaty to limit space-based weaponry; this confrontational and unfortunate posturing appears to have the fingerprints of Dick Cheney et al written all over it.

    Reply

  9. susan says:

    Maybe the Chinese will shoot it down first…in the interests of public safety, of course.

    Reply

  10. DonsBlog says:

    To me it’s a bit of a miracle they can keep these things going at all. I understand the impact of space radiation on the on-board electronics.
    I think it’s a real enough situation, the question is why they’re making such a big deal out of being able to take it out.
    The Chinese are going to do what they’re going to do. They always have, they always will. No matter what the US does they’ll stay on track.
    It would be the Russians they’d most likely try to influence. It’s the Russians that have been most aggressive lately, though with their new found oil wealth I would doubt they would want to put their fortunes at risk.
    Perhaps just a last hurrah for the Republican party, who’s at it’s weakest in a very long time.
    That, of course, would be in world that made sense.

    Reply

  11. tomj says:

    Heck, maybe they launched the damn thing just so they could shoot it down. Why would you launch a spy satellite and then tell everyone it failed?

    Reply

  12. SW says:

    They can’t do it.

    Reply

  13. SW says:

    They can’t do it.

    Reply

  14. JohnH says:

    Kathleen–The discussion of the oil law was put into public discussion in Bush’s State of the Union message last year. It was one of the benchmarks, and treated in the media largely as “just another benchmark,” not particularly worthy of our notice. It has been almost impossible to get any sense of the content of the oil law, which was mostly characterized as “revenue sharing” among Iraqis, again not of particular interest. It finally got a little attention last June-August, when it was clear that the Iraqis were not going to meet Bush’s benchmarks, and the administration was clearly most displeased about the lack of progress on the oil law. Now the new oil law seems to have been largely abandoned, at least temporarily, in favor of existing law, although rumors have surfaced that Big Oil was offering to pay Iraqi legislators $5 million each to get the deal done, so that oil companies could essentially own the oil on exceedingly favorable terms under Production Sharing Agreements. Bush’s attempt to get an agreement with Al-Maliki permitting an eternal US military presence has also surfaced in the media.
    Now comes the news that Iraq’s oil minister, “Shahristani is visibly getting ready to negotiate the contracts for Iraq’s “super giants”. In the idiom of Big Oil, “super giants” are fields with at least five billion barrels of oil in reserve.”
    Bush wants to have the deal done before he leaves office to finalize “facts on the ground,” tie the hands of a new administration and preclude recourse for Iraqis. Exactly what is the US signing up to? Have Iraqis been beaten down to the point that they’ll finally allow their patrimony to be looted? How long will it be before they rebel again? Does anybody care? Steve?
    This information is available to those who dig. It is not discussed openly and widely. Whatever commitments Bush makes for eternal military engagement is barely being discussed.

    Reply

  15. Ohiodem1 says:

    The full militarization of space is high on the list of items on the neocon agenda. See “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”, published in 2000 by the Project for the New American Century.
    http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf
    The section titled “Space and Cyberspace” begins on page 57. In reference to the writer above who asked if this wasn’t a violation of the ABM, well it is, but I believe the Bush adminstration quit the ABM treaty several years ago. I read a good account of in in Jimmy Carter’s book “Our Threatened Values”. BTW, the book also castigates John Bolton for his non-diplomatic diplomacy, and his hostility to the ABM.
    The neocon attitude toward missile defenses starts on page 51 of the same document. The authors express that the Clinton administration’s adherence to the ABM frustrated the developemnt of useful ballistic missile defenses. Well, it was a treaty, wasn’t it? Negotiated by the Nixon administration in 1972.
    This 90 page document is a must-read for anyone who wants to know what the neocon military agenda really is. So much of it has come true.
    I don’t buy the hydrazine argument for even a second. Hundreds,if not thousands of satellited have re-entered the atmosphere, and no one wanted to shoot down any of them. No, this is just another element of the neocon desire to keep their golden egg-laying goose of Star Wars fed and happy. The document also pines for the cancelled “Brilliant Pebbles” space based warfare program that was killed in 1993 by the Clinton administration.
    This is a last gasp effort to revive in the public’s mind the “need” for multi-billion dollar AMM’s of virtually no utility and no successful tests after hundreds of billions of development effort, the demise of the hostile threat from the Soviet Union, and now stirring up fear and loathing of Iran, as a means to justify sending even more billions down that rathole.
    I could write for hours on this topic, but I am done for now.

    Reply

  16. Kathleen says:

    JohnH.. early on there was a lot of discussion and reporting on the oil law, the first “benchmark” we set for the newly elected Iraqi Parliament, but as they failed to pay attention and do our bidding, discussion of the oil law went on the back burner. Maybe now that the Iraqi Parliament is getting a thing or two done, we’re back to pushing it… perhaps falsely promising to leave, if only they pass the law we want. The MSM, flunks on so many scores. Thank heaven for the international press and thank you for the link. Good to have that under the light again.

    Reply

  17. Grotius says:

    Sounds like a violation of international human rights law. What gives these people the idea that they have the right to dump toxic particles from outer space onto the heads, into the air and into the soil of the people of Chile, Benin, Nepal or wherever on this globe this stuff lands?

    Reply

  18. charlie says:

    Several suspicious things here:
    1. How big is this bird? I’ve seen reports that it just weights 5000 pounds. A kh-11 style bird weights 25,000 pounds (a hubble turned to earth). You can’t shrink glass.
    2. Why did we lose control of the satellite. We’ve lost satellites due to rocket failure, but nothing like this. the fact we lost control the same month the Chinese did the ASAT test is suspicious.
    3. How the hell is a ABM rocket going to take this out? A kh-11 again is somewhere around 300-800 km up in space. What’s the range of a ABM rocket — 100 miles? And what is the altitude — maybe 20-30 miles up?
    A few thoughts:
    1. This is a dead bird but up to confuse our enemeies and now being tested for an ASAT weapon.
    2. Unscheduled and unpublicized ABM test.
    3. Given the small size, perhaps the satellite isn’t really going down. Perhaps it is a next generation bird — with stealth — and we are going to claim it died yet keep using it. I have no idea how you come up with the radar evidence – but I don’t think the Chinese have much ability to traack that stuff over the middle of the Pacific.

    Reply

  19. JohnH says:

    Kathleen, I looked back at 3 months of posts on this site. Iraq came up occasionally and then only tangentially. And this site is supposedly concerned with serious foreign policy issues!!! Well, for Americans, Iraq is the top foreign policy issue. As well it should be–we’re spending a hundred billion dollars per year plus several hundred billion more without any credible threat in sight. Not to mention destroying the lives of many of young and of millions of Iraqis.
    So why the the blackout? It’s astounding, simply astounding. But it’s not just here. It’s everywhere in the media. Yes, there are daily reports of casualties, usually buried deep inside newspapers, but there is simply no public discussion of goals, strategies and policy. The Washington elites have simply decided that THE PUBLIC SHALL NOT HAVE BE INFORMED OR HAVE A VOICE in the most important foreign policy decisions of our time. Public discussion has simply been eliminated. And everyone that matters–elected officials, think tanks, and the media–simply go along like the Good Germans they mimic!
    Executives at Big Oil and in the defense industry must be wallowing in their good fortune!

    Reply

  20. linda says:

    monkeyboy controls space:
    Bush issues doctrine for US control of spaceSuzanne Goldenberg in Washington
    The Guardian, Thursday October 19 2006 Article history ·
    George Bush has staked out a bold claim to the final frontier, asserting vigorously America’s right to deny access to space to any adversary hostile to US interests, it emerged yesterday.
    In a muscular overhaul of policy, the US president outlines the importance of space to the national interest, saying its domination is as crucial to America’s defences as air or sea power.
    The order also opposes the establishment of arms control treaties that would restrict US access to space, or set limits on its use of space. It calls for the development of space capabilities to support US intelligence and defence initiatives.
    The document, first reported in yesterday’s Washington Post, amounted to the first overhaul of US space policy in nearly a decade, but it comes two years after the publication of an air force doctrine on protecting US satellites and spacecraft. The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has also favoured the development of systems to protect satellites and space stations.
    “The United States will preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space; dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so; take actions necessary to protect its space capabilities; respond to interference; and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests,” the strategy says.

    Reply

  21. Kathleen says:

    Not thinking in GeoStratSpace terms???? Pleeeeeze.
    JohnH…, does anyone really need the media to come to this conclusion? Surely it was plain as the nose on Pinocchio’s face that we wouldn’t leave until they passed our kind of oil law… and not even then, because who will guard and commandeer the oil fields? What other reason was there to reject the Iraqi Proposed Peace Plan, if not the oil law?
    Ummmmmm, well maybe fomenting war with Iran and stealing their oil, toooooo?..hell, why not while we’re in the hood…

    Reply

  22. Mr.Murder says:

    This is being primarily pushed as an effort to remove liability for the station manufacturer.
    There may be tech items to consider destroying as well, on the fear they go elsewhere.

    Reply

  23. Dan Kervick says:

    Couldn’t this just be for domestic purposes – to boost support for the half a billion dollar budget increase in missile defense by impressing the public with a “peaceful use” for such systems?

    Reply

  24. JohnH says:

    Breaking the media blackout on the real news from Iraq: Bush Wants to Seal the Oil Deal by the End of the Year.
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JB16Ak05.html
    Doesn’t it seem strange that an Indian journalist is the one to break the news on an Asian website? Why is it that the entire Western media and on-line sites like this one are so determined in their silence about a major news story? Conspiracy? Or do their careers depend on turning a blind eye to what Bush is doing in Iraq?

    Reply

  25. Jeff Dexter says:

    Steve,
    I think you’re right to assert that this act was in part a quid pro quo to the Chinese. Looking forward to a possible event at the NAF on this recent event.

    Reply

  26. sdemetri says:

    I have assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that the China shoot-down, was in part a response to basing advanced radar facilities in Poland, Czech Republic, and Japan, which Foreign Affairs described in May/April 2006 as giving the US first strike capabilities against Russia and China, creating for the first time, if established, US nuclear supremecy. I don’t know the direct satellite/radar connection, but I am guessing one supports the other, and China showed its prowess at dealing with this joint problem they share with the Russians. How this shoot down fits, all part of a new arms’ capability race?

    Reply

  27. Jay C says:

    Leaving POA’s objections aside for the moment (hundreds of small bits will be way more likely to burn up in the atmosphere: one huge flaming mass of metal won’t) – the downside to this sort of exercise should be obvious: what if the “anti-satellite” missile doesn’t work?? As has been the all-too frequent case in the past.
    Either the whole “shoot” is an unrealistic set-up: OR the Navy (or whoever) is laying themselves open to a major embarrassment. Our government in action!

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ah yes, lets take one dangerous and toxic falling behometh, and reduce it to thousands of orbital projectiles that threaten operative satellites and future manned missions. Does the brilliance of our leaders know no bounds?
    And uh….if in fact a navy ship launches this attack, is the presence of such a missile, on a United States Navy vessel, a violation of the ABM treaty?
    (As alleged by Mike Rivero@ WhatReallyHappened.com. Not that treaties matter to this piece of shit in the Oval Office.)

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *