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Canada’s Chance to Keep Space for Peace

Canada-USA

The Canadian government will soon make a historic decision about what role it will play in the new U.S. Star Wars plan. The Pentagon calls it “missile defence,” but a quick review of U.S. military documents reveals a long and clear record of moving toward the weaponization of space.

In a 1997 U.S. Space Command planning document entitled “Vision for 2020,” the military outlined its plan to control and dominate space. “Control of space,” the blueprint noted, “is the ability to assure access to space, freedom of operations within the space medium, and an ability to deny others the use of space.”

The Canadian public is being reassured that its government would not enter an agreement to collaborate on Star Wars if there was any proof that it was designed for any purpose other than “defence.” In spite of the overwhelming evidence that U.S. “missile defence” is a far more radical and ambitious programme, the Canadian government moves ever closer toward participation.

What are the forces driving Canadian Star Wars participation? All one has to do is look at the aerospace industry in Canada to find the answer. The Canadian Defence Industries Association predicts that Canadian aerospace corporations could win $100 to $180 million per year in contracts for “missile defence.”

Soon after taking office, President Bush sent Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman to an international security conference in Munich. Lieberman told the audience of military and political leaders: “Gentlemen, we have bi-partisan support for ‘missile defence’ in the Congress.” The message was clear. If you don’t want to miss out on the expected technology and profits, then your governments had better join the Star Wars train.

So far, this strategy has brought the U.K., Australia, Italy and Japan on-board. Will Canada be next?

In addition to financial gain, delusions of “influence” are helping to drive the train forward. Since almost all warfare is now coordinated from space, the strategic implications of sole U.S. control of the heavens are stark, indeed. Some governments, fearing this advantage, mistakenly believe that by attaching themselves to the U.S. programme they, too, will gain in power and status, winning a seat at the decision-making “table.”

On August 2, 2004, the U.S. Air Force quietly published a new doctrine called “Counterspace Operations.” In the foreword to the document, General John Jumper, Air Force chief of staff, stated: “The development of offensive counterspace capabilities provides combatant commanders with new tools for counterspace operations. … These operations may be utilized throughout the spectrum of conflict and may achieve a variety of effects from temporary denial to complete destruction of the adversary’s space capability.”

This grandiose vision, however, includes a number of serious blind spots. Just as proposed U.S. earth-based missile-defence technologies are largely unproven, fantastically expensive and can be easily and cheaply counteracted, so its proposed spaced-based weapon systems will only exacerbate the ills they seek to cure: proliferation, instability, suspicion and conflict.

The U.S. is poised to initiate a new, deadly and costly arms race in space, guaranteed only to make the world–and particularly North America–more vulnerable to devastating attack. The best thing that could happen would be that nations like Canada refuse to join the programme. Canada was correct about the Iraq war, and will be correct again if it rejects participation in missile defence.

George W. Bush’s visit to Canada underscored his desperate agenda to drag Canada into Star Wars. Bush hopes that Canada’s good reputation in the world will bring needed legitimacy to his plan to move warfare into the heavens.

Future generations will remember those of us who speak out now to protect space from the insanity of modern warfare. Let us insist that our precious tax dollars be used to give life here on Earth, rather than new forms of death in the skies.

Bruce K. Gagnon, a writer and researcher on nuclear issues, is Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space in Brunswick, Maine. He recently toured several Canadian provinces speaking out in support of global opposition to Star Wars.

This article appeared in the January/February 2005 issue of Canadian Dimension .

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