United States is planning to take control of parts of space and
develop patrolling military aircraft in orbit as part of a revived
Star Wars proposal for an American empire above the ozone layer…
Until now, international treaties have forbidden the deployment
of weapons in outer space, although a loophole allows the US to
use its satellites for military intelligence. The 1967 Space Treaty
stated that outer space should be free for exploration and use by
all states and would not be subject to national appropriation by
occupation or any other means." ~
Sydney Morning Herald
I hear "loophole"? As
I've said before, if it excels at anything, the Bush administration
excels at finding and exploiting loopholes. And that's precisely
what it's going to do, if people here and abroad don't start insisting
that international law and treaties apply to everyone – even
(and especially) superpowers
with money to burn.
watched the original Star Wars for the billionth time last
night. Whenever I see those poorly equipped insurgents, fighting
their hearts out against a military with more money than King Midas
and every gadget imaginable, I always feel a pang of sympathy and
awe. They keep trying, with so little in terms of "stuff"
on their side…but they are fighting only to defend themselves. They
use the Force "only for defense, never for attack," as
wise Yoda says.
is, when I read about the "Son of Star Wars" program that
Mr. Bush has in mind for us (a
real bargain at just $10 billion dollars per year!), I don't
see that loveable rag-tag band of rebels with Luke Skywalker, Princess
Leia and Hans Solo at the helm.
I first saw Star
Wars twenty odd years ago, like others in the audience I
saw the rebel force as America's youth: The good guys. Along with
the other young people in the audience, I rooted for the good guys,
the ones with nothing more than a dilapidated "star cruiser,"
some teamwork and a lot of faith to see them through.
a few years had passed since the end of the futile Vietnam War.
We'd grown suspicious of leaders on a mission to "spread democracy"
with bombs and napalm. We had seen for ourselves that the people
who died for the dreams of reckless old men in armchairs were teenagers
and 20-somethings: our friends, our generation, us.
that was "before the dark times, before the Empire," as
Obe Wan said. Ever since the first Gulf War, and then the quick,
"decisive" victories over the impoverished people of Afghanistan
and Iraq, I no longer see my government's mighty military as anything
like the rebels – now it looks more like the Empire's robotic
army. Fearless and faceless in their white uniforms, it carries
out the Emperor's will.
now, with plans in the works to control the heavens and to attack
as well as defend from outer space, there's no avoiding the fact
that America looks more like the Empire than the rebel band. When
you take a look at the scary plans of the world's greatest superpower,
with oodles of bombs and satellites and Lockheed Martins at its
disposal, you may see the Emperor's army, too. The words certainly
fit: Dominance. Superiority.
What We Can Do!"
met some well-heeled chaps working for defense contractors on planes
and even on good ol' Amtrak, my favorite mode of transportation
that Mr. Bush and his Republican-controlled Congress have
no use for (after all, it reduces highway congestion and exhaust
fumes, and carts around a lot of poor folks – where's the profit
in that?). What always strikes me about defense contractor employees
is their childlike fascination with "what we can do,"
their eyes shining like my little brother's used to do whenever
he got a new Hot Wheels car. They breathlessly tell me about their
new laser system, or satellite capability, or biotechnology, or
not been told precisely what the Pentagon will do with their
inventions, but that's not their concern. They have new toys, and
they want to play with them. They're having a blast in the
only American industry where money is absolutely no object.
we can do," as innovative Nazi scientists and manufacturers
demonstrated to an initially skeptical world, is a phrase with no
moral or ethical limitations. "What we can do" isn't necessarily
immoral, but it's definitely amoral. "What we can do"
is strictly a matter of technology and money, both of which the
Pentagon and its merry bands will have plenty, as long as the government
keeps funding them by robbing the common folk of the unglamorous
basics: medical care,
I took my mother to the ER recently, it was midnight and packed
beyond capacity. Nobody had insurance, and as the stressed nurse
said, "this is what happens – it's the only way poor people
can get medical care, because we're not allowed to turn them away.
But we're overwhelmed like this every night, which means that if
you have a life-threatening emergency, you might end up –
." She stopped herself from stating the obvious.
we could convince Mr. Bush that millions of sick and dying Americans
are a threat to national security, to get just a crumb of that yearly
10 billion diverted to health care?
to Trigger the Second Nuclear Arms Race
you start floating scary ideas out there, the fear you generate
may help you get the war or funding you want, but other people –
and other militaries – are going to get (excuse the pun) "up
A: "The danger to America is grave and growing, Bush said.
The Iraqi regime has biological and chemical weapons and is building
the facilities needed to make more. British officials, he noted,
say the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack
in as little as 45 minutes if given the order." (emphasis
B: "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the
US Air Force share a vision of a new transformational capability
that aims to provide a means of delivering a substantial payload
from within the continental United States (CONUS) to anywhere on
Earth in less than two hours." (emphasis added)
light of the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive attacks, it's unlikely
that any country on earth (except for Britain, perhaps, since Tony
Blair has made of it an American colony of sorts) would trust the
US to "dominate" space with all manner of weaponry. Other
nations will mount a frenzied campaign to catch up.
to the Future: The Nuclear Clock Is Ticking
you're old enough, you no doubt recall the "nuclear clock."
News anchors issued dire warnings that the time remaining before
mutual nuclear annihilation was less than two hours, or half an
hour, and so on. The last warning I heard during the "Cold
War" was: "Ladies and Gentlemen, our experts tell us that
the nuclear clock is now set at 11:55 pm. Only five minutes, metaphorically,
are remaining for life on earth…"
was a grim and stupid time. Schoolchildren were sick and tired of
scooting under their desks to blaring sirens in "self-defense,"
should we be nuked by the Russians. It was really funny, in a pitiful
way, and we knew it. Even a 10-year-old knows that whatever it was
that wiped out two large Japanese cities would have no trouble finding
kids hiding under little metal desks.
I found an old Civil Defense manual in my parents' attic: "If
you are exposed to radiation, be sure to wash your hands and clothing."
As I said, a grim and stupid time.
is precisely what our children and grandchildren have to look forward
to, thanks to our hyper-aggressive "national security":
The same sword hanging over their heads – dangled by the
same enemies who made us hide under our desks! Our descendents
will glumly read in their history books, "In the early years
of the 21st century, US President George W. Bush popularized
what he termed "pre-emptive (or preventive) wars," also
known as the "War on Terror." Other nations followed suit
when the "Star Wars Missile Defense Program" triggered
nuclear war fears across the globe. These events led to the nuclear
arms race that now dominates our global economy."
What's a Heaven For?
in this greedy age of the "ownership society," the question
arises: When did space become anyone's personal property? And isn't
"space," after all, a poor word for that which people
all over the world have seen throughout the ages as sacred and mysterious,
celestial home of the Divine? "Space" implies that there's
nothing there – it's just a big gaping hole, waiting to be
filled with our gadgets, our weapons, our bombs, and of course our
must stand up for sensible defense, becoming an influential friend
to other nations instead of a threatening pariah. Surely we can
dream of something wiser than more and more weapons positioned higher
and higher! Surely we can spend at least some of the riches we now
lavish on nuclear warheads for the education of human heads instead.
America's "best and the brightest" who once dreamed of
working for nonviolence, international cooperation and service to
others often end up, because our government doesn't fund those "unrealistic"
things, using their gifts to build a bigger bunker buster.
to the big promises of politicians who stand to profit from it,
"Son of Star Wars," like any other purely military defense
system, can't be guaranteed 100% effective. But it can create
a lot of fearful, trigger-happy enemies for you and yours.
us not be lulled into amoral considerations of "what we can
do," seeking instead "what we should do." For verily,
our dreams – not our weapons – should exceed our grasp,
or what's a Heaven for?
Dr. Teresa Whitehurst [send
her mail] is a clinical psychologist and the author of Jesus
on Parenting: 10 Essential Principles That Will Transform Your Family
(2004). She offers parenting workshops and writes the column, "Democracy,
Faith and Values." Visit her website.