Global network says we need peace in space

October 26, 2001

The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space started planning worldwide rallies against ‘Star Wars’ for Oct. 13 long before the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But Global Network founder Bruce Gagnon said that with a war raging in Asia, the protests could not be more timely.

‘In the name of combating terrorism, Congress is giving in to Bush,’ Gagnon said in a telephone interview from the group’s headquarters in Gainesville, Florida. ‘The Democrats have folded on their opposition to Star Wars,’ also known as national missile defense (NMD).

Gagnon pointed out that Congress approved the funding for space weapons research and development even though one lesson of Sept. 11 was that it could not have protected us against the terrorists who hijacked four airliners and turned them into deadly missiles.

‘It didn’t matter that an anti-missile system would have been useless,’ Gagnon said, ‘the politicians are saying give the military anything they want.’

The House of Representatives voted 398 to 17 on Sept. 25 to authorize $343 billion for the Pentagon in fiscal year 2002. It includes $7.9 billion for NMD, $400 million less than Bush’s request.

Three lawmakers, Reps. John Spratt (D-S.C.), Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) had introduced an amendment to reduce NMD funding by $918 million. They withdrew it after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

The Senate voted 99 to 0 Oct. 2 for an equally enormous Pentagon spending package. The Senate Armed Services Committee had voted to cut the NMD budget by $1.3 billion. But after Sept. 11, the Senate voted to grant Bush authority to spend that money either for missile defense or anti-terrorism, as he sees fit.

The Senate also dropped a provision that would require Bush to obtain Congressional approval for any NMD spending that violates the 1972 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty with Russia, considered the most important arms control agreement ever signed by the U.S. and Russia.

Supporters of the measure have vowed to reintroduce it. ‘This (missile defense) debate has not gone away,’ Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) declared. ‘I believe it is very unlikely that the president, under these circumstances, is going to withdraw unilaterally from [the ABM] treaty. Surely, the events of Sept. 11 have made it clear that collective action against terrorism and collective action for our security is essential …’

But Gagnon said that everything the Bush administration has done in response to the terrorist attack has been essentially unilateral, although covered with a fig leaf ‘coalition’ against terrorism.

‘Bush is warning that this will be a long, long war,’ Gagnon said. ‘It will allow them to continue expanding the military in such a way that it drains funds from Social Security, Medicare and other social programs. I think that is what this is all about. They had this agenda and they were waiting for an incident that would allow them to move forward with it.’

In addition to slashing funding for human needs programs, the plan also includes expanding U.S. global hegemony, Gagnon said.

‘Look in an atlas at the maps of these Central Asian countries – Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan. Uzbekistan has the world’s largest gold mine. There are huge deposits of oil and natural gas in the region. Much of the tensions between the U.S. and Russia are over which country will move those resources.’

The Bush administration wants to exploit the current war on Afghanistan to establish permanent military bases in the region ‘so it will be able to control the governments of those countries, control their resources and their extraction,’ Gagnon charged.

There is also a tie-in with the U.S. Space Command’s drive for a ‘multilayered’ anti-ballistic missile system to ‘control and dominate’ Earth from outer space. One of those layers, Theater Missile Defense, is designed to shoot down ballistic missiles in their boost phase, immediately after they’ve been fired.

‘Critics point out that the system would not work because the anti-missile missiles would be fired at too great a distance to bring down Chinese and Russian ICBMs just after liftoff,’ Gagnon said.

‘But again, look at the map. If the U.S. could set up theater missiles in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, they would be near enough to knock down China’s 20 or so ballistic missiles. They would be near enough to target Russia’s ICBMs. I call it a checkmate of both Russia and China.’

The Global Network has charged that the ground-based anti-ballistic missiles are the opening wedge for ultimate deployment of a full-fledged ‘Star Wars’ weapons-in-space program. It would include, according to Gagnon, nuclear-powered laser battle stations capable of destroying the satellites of other nations as well as targets anywhere on earth.

”Missile defense’ is the Trojan Horse, the foot in the door, the way to sell Star Wars as a defensive system. Then, once missile defense is deployed, the space-based laser program would be put in motion,’ according to Regina Hagen of the German branch of the Global Network.

‘In the end, hundreds of billions of dollars will be wasted in order to help the U.S. Space Command become the ‘Master of Space.’ Now is the time for people around the world to act in order to keep space for peace. War in space will mean more war on earth.’

President Reagan first endorsed the Star Wars scheme when it was presented to him by Dr. Edward Teller, ‘father of the H-bomb,’ during a private meeting at the White House.

On March 23, 1983, Reagan stunned the world by proposing a massive system of ground-based and space-based weapons capable of shooting down any Soviet missile fired at the United States.

The peace movement, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and many in Congress reacted with alarm and outrage to this so-called Strategic Defense Initiative, warning that the system would flagrantly violate the 1972 ABM treaty in which the U.S. and the Soviet Union agreed not to deploy an anti-missile shield.

Critics warned that breaking the treaty would trigger a deadly new arms race and increase the danger of nuclear war. Dr. Carl Sagan said that far from being defensive, Star Wars was an offensive, nuclear first-strike system.

The very fact that it was labeled ‘Star Wars’ underlined the lunacy of the scheme, which critics warned would cost well over a trillion dollars. It was derided as ‘pork barrel in space’ and an umbrella riddled with holes.

Thousands of scientists and engineers, including dozens of Nobel Laureates, signed a petition pledging to refuse to do research or development on Star Wars.

The collapse of the Soviet Union seemed to undermine any rationale for Star Wars, yet Congress continued to fund anti-missile research and development, which since the end of World War II has cost more than $90 billion. The Clinton administration backed a ‘scaled down’ ground-based version called ballistic missile defense.

Since Gagnon founded the Global Network in 1992, the group has warned against illusions that Star Wars is dead. The group has kept up a steady drumbeat that the Pentagon has never retreated from its aim of deploying a full-fledged Star Wars weapons-in-space system. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are bringing the nation full circle, back to the most crazed Reagan-Teller version of Star Wars, claiming it is necessary to protect against ‘rogue nations.’

The U.S. Space Command web site ( graphically illustrates the Pentagon’s drive to use space as the ‘final battlefield’ to control earth. A report, ‘Vision 20/20, heavily illustrated with lurid graphics of space lasers zapping targets on earth, warns that the world is more and more divided between the ‘haves and have-nots.’ The Pentagon must have weapons in space to defend the interests of the ‘haves.’

Gagnon said protests are scheduled for Oct. 13 in at least 110 cities in 19 nations around the world. A dedicated group of peace activists in Colorado Springs will protest outside the headquarters of the U.S. Space Command.

There will also be protests throughout Europe, including in England, at Menwith Hills, where a crucial Star Wars ground tracking station is located.

Cleveland, Ohio was chosen for the Global Network’s peace conference because NASA has a project there to develop the nuclear rocket that would be used to power satellite battle stations in space, a deadly threat if they were to crash in populated areas. Also, TRW, one of the four prime Star Wars contractors, is based on Cleveland.

‘The Cleveland AFL-CIO endorsed our conference and one of the top leaders of the labor movement is coming to speak,’ Gagnon said.

There will be a workshop on what Star Wars means to trade unionists. Will it create many jobs?

‘We know that military technology is very capital intensive,’ Gagnon explained. ‘In every single case, a billion dollars in tax funds invested in any other kind of production creates far more jobs, whether it be construction of hospitals, fixing our roads, hiring more teachers. A massive infusion of money into the military is going to hurt the economy.’

It will create the same kind of budget crisis that plagued the nation during the Reagan years, Gagnon said, when huge tax cuts for the rich and deficits were used to justify savage cutbacks in human needs programs and a trillion-dollar weapons buildup.

‘They didn’t get all the cuts in social spending they wanted under Reagan,’ Gagnon said. ‘They didn’t privatize Social Security, so now they are back again with a plan to weaponize space and to finish off the social programs.’


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