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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

11.02.2006

We Control the Horizontal. We Control the Vertical.

The new U.S. space policy:

ON OCTOBER 18, the Washington Post reported on "the first revision of U.S. space policy in nearly 10 years." The specifics of that revision remain largely classified; however, the government did post an unclassified overview of the new policy which can be read here.

According to that document, "the President authorized a new national space policy on August 31, 2006 that establishes overarching national policy that governs the conduct of U.S. space activities." The document sets out a series of principles, goals, and guidelines that largely conform to the recommendations of the Commission to Assess United States National Security, Space Management, and Organization--otherwise known as the Rumsfeld Commission. That commission, which presented its recommendations in January of 2001, was authorized by a coalition of Republican senators who were concerned by the fact that "annual [Defense] budgets repeatedly short-change space programs," and was chaired by Donald Rumsfeld, who had become the nominee for Secretary of Defense by the time the commission's recommendations were delivered.


The ultimate goal of this new policy, as recommended by the commission more than five years ago, is to assure that the United States is able to "develop and deploy the means to deter and defend against hostile acts directed at U.S. space assets and against the uses of space hostile to U.S. interests." As General Lance W. Lord, the former commander of Air Force Space Command, told an Air Force conference in September of 2005, "Space supremacy is our vision for the future."


And space supremacy is now the official policy of the United States government. Among the principles set forth in the new document is that the United States "rejects any limitations on the fundamental right of the United States to operate in and acquire data from space;" furthermore, "the United States will view purposeful interference with its space systems as an infringement on its rights." It goes on to assert that the United States will "preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space . . . and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests." In an outright rejection of the sovereignty of the international community in space, the new policy also states that the United States "will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space."


I attended a briefing by Air Force General Chuck Horner, the first commander of Space Command, just after the Gulf War. He articulated U.S. space policy in much more direct terms, which I paraphrase:

"We want to be able to point anywhere on the globe and destroy it with conventional weapons."

Pretty cool.

And very useful these days.

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