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Friday, July 08, 2005

The 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review: China and Space – The Unmentionables - July 7th - Heritage Foundation

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Today it was back to Heritage for another great lunch. We also attended a lecture beforehand. Due to a mix-up regarding the location of the event, I missed the first of the two panels. Thus, my remarks will deal only with the second panel.

Panel number two dealt with the issue of weapons in Space. In a rare event – at least at Heritage – the two panelists had very different opinions on the subject. Michael Krepon, who spoke first, argued against the militarization of space. Essentially, we would be opening Pandora’s Box. We already have a substantial lead over China in the space arena, and we don’t need to start an arm’s race in Space. No country has attacked a rival’s satellite yet, since all states equipped with satellites realize their own dependence on them. Ultimately, the US has the most to lose as far as satellite capability. To introduce Space as a new theater of war would be to shoot ourselves in the foot.

Mr. Baker Spring spoke next, and came to a different conclusion. He believes Space is already weaponized, since nuclear weapons are guided by satellites. He also supposes that a US Space program would serve as a deterrent, rather than starting an arms race. The current US naval policy is “reassurance through dominance.” Mr. Spring believes this policy will also work in Space

Personally, I side with Mr. Krepon. I can’t see China sitting quietly while we launch a program to put weapons in Space. They will perceive our move as a threat and will start a similar program. If the situation were reversed, does anyone think that the US would sit idly?! Also, even if we have progressed much further in Space technology so far, as Mr. Krepon pointed out, it doesn’t take much to shoot down a satellite. China – or any country with the ability to launch a satellite – can do so with ease. We also might want to look back to the development of the nuclear bomb. At that time the US was the only nation with such capabilities, but it didn’t take long for Russia to catch up. Granted, we should be prepared to strike at an enemy’s satellites if our own are attacked, but I don’t think we want to deal with the consequences of being the first to shoot.


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