Space Balls

The evil empire has fallen. The U.S. is the only super-power on the planet. But, since we know that it’s still a dangerous world, Dubya has reached back to the frigid past, knocked the frost from Donald Rumsfeld and set him loose. The result? Star wars redux.

Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Rumsfeld. His mission: to boldly go where no cold warrior has gone before.

Yes, Dubya, the world is dangerous. The Chinese are selling their missiles to Iraq. The North Koreans are building missiles with technology probably borrowed from the Chinese. And the Russians? They’re selling rocket rides to pay for their space program and paying the scientists and soldiers that operate their missile system for 20 bucks a month.

What about those Chinese missiles? Iraq used them against Israel and Saudi Arabia before that drive-by shooting called the Gulf War. They struck both countries, not necessarily where the Iraqi’s aimed them, but they did land within a couple of hundred thousand square miles of where they were aimed. If China launches a missile at New York chances are that it will land somewhere in North America, provided it makes it that far. Of course, the Russians are much closer and if their Siberian technicians sober up long enough to trigger one of their ICBMs, Dubuque could be in peril. Provided, that is, the targeting computers are still working, since money for their maintenance disappeared faster than vodka in Yeltsin’s house. The North Koreans? They’re using Chinese missile technology — remember?

Rummy’s hare-brained space plans will disengage the U.S. from future arms limitation talks. We must withdraw from the nuclear arms limitation treaties in order to build the latest version of Rocket Ronny’s Strategic Defense Initiative. Militarizing space gets us “a paradigm shift,” says a senior Pentagon official, “We are probably not going to be hampered by arms control agreements.” Oh, those pesky and obstructing agreements, and in such a dangerous world!

Listen to Dubya in his first significant military policy speech: “In space, we’ll protect the network of satellites essential to the flow of our commerce and the defense of our common interests.” Notwithstanding his speaking on a subject he knows nothing about, the warning bells signaling conflicted interests sound loud and clear. It is our commercial interests that need protecting, not our people and our homes. Before Rummy skated into the Pentagon he sat on a Congressional commission that studied space from a military standpoint. This commission also had representatives from eight corporations currently working on missile defense technology for the Pentagon. In the commission’s final report they concluded that the U.S. was “an attractive candidate for a space Pearl Harbor.”

A space Pearl Harbor! Another date that will live in infamy? From where will this sneak attack come? Perhaps Iraq, North Korea, China, and the Russians will launch all their missiles at once. Maybe they’ll even hit one of the hundreds of satellites and thousands of pieces of junk orbiting the planet. Yikes! No more dish. Oh, no! Network TV! Worse yet, how will gangsters, drug sellers and pardoned criminals bank their money if they can’t wire transfer the dirty dollars to the Caymans? Yes, the world is a dangerous place.

Rummy’s embryonic plans call for anti-satellite satellites, space-based laser weapons systems and a space plane capable of rapidly deploying weapons around the world — if it can get through the blasting lasers. I’m sure there are even wackier ideas out there, such as photon torpedoes or a cloaking devices. Refrigerated Rummy’s plans also suggest shrinking the Army and expanding the use of long-range bombers and drone aircraft. Now there’s a good idea: bomb ‘em and look at the craters from the sky. No need to walk the ground; we are the space kings.

There are more pressing problems here on earth. Russia slides deeper into anarchy every day, placing those missiles Rummy worries about further from sane control. North Korea starves people to build its military while we isolate them more and more. We rattle our aircraft carriers at China and pledge to sacrifice American youth on an island that the nationalist Chinese stole from its indigenous people in the first place. Our threats push the Chinese into a more nationalistic and reactionary stance.

Focus on this world, then on space. Send Rummy to the space station for free, and leave him there.

Top Stories