On May 23-24 I attended an event organized by Dr. Helen Caldicott called Full Spectrum Dominance. The conference gathered key media representatives to hear briefings on the latest developments in military space issues.

The event began with Gen. Charles Horner, retired head of the U.S. Space Command. He told the assembly that the Pentagon does not “want to talk about space control because they are afraid of groups like you that will be protesting in the streets.”

Since World War II, over $130 billion has been wasted on research and development (R&D) for Star Wars. The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is now spending about $10 billion a year on space weapons. The Bush administration is expected to announce its new national space policy in June and the directive will likely give the Pentagon the green light to move forward with offensive technologies for military space control and domination.

It was commonly agreed that the U.S. today has sole military control of space. Peter Hayes, former Air Force officer, reported that nearly 70 percent of the weapons used in the recent U.S. “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq were guided to their targets by military space satellites.

Much time was spent debating the merits of “national missile defense.” Can a bullet hit a bullet in space? Ted Postol, from MIT, offered strong evidence that the missile defense “kill vehicle” could never discriminate between actual warheads and dummies, thus giving any attacking nation the ability to overwhelm the system.

One program offered by many as an alternative to an unworkable national missile defense system is to build a “theatre missile defense” (TMD), or boost-phase defense system that would have a “better chance” of destroying a launched “enemy” missile. This could be done by deploying TMD systems near North Korea (who today has zero nuclear weapons capable of hitting North America) and “taking out” their missiles soon after launch. Dr. Hui Zhang, a Chinese scientist, reminded the audience that China views TMD systems as highly destabilizing and believes they are intended to negate China’s current stock of 20 nuclear missiles. TMD deployments by the U.S., on Aegis destroyers, are planned in Japan, South Korea and possibly Taiwan. China has responded that TMD deployments could force them to build more nuclear missiles.

Dr. Everrett Dolman, professor of Military Studies at Maxwell AFB in Alabama, emphatically stated that the U.S. “will not give up its right to use force as long as it is the hegemon.” At one point, during a discussion about the need for a new international space treaty, Dolman responded derisively, “Mice always vote to bell the cat.”

One of the “mice” was Vladimir Yermakov, from the Russian embassy in Washington. Yermakov stated that Russia has sworn off first-deployment of weapons in space. In reference to Russia’s strong support for a new space weapons treaty he said, “We fail to understand the position of the U.S. in this matter. We ask what is wrong with our approach and get no answer.” He refers to the U.S. refusal to negotiate a new space treaty.

Loring Wirbel, of Citizens for Peace in Space in Colorado Springs, estimated that about $70 billion a year is spent on “military space” development once you factor in the combined space budgets of the MDA, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Administration, NASA, and the Department of Energy.

I began my presentation by suggesting we look at Christopher Columbus and Spain. I reminded everyone how Queen Isabella began the 100-year process of building the Spanish Armada after Columbus’ “successful” return voyage from the Americas. Spain’s naval armada helped create the global war system. I talked about the long-range plan of the space command to build a military highway from the Earth out to the planetary bodies, and showed the congressional study called “Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years.” I suggested that “missile defense” was a Trojan horse that didn’t have to work — it had already allowed the Pentagon and the aerospace industry to move tens of billions of dollars into programs for space warfare — all the while hyping up North Korea’s “puny” missile capability. I concluded that America is addicted to military spending. I said that people want jobs, and that both Democrats and Republicans are not addressing the issue because both parties are committed to massive military spending. I called for the defunding of all space weapons R&D and suggested our hard-earned tax dollars should be used to develop alternative sustainable technologies.

We must step up our efforts and ensure that when Bush releases his new space policy directive in June, it is met with a resounding chorus that says we will not allow this plan for space warfare to go forward. We must raise our voices now.

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (www.space4peace.org).