“Ensure Freedom of Space”

I don’t delve that much in straight politics here as obviously, “Outside In” does not have much to do with politics. Nor is politics a strong interest of mine. I’m not a cynic, but politics is something I’m always skeptical of. I do vote, registered “unaffiliated”. But, this is post about politics because of one issue that really matters in the big picture of human history. The Obama administration had taken a early stand on an issue that is a big deal both to my film and to human history:

Space Weapons

If that phrase does not make you completely uncomfortable, perhaps you’ve not considered the physics. It’s one thing to have ICBM’s pointed at you from thousands of miles away. It’s another thing if even one missile is 200 miles above your head.

It gets worse. If I have a high-powered laser, bomb, dirty bomb, biological weapon and I’m in North Korea, it’s nearly impossible to threaten anyone other than people right near me. But put the same item in orbit over a capital city and everything changes.

At this point, you should go buy or rent “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” to familiarize yourself with the insanity of weapon threats, counter threats, deterrents and the like. Plus, it’s the best satire ever made and perhaps one of the best comedy films ever. Black & White, Mono Sound, but more timely now than ever.

Okay, back to space weapons. Simply put, if any country launches and maintains space weapons, a terrible chapter in human history will begin. Unlike nuclear missiles, there is no “land”, “borders”, “territory” in space and any attempt is & would be silly (exactly how far “up” would a country go?) to try to create them. Counter “defensive” weapons would need enormous power and range to effectively defend against them. The cost, expense, chaos and sheer insanity of a space weapons race would make the Cold War look like a practice game of bridge.

The worst part of it is that small, non-superpowers (say Iran) could threaten regions with minimal expense. Superpowers like China and US would have to spend trillions to try to “defend & counter” and the “defenses” would threaten everyone else. It’s a dead-end, doomsday game that would peril our planet’s future far more rapidly that global warming or any other threat.

Unlike the Bush Administration which actively pursued space weapons “defense” and the Clinton administration which opened the door to space weapons by the US (if you have not yet watched Dr. Strangelove, you really should not be reading this far), the Obama administration has just come out in favor of a space weapons ban. Like other tasks before them, this is not easy for the simple fact “space weapon” is not that easy to define. Anything weighing several thousand pounds or more, like a communications satellite, hanging over the heads of people below is potential weapon. So it’s not going to be easy. And the current policy does not go nearly far enough to deal with the issue. But it’s a start.

Space.com has a article about today – it’s interesting to read the various opinions which all seem to lack a real big picture view of the issue. But hopefully, Obama will find people on his team that do. I’m not sure it’s things like the Iraq War, Katrina, 9/11 or even the economy that will define Clinton, Bush, Obama etc. in the long lens of history. I suspect it’s going to be the issues that peril the entire planet – environment (especially the oceans), climate change (which I think is still not well understood), space weapons, overpopulation and human exploration of space.

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