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Jun 19, 2007

The Missile Shield and the Race for Space Awareness

Posted by in categories: defense, existential risks, geopolitics, military, nuclear weapons, open source, space

The US-led effort to expand the military BMEWS (ballistic missile early warning radar system) to Poland and the Czech Republic provoke Russian military strategists. Putin has proposed using their already operative radar base in Azerbajian (See “Azeri radar eyed for US shield”, BBC) in exchange for information from the US system. The US/NATO proposed TMD (theater missile defense) will also integrate early warning systems for short-range missiles in southern Europe. Is the race for space awareness and the weaponization of space inevitable?

The justification for the missile shield is the potential threat of long range missiles from Iran and North Korea (See “N-Korea test fires missile”, BBC). Military experts predict that with the current progress of nuclear research and missile technology available to Iran they will pose a threat to the US in 2015. NATO and Russia co-operate in certain military matters through the Russia-Nato Council but has increasingly been in conflict over the Iranian nuclear program and the European missile shield. (See “Russia-NATO: A marriage of convenience”, RIA Novosti). Russia has also demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the missile shield by launching their RS-24 multiple missile system carrying 10 warheads (See “RS-24 Missiles to replace old systems within next few years”, Interfax).

Terrestrial radars need to be complemented by satellites to keep track of missile launches across the planet (so called “boost phase interceptors”, see “Missile defense, satellites and politics”, The Space Review) to ensure complete space awareness. The Chinese Space Agency tested an anti-satellite missile earlier this year (See “Pentagon says China’s anti-satellite test posed a threat to nations”, AP). The move towards a hot space war could be imminent. The official press release was the only information given from Chinese authorities. The secrecy surrounding space capabilities was recently challenged by French authorities when they discovered 20–30 unregistered US surveillance satellites. (See “French says ‘non’ to U.S. Disclosure of Secret Satellites”, Space.com).

The race for the control of space is threatening to destabilize established military power structures. Secrecy is not the way of solving imbalances in international relations. Space is a part of the “commons” and should be dealt with accordingly. I propose an open source approach to the space awareness problematique. There are several approaches to distributed space awareness, e.g. launching private satellites for surveillance and distribution of real-time satellite imagery in order to counter a military space race. The alternative is a UN led control organization like the IAEA.

Other organizations like the Lifeboat Foundation could also play an important role in developing a threat reduction system for the ongoing cold space war.

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  • […] Russia-NATO: a marriage of convenience? Read my comprehensive news summary of the missile shield problematique on the Lifeboat Foundation blog (”The Missile Shield and the Race for Space Awareness“). Despite all the difficulties of cooperation between former rivals, “the impression that the Russia-NATO Council is called upon to be concerned only with Russia is a wrong one. Also wrong is the impression that it [the Council] is winding down,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Berlin in February. Sergei Ivanov, then deputy prime minister and defense minister, said that “Russia and NATO intend to work out a long-term plan to coordinate their efforts for a period of ten years.” The NATO leadership also believes that the fight against terrorism, stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and the settlement of regional conflicts are the foundation of cooperation between Russia and the alliance. The two sides are particularly happy with the success of a series of joint counterterrorist exercises.NATO-Russia cooperation on a theater missile defense system was written into the Rome Declaration as a separate paragraph. A year later, in 2003, NATO’s then Secretary General George Robertson described the program as a “flagship” project. At that time, participants in the Russia-NATO Council meeting agreed on the first phase of a coordination program to develop a non-strategic missile defense system. Since then, the two sides have ignored the other’s moves in this area until the United States this year announced a plan to establish the third positioning region for its national anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Following Russia’s determined objections, the Americans began offering it a role in their anti-missile shield which it was obliged simply to refuse. For example, the Americans offered to use Russian missiles as targets for their anti-missiles or to deploy elements of a U.S. missile defense system in Russia. […]

  • Ole Peter Galaasen on June 20, 2007 1:56 am

    I should clarify my view on this. I totally support a missile shield but disagree with the forceful introduction through the US and the lack of open debate. There is also the question of who owns space, it seems that “might is right” even in space.

    Hopefully the post will succinctly introduce the current situation and make us think of different strategies for introducing threat-reducing technologies. The radar and silos in Poland/Chezchia are met with over 50% opposition.

    I also believe US/NATO need to look at their bias — who is the real ICBM enemy? With all the secrecy the Russian and Chinese are harder to control, ref. Chinese anti-satellite.

    Another question is if the Russians gain access to the system by exchanging info through their existing radar, will the Russian forward information about Chinese systems also?

    How can we defuse the tense military situation in space and allow private space interests to flourish?

  • Ole Peter Galaasen on June 20, 2007 3:39 am

    “Forty years of cold war history show a successful pattern of US policy aimed at supporting space as a sanctuary. The reason is that we have more to lose if space is weaponized. Since the Eisenhower era, the open-skies philosophy has sought to bolster space ISR/MCG/Comm legitimacy—not space dominance. Theoretically, weaponization is overtly threatening and destabilizing, while a robust ISR environment—everyone spying on everyone—reduces paranoia and is ultimately stabilizing. This motivated the many signatories of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 to agree that no proprietary claims could be made of space, thereby legitimizing global space reconnaissance.”

    From “Space Sanctuary: A Viable National Strategy”, by Lt. Col. Bruce DeBlois — Airpower Journal 1998.

  • danny bee on June 29, 2007 7:43 pm

    Is there any way for this blog to blog about my polar citis concept and blog? Google the term or wiki it.

  • danny bee on June 29, 2007 7:44 pm

    Is there any way for this blog to blog about my polar citis concept and blog? Google the term or wiki it.

    polarcityboy wrote:
    Polar cities in the far distant future to house remnants of humankind
    who survive the apocalypse of devastating global warming? The casual
    reader might think I am an alarmist or a mere scare-monger, but I am
    neither. I am a visionary.

    Polar cities are proposed sustainable polar retreats designed to house
    human beings in the future, in the event that global warming causes
    the central and middle regions of the Earth to become uninhabitable
    for a long period of time. Although they have not been built yet, some
    futurists have been giving considerable thought to the concepts
    involved.

    I know, I know, the very thought of “polar cities” sounds like some
    science-fiction movie you don’t want to see. But it might be
    instructive to think about such sustainable Artic and Antartic
    communities for the future of humankind. If worse come to worse, and
    things fall apart, perhaps by the year 2500 or the year 3000, we must
    might need polar cities. And perhaps the time to start thinking about
    them, and designing and planning them (and maybe even building, or
    pre-building them), is now.

    Here is more food for thought, from an entry in Wikipedia:
    “High-population-density cities, to be built in the polar regions,
    with sustainable energy and transportation infrastructures, will
    require substantial nearby agriculture. Boreal soils are largely poor
    in key nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, but nitrogen-fixing
    plants (such as the various alders in the Artic region) with the
    proper symbiotic microbes and mycorrhizal fungi can likely remedy such
    poverty without the need for petroleum-derived fertilizers. Regional
    probiotic soil improvement should perhaps rank high on any polar
    cities priority list. James Lovelock’s notion of a widely distributed
    almanac of science knowledge and post-industrial survival skills also
    appears to have value.”

    Oh, I know it’s fashionable to mock global warming alarmists and doom
    and gloom futurists with no credentials except a keyboard and a blog,
    but there’s a method to the madness of thinking about polar cities.
    Maybe, just maybe, if enough people hear about the concept of polar
    cities and realize how serious such a possibility is, maybe, just
    maybe, they will get off their tuches and start thinking hard and fast
    about how we humans are causing climate change by our lifestyles and
    inventions and gadgets and need for cars and airplanes and trains and
    ships and factories and coal-burning plants across the globe — and
    then maybe it won’t be fashionable to mock global warming alarmists
    anymore.

    The future does not look good. But we can do something now. No, not
    building polar cities now. That’s for the future to decide. What we
    can do now is stop what we are doing now and start planning in a more
    sane way for the future of the species. If we even care. I do. We must
    stop all human acitivity that is responsible for emitting carbon
    dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere. Now. It’s getting later earlier
    and earlier, I tell you.

  • danny bee on June 29, 2007 7:45 pm

    Polar cities in the far distant future to house remnants of humankind
    who survive the apocalypse of devastating global warming? The casual
    reader might think I am an alarmist or a mere scare-monger, but I am
    neither. I am a visionary.

    Polar cities are proposed sustainable polar retreats designed to house
    human beings in the future, in the event that global warming causes
    the central and middle regions of the Earth to become uninhabitable
    for a long period of time. Although they have not been built yet, some
    futurists have been giving considerable thought to the concepts
    involved.

    I know, I know, the very thought of “polar cities” sounds like some
    science-fiction movie you don’t want to see. But it might be
    instructive to think about such sustainable Artic and Antartic
    communities for the future of humankind. If worse come to worse, and
    things fall apart, perhaps by the year 2500 or the year 3000, we must
    might need polar cities. And perhaps the time to start thinking about
    them, and designing and planning them (and maybe even building, or
    pre-building them), is now.

    Here is more food for thought, from an entry in Wikipedia:
    “High-population-density cities, to be built in the polar regions,
    with sustainable energy and transportation infrastructures, will
    require substantial nearby agriculture. Boreal soils are largely poor
    in key nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, but nitrogen-fixing
    plants (such as the various alders in the Artic region) with the
    proper symbiotic microbes and mycorrhizal fungi can likely remedy such
    poverty without the need for petroleum-derived fertilizers. Regional
    probiotic soil improvement should perhaps rank high on any polar
    cities priority list. James Lovelock’s notion of a widely distributed
    almanac of science knowledge and post-industrial survival skills also
    appears to have value.”

    Oh, I know it’s fashionable to mock global warming alarmists and doom
    and gloom futurists with no credentials except a keyboard and a blog,
    but there’s a method to the madness of thinking about polar cities.
    Maybe, just maybe, if enough people hear about the concept of polar
    cities and realize how serious such a possibility is, maybe, just
    maybe, they will get off their tuches and start thinking hard and fast
    about how we humans are causing climate change by our lifestyles and
    inventions and gadgets and need for cars and airplanes and trains and
    ships and factories and coal-burning plants across the globe — and
    then maybe it won’t be fashionable to mock global warming alarmists
    anymore.

    The future does not look good. But we can do something now. No, not
    building polar cities now. That’s for the future to decide. What we
    can do now is stop what we are doing now and start planning in a more
    sane way for the future of the species. If we even care. I do. We must
    stop all human acitivity that is responsible for emitting carbon
    dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere. Now. It’s getting later earlier
    and earlier, I tell you.

  • danny bee on July 5, 2007 8:53 pm

    Editorial: Polar Cities in the Future

    This is an unsigned editorial from the Global Warming Warning Post:

    “We don’t know about you, but the recent a recent news story (see below) about the possibility of polar cities to house survivors of global warming in the future has caught our attention. Say what you will, it’s an intriguing idea, even if a bit far-fetched. On first reading, the concept seems preposterous, ridiculous, unscientific and impractical. But upon further reflection, the idea of planning, designing and building polar cities now — while we still have time and resources and fuel and transportation and perspective — makes sense. And even if the envisioned polar cities never get built, the very idea of them should frighten us all into taking concrete steps now to reduce our carboon footprints and dependance on oil and coal for energy needs and transportation.”

    “Polar cities are a preposterous idea that nevertheless should be taken seriously. Consider this: what if it really comes to that? What then? And more importantly, what now?”