By Dallas Darling
When President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the Fifteenth General Assembly of the United Nations and declared, "The emergence of this new world possesses a vital issue: will outer space be preserved for peaceful use and developed for the benefit of all mankind? Or will it become another focus of the arms race and thus an area of dangerous sterile competition?", little did he realize that someday his own country would basically nix intergalactic space exploration, including the possibilities of coming into contact with other "intelligent" forms of life, for a more short-sighted and myopic vision. It would be an unimaginative and violent quest to conquer and militarize inner space (Earth's atmosphere). His words were followed by his signature to launch the National Aeronautics Space Act of 1958 (NASA), a space program that would eventually become another tool of the Pentagon's Department of Defense (DOD), along with its goals to militarily be a dominant force around the world while silencing participatory democracy at home.
|Drones already cruising the skies over America|
Even a decade earlier, when NASA was formed and was supposed to be kept separate from the armed forces, unimaginative and militarized "space" narratives were being planned by the Pentagon. Scientists fiercely debated, even abhorred, the militarization of space exploration but soon lost civilian control of intergalactic and peaceful travel. Enormous amounts of funds and resources were spent on developing the Atlas Missile, an intercontinental ballistic projectile,(1) in hopes of arming spaceships and establishing interplanetary military outposts. In less than one minute into flight, the missile was destroyed. It was then that military planners realized they would need more civilian funding and more scientists, provided, of course, by NASA. A coordinated effort to militarize NASA was implemented. On the surface, it would be a peaceful civilian space program. But beneath, NASA would consistently be plagued, even hijacked, by wars, militarism, the National Security Council (NSC), and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
|Civilian victims of Predator drone strike|
Declassified information reveals that during the Korean War a major priority in developing space technologies was to deliver nuclear weapons in inner space. Even when Sputnik was launched in 1957, the Eisenhower Administration showed little concern, since it already had developed spy satellites. Still, the military elites fused NASA with national security in certain geopolitical regions of the world. At the same time, President John F. Kennedy's decision that the U.S. should enter, and win, the U.S.-Russia "space race," by landing a man on the moon, was to enhance national prestige(2) and to boast of the triumph of market economies over communism. The NSC was also lurking in the background, since it believed space capabilities were dual in nature, in the sense that, they can be employed for military as well as civilian purposes.(3) The same year NASA was created, so too was the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). It was the Pentagon's and DOD's own version of a militarized NASA, constituting how rearmament had been institutionalized.
ARPA believed space activities should only be of "intrinsic military value."(4) It also drained funds and scientists away from NASA, as did the U.S. war in Vietnam. After the lunar landing in 1969, President Richard Nixon approved only one of NASA's space programs. Human space flights to the moon, like Apollo, were deemed too expensive as compared to the wars being fought around the world. Therefore, Nixon's new space program was the inexpensive Shuttle, one that was for military and imperial purposes. At first, Nixon balked, but then Casper Weinberger convinced him that the Shuttle program meant the U.S. was not defeated, that it was not going to forgo its superpower status, and that America could maintain world superiority.(5) The Shuttle program was also a key to Nixon's reelection in 1972, since it would lead to new military-industrial jobs in states that were key. Again, NASA's Shuttle program had to be approved through the DOD, since the DOD wanted to use the Shuttle to launch all military payloads and spy satellites.
Throughout the next two decades, NASA operated on a restricted budget, as the U.S. continued to fight and fund dozens of major and minor armed engagements in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and in Central and Latin America. While Congress and President Jimmy Carter slashed funding for NASA and outer space explorations, in order to try and hold on to their colonies in Iran, Guatemala, El Salvador, and East Timor, and to militarily protect energy resources in the Persian Gulf, President Reagan initiated constructing the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars). Again, it was another multi-billion myopic vision to arm inner space, at the expense of outer space exploration, and to counter Russia.(6) Even the collapse of America's Cold War nemesis could not revitalize NASA's fledgling space program. NASA's spectacular planetary orbiter Magellan, which reached Venus in 1990, a tremendous feat in itself, was drowned out by Gulf War I, which was actually America's first "inner space war" and uninspired "militarized" final frontier.
The Pentagon used atmospheric space technologies and satellite systems to rain down destructive weapons on Iraq and kill its people. Meanwhile, many scientists and workers left NASA to join their peers, already laboring in massive and militarized corporations, like Martin Marietta, Raytheon, General Electric, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. Their aim was to build a new generation of enhanced versions of intercontinental ballistic missiles, such as the Phased Array Track Intercept of Target, the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared System for Night, and other new inner space weapons that could be used around the clock.(7) As funding and research for outer space explorations, including visions of someday making contact with new life forms, became more scarce, the Pentagon and DOD persuaded Americans of the need to dominate the Earth's atmosphere and supposed enemies. More wars and military engagements in the 1990's, mainly over energy resources, caused many to embrace an unimaginative, militarized space narrative.
Economic instability and budget deficits, due to Reaganomics, also forced Americans to turn inwards and away from intergalactic space exploration. The commercialized impulsivity to launch the Challenger and to put the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit-with a flawed primary mirror, mirrored a dystopian view of interstellar travel. President George W. Bush's devastating preemptive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have now done the same thing to NASA that the Vietnam War did. The military establishment has again seized billions of dollars from its space program, not to mention how once more it has organized a false perception and need to colonize and militarily dominate inner space. President Barack Obama's dream of a human space mission to Mars has been crucified on the cross of foreign military campaigns, only to be resurrected in atmospheric-like killer drones. They are mere symbols of how NASA has lost control over peaceful, civilian, and democratic intergalactic space travel. Personal contact of any kind is dull, unimaginative.
But killer drones also reflect a kind of sordid, technocratic, and electronic oriented combat environment where humanity has no experience, where lifeless subjects are destroyed.(8) Inner space predatory drones are terrifying weapons and will soon be developed into anti-democratic weapons of mass destruction. From now on, U.S. space exploration and travel will not consist of seeking out new civilizations or going boldly where no humans have gone before, but it will be limited to placing killer drones in the Earth's atmosphere, with capabilities of developing and employing the most effective means for carrying out various military objectives.(9) They will also be used by the Pentagon, DOD, NSC, CIA, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other federal and state agencies. While billions of dollars will be slashed from NASA over the next several years, plans are already being implemented to establish drone fleets over U.S. cities. There are 63 known sites that will launch hundreds of spy, predatory, and killer drones.(10)
For the U.S., Eisenhower's chilling scenario was never about the possibilities of outer space becoming another battleground of the arms race or militarily colonizing interstellar planets. The real dystopian visionaries, the ones that control structures of feelings and thoughts and future mythologies, or the Military-Industrial-Scientific-Academic Complex, were interested only in militarizing inner space. As the Pentagon, DOD, military commanders, and political leaders track-with their own spy satellite (Operationally Responsive Space Office or ORS-1) and killer drones-alleged enemies and suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Iran, and now the United States, not to mention the rest of the world, imaginative and future possibilities of human intergalactic travels, and of making contact with other life forms, are truly alien. Visions of New Worlds (wrongly named by egocentric beings) are still just an Old World wracked with greed, violence, a rapacious appetite for cheap energies and resources, and now a new kind of virtual, human-less war, one that causes unimaginable death and destruction.
Killer and predatory drones are symbols of inner space and the final "militarized," even lifeless, frontier. They are death from above and, of course, death from within.
Dallas Darling (email@example.com)
Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. You can read more of Dallas' writings at www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com//dallasdarling.
(1) Carlisle, Rodney P. Encyclopedia Of The Atomic Age., New York, New York: Facts on File, 2001., p. 17.
(2) Rizopoulos, Nicholas X. Encyclopedia Of U.S. Foreign Relations., New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997., p. 102.
(3) Ibid., p. 101.
(4) Ibid., p. 102.
(5) Ibid., p. 102.
(6) Ibid., p. 104.
(7) Harwood, William B. Raise Heaven And Earth, The Story of Martin Marietta People and Their Pioneering Achievements. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster Press, 1993., p. 535ff.
(8) Lapham, Lewis. "Are Data-Mining and Advertising Stripping Language of its Meaning?" http://www.alternet.org.
(9) Rizopoulos, Nicholas X. Encyclopedia Of U.S. Foreign Relations., p. 103.
(10) On Drone Launch Sites, see: