Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Toothless Bear Growls Again

Russia continues its recent pattern of scare tactics:
Russia's military space commander vowed to retaliate with an arms race if any country started putting weapon systems into orbit, he said in remarks published on Wednesday.

"We need to have strong rules about space, to avoid its militarization and if any country will place a weapon in space, then our response will be the same," Space Forces Commander Colonel-General Vladimir Popovkin told the newspaper Trud.

I know that there is a strong sentiment out there against the militarization of space, but the realist in me says that it is unavoidable. Space wasn't militarized from the 60's to the 90's because: A) The USSR/Russia knew it couldn't compete with us and would lose any space militarization race B) We had little desire to militarize something that did not need military presence C) The technology and the sophistication wasn't their yet to do it at anything less than astronomical costs. All of that is changing now, though. Except for A. With China showing great interest in militarizing space, we leave our satellite dependent society very vulnerable if we are not prepared to do the same. Additionally, the next space race may be one with economic benefits, and as such there will inevitably be national conflict over space "turf". And the technology is there and space programs seem to be developing into more sophisticated programs that involve long term human presence in space and on other heavenly bodies, making a military presence more realistic than in the days of less than one week orbits and months spent confined to a space station.

Russia is rattling its sabers on this for the exact same reason it agreed to co-operate with us in space during the Cold War and for the same reason that it agreed to space being a demilitarized zone in the first place-because they know they cannot compete with us or the Chinese. If you can't do, then you can't lose much by trying to scare.

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