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Impact Turns Case – Militarization



Even with international barriers to space militarization, plan’s frontier discourse justifies expansionary policies creating dual-use tech and weaponization.

MacDonald, 2007

[Fraser McDonald, Lecturer in Human Geography at the School of Anthropology, Geography & Environmental Studies in the University of Melbourne, “Anti-Astropolitik: outer space and the



orbit of geography”, June 24, 2011,LMM]
The most striking aspect of the sociality of outer space is the extent to which it is, and always has been, thoroughly militarized. The 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty banned nuclear weapons in space, on the moon or on other celestial bodies, and contained a directive to use outer space ‘for peaceful purposes’. But its attempt to prohibit the ‘weaponizing’ of space was always interpreted in the loosest possible manner. The signatories to the OST in Washington, London and Moscow were in no doubt that space exploration was primarily about military strategy; that the ability to send a rocket into space was conspicuous evidence of the ability to dispatch a nuclear device to the other side of the world. This association remains strong, as the concern over Iran’s space programme (with its Shahab family of medium range missiles and satellite launch vehicles) makes clear. Several commentators in strategic affairs have noted the expanding geography of war from the two dimensions of land and sea to the air warfare of the twentieth century and more recently to the new strategic challenges of outer space and cyberspace (see for instance Gray, 2005: 154). These latter dimensions are not separate from the battle-‘field’ but rather they fully support the traditional military objectives of killing people and destroying infrastructure. Space itself may hold few human targets but the capture or disruption of satellites could have far-reaching consequences for life on the ground. Strictly speaking, we have not yet seen warfare in space, or even from space, but the advent of such a conflict does appear closer. In post-Cold War unipolar times the strategic rationale for the United States to maintain the prohibition against weaponising space is diminishing (Lambakis, 2003), even if the rest of the world wishes it otherwise. In 2000, a UN General Assembly resolution on the ‘Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space’ was adopted by a majority of 163-0 with 3 abstentions: the United States, Israel and the Federated States of Micronesia (United Nations, 2000). Less than two months later, a US Government committee chaired by Donald Rumsfeld5 issued a report warning that the ‘relative dependance of the US on space makes its space systems potentially attractive targets’; the United States thus faced the danger, it argued, of a ‘Space Pearl Harbor’ (Rumsfeld, 2001: viii). As space warfare was, according to the report, a ‘virtual certainty’, the United States must ‘ensure continuing superiority’ (Rumsfeld, 2001: viii). This argument was qualified by obligatory gestures towards ‘the peaceful use of outer space’ but the report left little doubt about the direction of American space policy. Any difficult questions about the further militarisation (and even weaponisation) of space could be easily avoided under the guise of developing ‘dual-use’ (military/civilian) technology and emphasising the role of military applications in ‘peace-keeping’ operations. Through such rhetoric, NATO’s satellite-guided bombing of a Serbian TV station on the 23rd April 1999 could have been readily accommodated under the OST injunction to use outer space for ‘peaceful purposes’ (Cervino, 2003). Since that time new theatres of operation have been opened up in Afghanistan and Iraq, for further trials of space-enabled warfare that aimed to provide aerial omniscience for the precision delivery of ‘shock and awe’. What Benjamin Lambeth has called the ‘accomplishment’ of air and space power, has since been called into question by the all too apparent limitations of satellite intelligence in the tasks of identifying Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction or in stemming the growing number of Allied dead and wounded from modestly-armed urban insurgents (Lambeth, 1999; Graham, 2004; Gregory, 2004: 205). For all its limitations, even this imagery has been shielded from independent scrutiny by the military monopolization of commercial satellite outputs (Livingstone and Robinson, 2003). And yet, far from undermining Allied confidence in satellite imagery or in a ‘cosmic’ view of war (Kaplan, 2006), it is precisely these abstract photocartographies of violence – detached from their visceral and bloodied ‘accomplishments’ – that have licenced the destruction of Fallujah (Gregory, 2004: 162; Graham, 2005b). There remains, of course, a great deal more that can be said about the politics of these aerial perspectives than can be discussed here (see, for instance, Gregory, 2004; Kaplan, 2006).

Impact Turns Case – Dual Use


Plan is not benign it is an extension of militarization that creates dual use technologies resulting in policy failure and new military platforms in space

MacDonald, 2007

[Fraser McDonald, Lecturer in Human Geography at the School of Anthropology, Geography & Environmental Studies in the University of Melbourne, “Anti-Astropolitik: outer space and the

orbit of geography”, June 24, 2011,LMM]
In this discussion so far, I have been drawing attention to geography’s recent failure to engage outer space as a sphere of enquiry and it is important to clarify that this indictment applies more to human than to physical geography. There are, of course, many bio-physical currents of geography that directly draw on satellite technologies for remote sensing. The ability to view the Earth from space, particularly through the Landsat programme, was a singular step forward in understanding all manner of Earth surface processes and biogeographical patterns (see Mack, 1990). The fact that this new tranche of data came largely from military platforms (often under the guise of ‘dual-use’) was rarely considered an obstacle to science. But as the range of geographical applications of satellite imagery have increased to include such diverse activities as urban planning and ice cap measurements, so too has a certain reflexivity about the provenance of the images. It is not enough, some are realising, to say “I just observe and explain desertification and I have nothing to do with the military”; rather scientists need to acknowledge the overall context that gives them access to this data in the first place (Cervino et al, 2003: 236). One thinks here of the case of Peru, whose US grant funding for agricultural use of Landsat data increased dramatically in the 1980s when the same images were found to be useful in locating insurgent activities of Maoist ‘Shining Path’ guerillas (Schwartz, 1996). More recently, NASA’s civilian Sea-Wide Field Studies (Sea-WiFS) programme was used to identify Taliban forces during the war in Afghanistan (Caracciolo, 2004). The practice of geography, in these cases as with so many others, is bound up with military logics (Smith, 1992); the development of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) being a much cited recent example (Cloud, 2001; 2002; Pickles, 1995; 2004; see Beck 2003 for a case study of GIS in the service of the ‘war on terror’).

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