Friday, October 20, 2006

Paleocon takes on Neocon

Pat Buchanan again shows us the difference between old fashioned conservatism and so-called neo conservatism (see, On the necessity of freedom from religion). This time he takes them on in the context of the "Bush doctrine", which near as Guambat can figure is the notion that you can bully anyone you like so long as you pick on someone who doesn't have much punch.

In this opinion piece, IS THE BUSH DOCTRINE DEAD?, Buchanan says:
Between Sept. 11, 2001, and his State of the Union Address in 2002, George W. Bush had America in the palm of his hand.

But in that speech, Bush blew it. Singling out Iran, Iraq and North Korea as state sponsors of terror seeking weapons of mass destruction, Bush yoked them together in an "axis of evil" and issued this ultimatum: "I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

Neoconservatives celebrated this bellicosity as neo-Churchillian. Yet all it accomplished was to fracture the U.S. and foreign coalitions that had united behind Bush. As some of us wrote at the time, to call Iran and Iraq, mortal enemies in the eight-year war of the '80s that took a million lives, an "axis" was absurd.

Bush's speech was a blunder of the first magnitude. First, he had no authority to attack any of those nations, as Congress had not authorized war. Second, he had neither the plans nor forces in place to do so. Yet he had put all three on notice this was what he had in mind.

When the United States invaded Iraq, North Korea and Iran got the message. Both accelerated their nuclear programs.

By issuing public ultimatums, Bush left these regimes no way out. Even tiny Serbia felt its national honor required it to fight rather than submit to a U.S. ultimatum to let NATO march through the country to occupy Kosovo.

Now Kim Jong-Il, though his July 4 test of the Taepodong-2 missile seems to have Roman-candled and his plutonium bomb may have misfired, has openly defied the Bush Doctrine. Arguably the world's worst regime has acquired the world's worst weapon.

Bush's response? He went to the United Nations to plead for sanctions.

Because of the bluster-and-bluff of President Bush, the United States is today eyeball-to-eyeball with Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs, and neither of these regimes appears ready to blink.

Great though its crimes, Kim's regime will never equal in evil those of Josef Stalin or Mao, both of whom had nuclear arsenals greater than Kim can ever achieve -- and America never went to war with either.

Meanwhile, put the bellicose bluster on the shelf. It has done less than nothing to advance America's security.

Now, lest Guambat's mum entertain her worst fear and think that Guambat is crawling into the same swag as Buchanan, Guambat does not endorse Buchanan's goals or methods. But he does enjoy the jousting that occassionally goes on in the Dark Side of the Force. Guambat reckons there's plenty to be learned from all quarters.

And whilst on the subject of Bush and other neocon doctrines, how positively silly is the latest US claim to the universe?! Long live the USofA to infinity and beyond!

The AsiaTimes reports, US turns space into its colony
President George W Bush signed an executive order creating a new National Space Policy on Wednesday. The most crucial feature of this policy is that it "rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit US flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone 'hostile to US interests'." It adds: "The United States will preserve its rights, capabilities and freedom of action in space ... and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests."

... So, the policy sends unmistakable signals to Russia, China and India - the first a veteran space power; the latter fledgling actors in that realm - that the United States intends to monopolize its long-standing space presence by militarizing it.

The Bush administration continues to deny that it has any intention of militarizing space. However, there is ample evidence to conclude otherwise.

What concerns international observers and America's potential competitors in space is that the US refuses to negotiate a space arms-control accord. Its rationale is that no such agreements are needed, because there is no space arms race. However, the US Air Force has published a Counterspace Operations Doctrine, which "calls for a more active military posture in space", and says that protecting US satellites and spacecraft may require "deception, disruption, denial, degradation and destruction". [See, too, The Ten Truths.]

What also bothers America's competitors is that, during the Bill Clinton administration, the US was willing to abide by treaty obligations regarding freedom of action in space. The Bush administration is willing to do the same. However, it has declared that it "will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit US access to or use of space".

There is little doubt that the space arms race is on. Right now, the US is soft-peddling its profound predilection to make sure that it stays way ahead of the game. However, like in all realms of scientific activities, there is no doubt that its predominance will be seriously challenged. China may be the country that leads in closing that gap within the next decade or so. When it does, there is little doubt that China will be as much preoccupied with having its own share of militaristic presence as the United States.

From the Huffington Post, we get Neocons in Space: Pre-emptive War Goes Interplanetary
Welcome to a radical new vision of space and the future, from the same crowd that brought you Iraq. In a little-noted policy document, the Bush Administration has unilaterally declared its right to conduct pre-emptive attacks on foreign spacecraft and on any objects or installations that might support them from the ground. It has also declared its opposition to international treaties that might restrict space exploration to primarily peaceful purposes.

These policies could have disastrous consequences right here on Earth someday.

They've also committed themselves to privatizing government space projects, an initiative that could hand billions more tax dollars to the usual set of government beneficiaries. And they emphasize nuclear power in space....

But the new directive's biggest change from previous space policies is in its emphasis on war. While it supports some positive goals, its militaristic statements have the effect of declaring a "New Space Order."

One thing the world should have learned by now is to take the syndicate now in power at its word. Their blue-sky academic exercises in re-imagining the Middle East led to a catastrophic war in Iraq. Theoretical discussions about abrogation of American rights resulted in the creation of barbed-wire 'Free Speech Zones,' the dismantling of habeus corpus, and the assertion of a unilateral right to spy on our country's own citizens.

That means that a recent Presidential Directive on National Space Policy (warning: .pdf file) should be considered a serious declaration of purpose.

The Administration is asserting its right to deny any country its own space-based defense capability, while continuing to pour millions into this technology (which has proved spectacularly unsuccessful to date).

Only a few countries are capable of implementing such technology right now, the likeliest of which is Russia. The President's claim represents, in effect, a re-establishment of the Cold War and a declaration of his unilateral right to move beyond the spirit of those treaties that helped end it.

The Directive also dismisses the central role of treaties in preserving peaceful coexistence in space....

There are good arguments to be made for taking an aggressive (excuse me, 'assertive') stand in favor of our right to conduct espionage and other defense-related activities from space-based platforms. But it's a long leap from that position to the one in this Directive, which closes the door on future agreements that might be in the interests of the U.S.

This Directive is yet another example of contempt for diplomacy, and for a lack of skill and knowledge in the field of negotiation. (See Kathleen Reardon.) Strong and smart negotiators don't telegraph their position before starting to talk, nor do they box themselves into a corner with bellicose statements.

Even from a hawkish point of view, the bellicose statements are foolish. If you perceive a real threat at some point, you can always choose to act. But warlike statements only serve to limit a government's options - or to make it appear weak should it choose not to act.

The underlying purpose of the Directive, however, is to declare a "New American Century" and assume the rights of empire - in this case, in space.

[T]he U.S. space program must now use the same procurement policies that brought you Halliburton, Blackwater, lost billions in Iraq, and faulty body armor. If nothing else, the [neocon] Republicans are consistent to a fault in their desire to enrich a small group of contractors.

There are some good things in the Directive, too. The development of a healthy private-sector space industry is, in fact, a good goal for U.S. public policy - provided that it's balanced by strong oversight and supported with public-sector research that's available to all Americans.

The Directive encourages the development of more American space professionals, and emphasizes stronger research and development initiatives. These are also excellent objectives....

When it comes to the militaristic threats and plans, however, it's important to take it very seriously when the [neocon] Republicans make statements of this kind. Day after day they're working in think tanks across the country, envisioning the world as they'd like to see it. [See, e.g., PNAC] Then they put their theories into action in the real-world. This Directive is a glimpse into their thinking. Therefore, it's a glimpse of a possible dark future where pre-emptive space conflict triggers earthbound war - possibly with a nuclear superpower.

Until that vision is articulated and implemented, however, take note: today's policy statement is tomorrow's reality.

The South African Mail & Guardian reports, Bush issues doctrine for US control of space:
United States President George Bush has staked out a bold claim to the final frontier, asserting vigorously the country's right to deny access to space to any adversary hostile to US interests, it emerged on Wednesday.

In a muscular overhaul of policy, the US president outlines the importance of space to the national interest, saying its domination is as crucial to to their defences as air or sea power.

The order also opposes the establishment of arms control treaties that would restrict US access to space, or set limits on its use of space. It calls for the development of space capabilities to support US intelligence and defence initiatives.

The document, first reported in Wednesday's Washington Post, amounted to the first overhaul of US space policy in nearly a decade, but it comes two years after the publication of an air force doctrine on protecting US satellites and spacecraft. The Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has also favoured the development of systems to protect satellites and space stations.

It goes on to stress that space activities have improve life in the US and around the world, enhancing security and economic growth and "revolutionising the way people view their world and the cosmos".

Ron Fullwood quotes from President/General Eisenhower in preface to his OpEd piece, North Korea Drives Bush Into Outer Space"
"The emergence of this new world poses 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 for the arms race-and thus an area of dangerous and sterile competition? The choice is urgent. And it is ours to make." --Eisenhower

[President Bush] doesn't want to stop North Korea from playing with their nukes just yet. Bush only has a few years left to launch his original scheme to yoke our military defense resources to a new generation of aerospace industry boondoggles. N. Korea's aggression could be just the ticket Bush is looking for.

It's no surprise that Bush would feel entitled to "respond" to N. Korea. His entire defense strategy was designed around a hypothetical nuclear missile threat from N. Korea and China. Back in the 2000 campaign - when Iran was at the bottom of their fearmongering flow chart - Bush's foreign policy team, the Vulcans, was huddled around their PNAC documents like pledges parsing over their fraternity charter. Condi was there, leading the likes of Perle and Wolfowitz to their ultimate hijacking of our defense resources as their collective zeal and greed to latch on to our nation's defense dollars led the group to invent ways to spark and ignite confrontations with contrived adversaries. 'Axis of evil' was their invention. A gullible nation and a weak and compliant Congress gave rise to the army of global muckrakers who would turn the world against our country, and encourage those who would resist their imperious advance to fashion extreme defenses to match against America's latest brand of extremism.

Of course, there exists the possibility that President Bush actually assembled the Pentagon's recent pack of aerospace executives to run his foreign policy in his own anticipation of a credible 'space threat', to deter a future assault on our nation's security. What foresight he must have had from his Texas ranch. What of it, if executives and shareholders in the space industry happen to rape of our treasury to fulfill their own hunger to dominate military and commercial space? There seems to be no limit to aerospace ambitions. The administration is pushing ahead with the expansion of the military space program, despite the limitations of the nation's weak economy and the adoption of many other costly 'priorities' for the armed forces.

As Fullwood's shrill epitomizes, it is easy to get cynically carried away with this "Where no man will go before us" notion.

Realistically, space is just another dimension, as the vast seas once were, that must be factored and understood in any nation's pursuit of security. But, as maritime history has shown, there is a greater degree of security and prosperity that comes from mutuallity than exclusivity.


Blogger Guambat's Mom said...

Guambat, I was heartened to see that you took Pat Buchanan's side versus that of Herr Bush. Pure old-fashioned Convervatism, even Pat's often off-the-wall kind, looks positively benign compared to the Neocons- or as some call them- the Pnackers.

Now that Bush is laying claim to outerspace, we'll probably see him dressed like Luke Skywalker next, but we'll know his intent is that of Darth Vader.

Guambat's loving Mom

29 October 2006 at 8:07:00 am GMT+10  

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