Created on Sunday, 04 February 2007 07:55
Written by William Blum
by William Blum
Full Spectrum Dominance
It is not often that the empire is put in the position of one its victims, in fear of the military and technical prowess of another country, forced to talk of peace and cooperation, just as Iraq and others, hoping to put off an American attack, were forced to do over the years; just as Iran now. No, China is not about to attack the United States, but the Chinese shootdown of a satellite (an old weather satellite of theirs) in space on January 11, has made a US attack on China much more dangerous and much less likely; it's made the empire's leaders realize that they don't have total power to make any and all other nations do their bidding.
Here's how the gentlemen of the Pentagon have sounded in the recent past on the subject of space.
"We will engage terrestrial targets someday â€” ships, airplanes, land targets â€” from space. ... We're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space."
â€” General Joseph Ashy, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Space Command, 1996
"With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it, and we're going to keep it."
â€” Keith R. Hall, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space and Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, 1997
"US Space Command â€” dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict. ... During the early portion of the 21st century, space power will also evolve into a separate and equal medium of warfare. ... The emerging synergy of space superiority with land, sea, and air superiority will lead to Full Spectrum Dominance. ... Development of ballistic missile defenses using space systems and planning for precision strikes from space offers a counter to the worldwide proliferation of WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. ... Space is a region with increasing commercial, civil, international, and military interests and investments. The threat to these vital systems is also increasing. ... Control of Space is the ability to assure access to space, freedom of operations within the space medium, and an ability to deny others the use of space, if required."
â€” "United States Space Command: Vision for 2020", 1997
"Space represents a fundamentally new and better way to apply military force"
â€” U.S. Strategic Command, 2004
And now along comes China, with the ability to make all this proud talk
look somewhat foolish. At a State Department press briefing a week
after the shootdown, the department's deputy spokesman Tom Casey
stated, presumably without chuckling: "We certainly are concerned by
any effort, by any nation that would be geared towards developing
weapons or other military activities in space. ... We don't want to see
a situation where there is any militarization of space." He spoke of
the "peaceful use of space", and was concerned about the threat to
"modern life as we know it", because "countries throughout the world
are dependant on space based technologies, weather satellites,
communications satellites and other devices".
A reporter asked: "Has the United States conducted such a test destroying a satellite in space?"
Yes, said Casey, in 1985. But that was different because "there was a
Cold War that was being engaged in between the United States and the
Soviet Union" and there were much fewer satellites moving about
Cong. Terry Everett, senior Republican on the House armed services
subcommittee on strategic forces, said China's test "raises serious
concerns about the vulnerability of our space-based assets. ... We
depend on satellites for a host of military and commercial uses, from
navigation to ATM transactions."
Even prior to the Chinese test, the Washington Post pointed out: "For a
U.S. military increasingly dependent on sophisticated satellites for
communicating, gathering intelligence and guiding missiles, the
possibility that those space-based systems could come under attack has
become a growing worry. ... The administration insists that there is no
arms race in space, although the United States is the only nation that
opposed a recent United Nations call for talks on keeping weapons out
of space. ... Although the 1967 U.N. Outer Space Treaty, signed by the
United States, allows only peaceful uses of space, some believe that
the United States is moving toward some level of weaponization,
especially related to a missile defense system."
Tom Casey, the State Department spokesperson, tried his best to give
the impression that the United States has no idea why China would do
such a thing â€” "We would like to see and understand and know more about
what they're really trying to accomplish here." ... "exactly what their
intentions are" ... "questions that arise about what Chinese intentions
are" ... "not only the nature of what they've done, but the purpose and
But the United States can well imagine what China's intention was. The
Chinese were responding to the efforts of the Bush administration, and
the Clinton administration before them, to establish and maintain US
military supremacy in space and to use that supremacy as a threatening,
or actual, weapon. Beijing wished to put Washington on notice that in
any future conflict with China the United States will not be dealing
with Iraq or Afghanistan, or Yugoslavia, Panama or Grenada.
"But what did anyone expect?" asks Lawrence Martin, columnist for The
Globe and Mail of Canada. "For several years, China, Canada, and
virtually every country in the world have been urging the United States
to enter into an arms-control treaty for outer space. Leave the heavens
in peace, for god's sake. Come together and work something out. It's
called collective security. ... Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney showed no
interest in a space treaty.
Their national space policy is essentially
hegemony in the heavens. They oppose the development of new legal
regimes or other measures that restrict their designs. A UN resolution
to prevent an arms race in space was supported by 151 countries with
zero opposed. The U.S. abstained. It wants strategic control."
The ideology of the ruling class in any society is one that tries to depict the existing social order as "natural".
In 1972 I traveled by land from San Francisco to Chile, to observe and
report on Salvador Allende's "socialist experiment". One of the lasting
impressions of my journey through Latin America is of the strict class
order of the societies I visited. There are probably very few places in
the world where the dividing lines between the upper and middle classes
on the one hand and the lower class on the other are more distinct and
emotionally clung to, including Great Britain. In the Chilean capital
of Santiago I went to look at a room in a house advertised by a woman.
Because I was American she assumed that I was anti-Allende, the same
assumption she'd have made if I had been European, for she wanted to
believe that only "Indians", only poor dumb indÃgenas
and their ilk, supported the government. She was pleased by the
prospect of an American living in her home and was concerned that he
might be getting the wrong impression about her country. "All this
chaos," she assured me, "it's not normal, it's not Chile". When I
relieved her of her misconception about me she was visibly confused and
hurt, and I was a little uncomfortable as well, like I had betrayed her
trust. I made my departure quickly.
There's the classic Latin American story of the servant of a family of the oligarchy. He bought steak for his patrÃ³n's
dog, but his own family ate scraps. He took the dog to the vet, but
couldn't take his own children to a doctor. And complained not. In
Chile, under Allende, there was a terribly nagging fear amongst the
privileged classes that servants no longer knew their place. (In
Sweden, for some years now, they have been able to examine children of
a certain age â€” their height, weight, and various health measurements â€”
and are then not able to tell which social class the child is from;
they have ended class warfare against children.)
1980s, in Central America, servants rose up in much of the region
against their betters, the latter of course being unconditionally
supported with Yankee money, Yankee arms, even Yankee lives. At the end
of that decade the New York Times offered some snapshots of El
Over canapes served by hovering waiters at a party, a
guest said she was convinced that God had created two distinct classes
of people: the rich and people to serve them. She described herself as
charitable for allowing the poor to work as her servants. "It's the
best you can do," she said. The woman's outspokenness was unusual, but
her attitude is shared by a large segment of the Salvadoran upper
The separation between classes is so rigid that even small
expressions of kindness across the divide are viewed with suspicion.
When an American, visiting an ice cream store, remarked that he was
shopping for a birthday party for his maid's child, other store patrons
immediately stopped talking and began staring at the American. Finally,
an astonished woman in the check-out line spoke out. "You must be
kidding," she said.
The same polarization is taking place now in Venezuela as Hugo ChÃ¡vez
attempts to build a more egalitarian society. The Associated Press
(January 29, 2007) recently presented some snapshots from Caracas: A
man of European parents says that at his son's private Jewish school
some parents are talking about how and when to leave the country. The
man wants a passport for his 10-year-old son in case they need to leave
for good. "I think we're headed toward totalitarianism." A middle-class
retiree grimaces at what she sees coming: "Within one year, complete
communism. ... What he's forming is a dictatorship." The fact that
ChÃ¡vez is himself part indÃgena
and part black, and looks it, can well add to their animosity towards the man.
I wonder what such people think of George "I am the decider" Bush and
his repeated use of "signing statements", which effectively means a law
is what he says it is, no more, no less; his Patriot Act, and his
various assaults on the principle of habeas corpus, to name but a few
of the scary practices of his authoritarian rule.
Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator of the Washington-based
Nicaragua Network, was part of a group which visited Venezuela last
fall. Following is part of his report:
Venezuela is politically polarized. We witnessed the
extremes of this during a dinner with lawyer and author Eva Golinger.
Some very drunk opposition supporters recognized Golinger as author of
The ChÃ¡vez Code and a strong Chavez partisan. Some of them surrounded
our table and began screaming at Golinger and the delegation, calling
us "assassins" "Cubans," and "Argentines." The verbal abuse went on for
long minutes until waiters ejected the most out-of-control anti-ChÃ¡vez
woman. We were later told that she worked in the Attorney General's
office, highlighting one of the many contradictions arising from the
fact that ChÃ¡vez' Bolivarian revolution came into power democratically
through the ballot box rather than by force of arms. Armed revolutions
generally sweep opponents out of government jobs and places of
influence such as the media, but in Venezuela many in the opposition
are still in the civil service and most of the media is virulently
I admire Hugo ChÃ¡vez and what he's
trying to do in Venezuela, but I wish he wouldn't go out of his way to
taunt the Bush administration, as he does so frequently. Doesn't he
know that he's dealing with a bunch of homicidal maniacs? Literally.
Someone please tell him to cool it or he will endanger his social
Liberalism's best and brightest
A report in the Washington Post, headlined "Soldier's Death Strengthens
Senators' Antiwar Resolve", informs us that Senators Christopher Dodd
(D-Conn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) have been rather upset upon learning
of the death in Iraq of an Army Captain whom they met on a visit to the
country in December, and who made a strong impression upon them. Dodd
has been "radicalized", the story says, and Kerry has been "energized"
in his opposition to the war.
Why, it must be asked, does it take the death of someone they met by
chance to fire up their anti-war sentiments? Many millions of
Americans, and many millions more around the world, have protested the
war vehemently and passionately without having met any of the war's
victims. What do these protestors have inside of them that so many
members of Congress seem to lack?
"This was the kind of person you don't forget," said Dodd. "You mention
the number dead, 3,000, the 22,000 wounded, and you almost see the eyes
glaze over. But you talk about an individual like this, who was doing
his job, a hell of a job, but was also willing to talk about what was
wrong, it's a way to really bring it to life, to connect."
Dear reader, is it the same for you? Do your eyes glaze over when you read or hear about the dead and wounded of Iraq?
Neither senator has apparently been "energized" enough to call for the
immediate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. That would be too
This gap â€” emotionally and intellectually â€” between members of Congress
and normal human beings has been with us for ages of course. The
anti-Vietnam War movement burst out of the starting gate back in August
1964, with hundreds of people demonstrating in New York. Many of these
early dissenters took apart and critically examined the
administration's statements about the war's origin, its current
situation, and its rosy picture of the future. They found continuous
omission, contradiction, and duplicity, became quickly and wholly
cynical, and called for immediate and unconditional withdrawal.
was a state of intellect and principle it took members of Congress â€”
and then only a minority â€” until the 1970s to reach. The same can be
said of the mass media. And even then â€” even today â€” our political and
media elite viewed Vietnam only as a "mistake"; i.e., it was "the wrong
way" to fight communism, not that the United States should not be
traveling all over the globe to spew violence against anything labeled
"communism" in the first place. Essentially, the only thing these best
and brightest have learned from Vietnam is that we should not have
fought in Vietnam.
In the land where happiness is guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence
"Think raising the minimum wage is a good idea?"
That was the message of a full-page advertisement that appeared in
major newspapers in January. It was accompanied by statements of
approval from the usual eminent suspects:
"The reason I object to the minimum wage is I think it destroys jobs,
and I think the evidence on that, in my judgment, is overwhelming."
Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman
"The high rate of unemployment among teenagers, and especially black
teenagers, is both a scandal and a serious source of social unrest. Yet
it is largely a result of minimum wage laws." Milton Friedman, Nobel
Well, if raising the minimum wage can produce such negative
consequences, then surely it is clear what we as an enlightened and
humane people must do. We must lower
the minimum wage. And thus enjoy less unemployment, less social unrest.
Indeed, if we lower the minimum wage to zero, particularly for poor
blacks ... think of it! ... No unemployment at all! Hardly any social
unrest! In fact â€” dare I say it? â€” What if we did away with wages
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of
man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a
superior moral justification for selfishness."
-John Kenneth Galbraith
Some little-known items from my old files
Here is US General Thomas Power speaking in December 1960 about things
like nuclear war and a first strike by the United States: "The whole
idea is to kill
the bastards! At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one
Russian, we win!" The response from one of those present was: "Well,
you'd better make sure that they're a man and a woman."
Edward R. Murrow is of course a much-honored newsman and "legendary
broadcaster". There's the annual Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence
in Public Diplomacy, with nominations made by the State Department, and
there's the recent acclaimed film about Murrow, "Good Night, and Good
Luck", amongst many other tributes. In 1960, CBS aired "Harvest of
Shame", a documentary made by Murrow, which was lauded for exposing the
terrible abuses endured by migratory farm workers in the United States.
The following year Murrow left broadcasting to become the director of
the United States Information Agency, whose raison d'Ãªtre
was to make the United States look as good to the world as it does in
American high school textbooks. Thus it was that when the BBC planned
on showing "Harvest of Shame" in the UK, Murrow called them in an
effort to suppress the broadcast, saying it was for US domestic use
only. But the film was shown in the UK.
One could wax cynical about Jimmy Carter as well; for example, while in
the White House he tried hard to sabotage the Sandinista revolution in
Nicaragua; even worse, Carter supported the Islamic opposition to the
leftist Afghanistan government in 1979, which led to a decade of very
bloody civil war, the Taliban, and anti-American terrorism in the
United States and elsewhere. However, I think that overall Carter was
closer to a decent human being than any post-World War Two president.
In 1978 he invited 1960s anti-war activist and leader of Students for a
Democratic Society (SDS), Tom Hayden, to the White House. (Think George
W inviting Michael Moore.) As recounted by Hayden, in their private
conversation he said to Carter: "You are the elected President of the
United States, yet I'm concerned that you have less power than the
chairmen of the boards of the large multinational corporations â€” men we
don't elect or even know."
"After looking pensively out the Oval Office window, President Carter
nodded and said, 'I believe that's right. I've learned that these last
 "Aviation Week and Space Technology" (New York), August 5, 1996, p.51
 Speaking to the National Space Club (Washington, DC), September 15, 1997
 Excerpts are in the same sequence as found in the August 1997 brochure beginning on page 1.
 March 2004, www.stratcom.mil/fact_sheets/fact_sm.html. In 2002, the
U.S. Space Command was merged with the U.S. Strategic Command.
 State Department Press Briefing, January 19, 2007, www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2007/79056.htm
 Associated Press, January 19, 2007
 Washington Post, December 17, 2006; p.12
 See note 5
 January 25, 2007 p.A19
 New York Times, October 7, 1990, p.10
 For the full report of October 28, 2006, see www.vensolidarity.org
 Washington Post, January 30, 2007, p.3
 To see the advertisement â€” www.MinimumWage.org
 Fred Kaplan, "The Wizards of Armageddon" (1983), p.246
 Google <murrow "harvest of shame" bbc>
 San Francisco Chronicle, March 4, 1978
William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire
Portions of the books can be read, and copies purchased, at http://www.killinghope.org