Friday, 19 January 2007

Planet Earth joins the Star Wars

More acronyms than nuclear weapons

When President Ronald Reagan launched the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) popularly known as Star Wars, many wondered about the militarisation of space and the consequences for peace.

We were still in the Cold War and though Russia and America were beginning to point less weapons at each other under the SALT treaties SALT I and SALT II which became START and then the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), one did wonder if the limitations in the use of nuclear weapons had not become a proliferation of multi-letter acronyms of the same agreements rehashed every few years to maintain the similitude of relevance to the world at large whilst others did their thing.

My gun is bigger

At least the impression people have had is that except in times of war, when any belligerent sovereignty wanted to flex their well-oiled Schwarzenegger muscles in some sophisticated arms, they had the common courtesy of informing their colleagues in this facile beauty contest of their intentions to test.

Greenpeace goes into overdrive, all the leftwing anti-nuclear groups excite their proxies in all political and news forums, some governments pronounce caution no condemnation, the UN does a bit of sabre-rattling coupled with an African rain dance and when enough publicity has been gained for the event, the test goes ahead as planned; condemnation follows displeasure, probably a boycott and sanctions in tow but nothing seriously binding.

The country proves its mettle and a tick goes into the acknowledgement register of all other countries that they are no more to be trifled with; such is the power of gun-boat diplomacy.

Get your gun, Xian

Little did we know that Star Wars did not have to cost that much and follow all that rigmarole of unnecessary protocols; simply find an ageing weather satellite and shoot it down, as China did.

China sent up an anti-satellite ballistic system to destroy the satellite; America, Australia and Canada have already criticised China for taking out the ageing man-made object which was put into orbit in 1999, others are supposed to follow suit very soon as news breaks across the globe.

As it transpired, “The US believes China's development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of co-operation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area”, if I read that right, it would appear someone forgot to put the agreement on paper, hence nothing about the letter of co-operation regarding conduct in the civil space area.

Next time you see a shooting star, just remember, the earth has now joined the Star Wars and it is China that did it first.

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