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Reacting to the space policy reaction

The national space policy quietly introduced by the Bush Administration early this month generated—eventually—a strong reaction in many editorials, which criticized the White House for appearing to endorse the weaponization of space as well as making it national policy to deny space to any future adversaries. An example of such an editorial is one that appeared in the pages of the Berkshire Eagle in western Massachusetts about a week ago. In this week’s issue of The Space Review, Taylor Dinerman critiques (or, perhaps more accurately, rips apart) that particular editorial, seeing it as reflective of many other similar editorials. The debate about the policy has died down for now (and maybe for good), but this is an interesting analysis of some of the arguments used in opposition of the policy.

18 comments to Reacting to the space policy reaction

  • Interesting indeed, since the policy is not really all that different from those of the past. The tone of the policy is noticeably more belligerent, however, though not surprising given the source.

  • Tone counts, however. I consider this another in a long chain of international idiocies from this Administration. They had to have known that this would not go over well with many of our allies, let alone our enemies. Picking unnecessary fights with even with our enemies, and especially with people who are not our enemies, strikes me as extremely poor foreign policy.

    – Donald

  • Regarding another article in today’s Space Review, I look forward to the second half of Dwayne Day’s analysis of President John Kennedy’s opinions on spaceflight. I hope he brings in Mr. Johnson’s influence. I would guess that, to retreat from Apollo, Mr. Kennedy would have to override the wishes of his Vice President. Does anyone have any thoughts about the nature of the relationship between Messrs Kennedy and Johnson?

    – Donald

  • Mark R Whittington

    “Does anyone have any thoughts about the nature of the relationship between Messrs Kennedy and Johnson?”

    Rather chilly. And LBJ and Bobby detested each other. Rumor has it that Johnson was going to be dropped from the ticket in 64.

  • RBarry

    This is the usual pre-election meringue whipped up by the media about 1 week after the doc was released on a Friday afternoon. Space policy from Clinton to Bush isn’t all that different except Bush is saying it now. Any American President not prepared to fight and win in space will have an impeachment on their head in the aftermath.

  • Mark R Whittington

    RBarry, why would you say that? There are plenty of politicians who are not prepared to fight and win on Earth against a real enemy.

  • wmt

    Will anyone think about non-war implications of the space policy? Like W-Band internet communication, Power Beaming, Space Tugs?

  • Ferris Valyn

    Its worthwhile to separate this into 2 parts – the military aspect, and the manned aspect. The manned aspect first
    1 – Why is it people in the space community (espicially conscervitives) are surprized that liberals practically hate anything with a bush label? After Columbia, and VSE came out, there was something of a full-throttle rush to join up and be with bush. But the simple fact is, Democrats and liberals not only hate Bush, but Bush has caused us to distrust anything and everything our government does. Yes, he may have (and I stress may have, since there is by no means a sure thing) gotten us out of Earth orbit, but he has been no great savior to the space program. The simple fact is, until Columbia, space wasn’t even on their radar, and even after Columbia, its not like they’ve provided any great infusion of money to Nasa, or anything. Nasa has been forced to cut programs, so it can pursue exploration, and even then, it hasn’t been able to pursue real long term space policy. Funding for the Centennial Challenges is such that no new challenges can be funded. But, because the space community (and to be far, it wasn’t the entire community, but there were/are vast groups who did) totally and fully embraced Bush almost on par with that of a messiah because of VSE, now that the Bush house of cards is starting to fall, don’t be surprized that some of the good things like COTS in particular, and NASA manned flight in general, are going to be facing problems. Bush is conservative, I get that and appriciate that. The problem isn’t just that – the problem is Bush has consistantly said that liberals and democrats are unpatriotic, that we hate families, that we have no morals or ethics – that effectively we are equal or worse than Al-Queda. Both his attitude and his tone have always been “Its my way or the highway”. Yes, most presidents have always tried to get everything they want, and probably many of them had their minds made up before they meet with other governmental officials or advisors. But they would always at least try to seem like they were listening to the person. That has not been and is not the case with this president.

    In some respects, I see similiar parallels to the shuttle program and the military, and Orion and Bush.

    The simple fact is, at the end of the day, they only reason Bush has done much of anything on space is because he couldn’t ignore it. I mean, lets assume for a moment that a Columbia style accident had happened during Clinton’s administration, or that Rutan’s SpaceshipOne flew (or actually, assume both) – do you think you would’ve seen something vastly differentt than what we have? Yes, I know there are a few people who claim Clinton would’ve killed the space program. But the truth is, even if he had wanted to (something which I see no evidence of) kill the space program, he would’ve succeeded no more successfully than alt-space has been in trying to change it. There are too many major interests in keeping the program as is.

    2 – Concerning the militarization aspect and ABM – the current ABM is NOT better than nothing. The current ABM (and frankly, my suspcion is that a lot of conservatives, if not people in general) is to recreate the safety that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans provided for us during the 1800s and to a certain degree, the first part of the 20th Century. Had we choosen an ascent system, I can see that as helping to defuse situations, and ascent phases are easier to hit. But this idea that it can somehow keep us safer – it can’t. Just because countries can’t hit us with missles, doesn’t mean that we can’t still face the possiblity of nuclear attacks. I am most reminded of the book Storming Intreped for the response (although many other people have discussed things like suitcase nuclear bombs)

    3 – Donald already touched on tone. The idea that tone doesn’t count, espcially with this president, well, is at best idiotic and delusional, and at worse, a complete and total lie.

  • Ferris Valyn

    One other thing – Phil Smith said
    The tone of the policy is noticeably more belligerent, however, though not surprising given the source.

    Is that somehow to be seen as a good thing?

  • Nemo

    1 – Why is it people in the space community (espicially conscervitives) are surprized that liberals practically hate anything with a bush label?

    No one is surprised that liberals hate Bush. What surprises me is that anyone would use that to rationalize opposing a space policy they’d otherwise support, just to avoid the appearance of supporting Bush. That’s juvenile and petty.

    JRF

  • Ferris Valyn

    No one is surprised that liberals hate Bush. What surprises me is that anyone would use that to rationalize opposing a space policy they’d otherwise support, just to avoid the appearance of supporting Bush. That’s juvenile and petty.

    It shouldn’t
    Point 1 – to a certain degree, thats politics, and par for the course. Don’t believe me, look at the discussion of health care in the early 90s – a bipartisan bill could have addressed some of the real problems, except the Republicains didn’t want to give the Democrats a victory going into the mid-terms.
    Point 2 – Bush (and to a certain degree, the conservative media, yes, ITS CONSERVATIVE) has done similiar things to liberals and democrats, on a scale that surpasses what has been done in past.
    Point 3 – He has so screwed things up that anything he has touched in the government is suspect (why do you think the dems are going to open investagation after investagation when we retake the house and the Senate)

  • Nemo: What surprises me is that anyone would use that to rationalize opposing a space policy they’d otherwise support, just to avoid the appearance of supporting Bush. That’s juvenile and petty.

    This relative liberal does hate most of Mr. Bush’s policies with a passion, but I fully agree Nemo’s statement. (It is worth noting, though, that conservatives did just that regarding Mr. Clinton.) Everyone on all sides needs to step back and separate policy from personality, and support desirable policies no matter where they come from. That is the only way we are going to get beyond “gridlock” and actually solve some of the problems our nation faces, not least what to do with human spaceflight.

    – Donald

  • Ferris Valyn

    Donald, I appriciate that – the problem is, I go back, when you put idealoges in power, who demand idealogical purity, the idea of compromise disappears. And it was not the liberals and dems who put the idealoges in power (yes, we’ve had to respond with that to a certain degree, but we did not draw first blood). If and when Bush in particular and Conserveratives in general want to have discussion and debate, and allow for compromise, we’ll be here. Until then – nothing will happen.

  • Nemo

    Mr. Valyn:
    Point 1 – to a certain degree, thats politics, and par for the course. Don’t believe me, look at the discussion of health care in the early 90s – a bipartisan bill could have addressed some of the real problems, except the Republicains didn’t want to give the Democrats a victory going into the mid-terms.

    Mr. Robertson:
    (It is worth noting, though, that conservatives did just that regarding Mr. Clinton.)

    Both of you are forgetting Clinton’s major accomplishments: NAFTA, GATT, and welfare reform, all of which were the result of Republican cooperation with the Clinton administration. The Republicans definitely didn’t oppose policies they supported just because Clinton would get the credit.

    Regarding health care, HillaryCare[TM] was crafted by a secret committee, and presented as a finished product wrapped up with a bow on top. There was no opportunity for compromise; none was offered. It was definitely not a case of Republicans turning against a policy they’d have supported if anyone but Clinton offered it – the Clinton plan was anathema to what the party stood for. The failure of that plan resulted in the Republican congressional takeover in 1994. Clinton learned from that experience and went on to craft the NAFTA, GATT, and welfare reform compromises I listed above.

    Bush continues to display the same arrogance as the 93-94 Clinton, so there’s a potential lesson for him in the above, should he care to learn it.

  • Nemo, I actually agree with most of the above, though there are a number of counter-examples — e.g., the way export controls on civilian satellites were handled, in which Republicans shot a key American industry in the foot for no better reason than to embarrass the Clinton Administration. Nonetheless, I accept your corrections, and I certainly agree with your last statement about Mr. Bush. I think one key problem that the current Administration has is that essentially everything Mr. Bush does is handled the way Mrs. Clinton tried to handle health care.

    – Donald

  • Nemo

    I actually agree with most of the above, though there are a number of counter-examples — e.g., the way export controls on civilian satellites were handled, in which Republicans shot a key American industry in the foot for no better reason than to embarrass the Clinton Administration.

    I agree, that’s a good counterexample, and one that’s actually relevant to space policy.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Nemo and Donald – to a point we do agree. Yes, Bush displays an arrogance. But every president has arrogance (they should, after all, they are president). No, this has moved beyond arrogance.

    When a person, any person, continually demands total and absolute agreement on every issue, and has been totally wrong so many times, there comes a point when you realize that it is more dangerous to leave him in power, and that the only way he will go is if you wrestle each and every piece of power from him. And that means that in the short term, things like NASA will get damaged. Because, yes, with his name on it, we can’t agree to it. With his name on it, it leaves some level of power in his hands. And with power in his hands there can be no discussion or compromise on any issue. Not by our choice, but by his. When someone demands that you stand totally with them, or totally against them, that person stands alone ultimately.

    He has moved beyond gridlock gentlemen – we have entered the political equivalent of open warfare. I only hope it doesn’t end with true warfare.

  • Nemo

    And that means that in the short term, things like NASA will get damaged. Because, yes, with his name on it, we can’t agree to it.

    In other words, yes, you admit you’re going to oppose a policy you’d otherwise support because Bush’s name on it.

    Childish and petty. Case closed.