Published January 8, 2022 by Nan Mykel

ANSWER: George Orwell, according to the copy of his novel 1984 which I just lifted from my library’s free shelf.  The 1961 Harcourt Signet Classics edition contains  an Afterword by Erich Fromm, in which Fromm writes that the novel expresses a mood of “near despair about the future of man, and the warning that unless the course of history changes, men [and women also?] all over the world will lose their most human qualities, will become soulless automatons, and will not even be aware of it. ”

Although Orwell envisioned his scenario as occuring by 1984,  we might reflect on the current inroads against democracy as well as the spectre of climate change and military unrest during the worst and yet continuing pandemic in history.  Neither Fromm nor Orwell/Blair become concerned about the military uses of  outer space.  About Orwell’s concerns regarding war, Fromm observes that: “He shows the economic significance of continuous arms production, without which the economic system cannot function”….”and gives an impressive picture of how a society must develop which is constantly preparing for war, constantly afraid of being attacked, and preparing to find the means of complete annihilation of  its opponents.”

Shifting to 2022: Harper’s’ November cover story is the “Coming Battle Over Space,” by Rachel Riderer.  In it, Riderer quotes Laura Grego, a technical  expert for the Woomera, an independent team of scholars, government officials, and other space and legal experts from around the world that is drafting a rule book for military conduct in space, including for times of war.  “The risk comes at a time when civilian dependence on satellites–for intenet services, cell signals, weather monitoring, geo-location–is higher than ever, and and American military reliance on satellites is near total.  The military’s space-based systems underpin everything: communications, surveillance, guided munitions, nuclear command and control, and more,” Grego says.

[Back to Basics:  At its root, the name of the new rule book — Woomera–is after an aboriginal  word for the hooked rod used to propel a spear.  The more things change the more they stay the same?]

In her Harper’s article Riderer reports that the orbital belts surrounding Earth are  a crowded highway of around seven thousand satellites, moving at speeds of up to seventeen thousand miles an hour, many for civilian and military purposes.

Professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College Joan Johnson-Freesea has written a new book, Space Warfare in the 21st Century, and is quoted as saying that “If things were bad…and there’s a major conflict, I think it’s no-holds-barred. Because the U.S. has the most to lose.”

General John W. “Jay” Reynolds  is Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force, which was established in late December, 2019 and is under the Departmen of the Air Force. In September, 2019, 300  airmen were transferred to the Space Force.  According to General Reynolds, the world’s new “war-fighting architecture” demands a new design.  Among goals of the new militay design are to “destroy, nullify, or reduce” adversarial menaces in space, especially by deterrence through the flexing of enormous military muscle.”

A bone of contention on the horizon may be the fact that although a ruling by the Outer Space Treaty body mandates that celestial bodies “are not subject to national appropriation in any way,”  the United States’ position is that the extraction and use of of resources on the moon and other celestial bodies does not violate that nonappropriation principle.”  The United States’ position appears to be that pieces of the moon, for instance–should not be treated as the property of the whole international community.

Is it any wonder that two U.S. billionaire industrialists  have already left footprints in space–Jeff Besos and Elon Musk?  A third, Sir Richard Branson, apparently an Englishman, may cause a wrinkle unless he becomes a U.S. citizen?  [My own wild guess]

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