Archive for July, 2009


July 29, 2009


One ought to be grateful to the University of Kentucky Press for publishing Dr. Steven Lambakis’ On the Edge of Earth – The Future of American Space Power (Lexington, 2001, 365 pages). It is one of the most important geopolitical books published in later years. The fact that it appeared just before September 11, 2001, does not lessen the importance of this work

America is fighting a global war against international terrorism in alliance with much of the civilized world. One can only hope that these wars do not halt the building of American space power. There are great geopolitical risks involved in attacks on American satellites and China has publicly several times declared that it is seeking antisatellite weapons.

Dr. Lambakis correctly pointed out in his book that GPS satellites, for instance, are increasingly valuable to United States warfare capability. Harm to these satellites would severely lessen American military strength. Space is already militarized and what seems now inevitable is force projection from space. Satellites can be used for much besides communication. They are present over battle areas which is difficult to deny. They pass repeatedly and frequently, so that force application using them would have both a strategical and tactical effectiveness. The force can be applied anywhere rapidly, with minimal risks to U.S. forces, and at all levels of conflict. Satellites move at a speed of 25,000 mph, thus with the advantage of enjoying complete surprise. So why not use satellites to enhance warfare capability?

Next Generation Bombers

The next generation of bombers, in the eyes of many analysts, seems to offer planes that can fly at supersonic (Mach 1 to Mach 5) or hypersonic (Mach 5 to Mach 25) speeds. They would make the entire world reachable for attack from any point and completely reshape the geography of surface warfare. But developing these bombers would be costly, so why not prepare vehicles that can attack from space?

Space Maneuver Vehicle (SMV) and Space Operations Vehicle (SOV)

The next step could be the space maneuver vehicle (SMV). It would be able to deliver lethal and nonlethal power while a suborbital space operations vehicle (SOV) would be capable of striking targets anywhere on Earth in less than sixty minutes. Such a vehicle could make it possible to facilitate lightning strikes against WMD storage and production facilities and associated platforms. There would also be a chance to wreak havoc against bases of terrorism. Additionally it is necessary to find solutions to the problem of defeating “hard and deeply buried targets”.

Speed-of-light, or directed energy, weapons also hold intriguing possibilities. Space-based interceptors are important as well. They may use kinetic energy or directed energy systems to destroy in-flight theater ballistic missiles soon after launch, like the space-based laser (SBL).

High-Power Electromagnetic Weapons (HPM)

Particle beam or high-power electromagnetic (HPM) weapons could be directed against other space or terrestrial objects to disrupt and destroy the target internally. HPM weapons may blow out, jam, spoof, and distrupt electronic equipment on earth or in space as well as disseminate disinformation.

Space-control capabilities include surveillance of space, a daunting task. Here sites outside the United States are important (in Mexico, Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territories), Greenland, and the United Kingdom). It is also in the future necessary to incapacitate satellites.

A problem in the 1990s was a U.S. Presidency and a Congress dominated by Democrats. A number of senators and congressmen made efforts to stop programs to develop weapons for space. Since the beginning of 2009 the Democrats once again control the Presidency and the Congress. In addition there is an economic crisis.

Once more the preparations for war in space could be hindered. It is important to note that here are no legal restraints. No international agreements forbid defensive use of space weapons.


Dr. Lambakis excellent book indirectly demonstrated how the European Union is lacking capabilities in the field of space weapons. Europe is indeed a military pygmy not only in the field of space weapons compared to the United States.

That is probably one of the reasons why anti-Americanism has been on the rise since 2001. Seemingly pure envy. During the Cold War American administrations repeatedly urged European allies to spend more on defense. Instead many European countries have decreased military spending. The result is of course that the European Union (EU) is not capable of developing weapons for future warfare. Meanwhile the increase in the American defense budget 2001 to 2008 allowed the United States to raise spending in research and development of hightech weapons. The risk is that the R & D will not continue from 2009 and onward.

In today’s geopolitical arena and because of the political situation it might not be possible to deploy space weapons. One can only hope that after 2012 the situation will change. If regimes like the ones in Iran and North Korea are then still existing and holding nuclear weapons, American space vehicles for forward use are urgently needed. China has openly declared that it seeks to hinder the United States to deploy weapons in space. It is also pouring billions into space capabilities of its own.

Space weapons must be added to the United States arsenal to secure the West. NATO supported by most European Union countries needs an effective American arsenal to defend against the threats of tomorrow.


July 28, 2009

At the end of his recent (July 2009) visit to Ukraine and Georgia U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview that “Russia has to make some very dificult, calculated decisions. They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they’re in a situation where the world is changing before them and they’re clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable”.

Vice President Biden presented a correct assessment in the interview on some of the problems of Russia. Not taken into consideration was, however, the risk that Russia and China may in the future cooperate to create a challenge in Eurasia to the United States.

Since October, 2007, the SCO and CSTO, cooperative Eurasian organizations, could be the start of Russia-China working together. There is, which was in 2007 claimed by CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyazha, no intention of integration, like the EU. The plan seems to be to counteract so called “modern challenges” (meaning, one can presume, growing influence of the United States in Eurasia). Officially the line is to interact with NATO (and perhaps the EU). NATO is not, so Russia, regarded as a threat. Two of the main problems, according to Mr. Bordyazha, in 2007 was narco trafficking and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Russia and the other members of CSTO would even be willing to help Kabul. At present an important point is that the non-Russian members of CSTO would be allowed to purchase Russian weapons at “internal prices”. Military staff training was intended as well as sale of police equipment. Also peace keeping was considered with participation not only of Russian troops. The role of China was two years ago unclear.

On the other hand, also not mentioned by Vice President Biden, there is reason to observe possible border problems between Russia and China in the future. China is claiming 1,5 million square kilometres of Russian territory in Asia. Peking already in 1963 raised the question of the “nine unequal treaties” with Russia from 1689 to 1881. Along the Sinkiang border only there are 20 areas from 1,000 to 30,000 square kilometres in dispute according to PRC.

Some of the so called “unequal treaties” are:

Treaty of Nerchinsk, 1689, Treaty of Aigun, 1858, Treaty of Tientsin, 1858, Treaty of Peking, 1860, Treaty of Chugusak, 1864, Treaty of Tacheng, 1864, Treaty of St. Petersburg, 1881.

Around twenty areas near Sinkiang are in dispute. Also should be noted the Wakhan panhandle in Aghanistan. Recently, however, final river protocols between Russia and China have been signed regarding islands in the Amur and Ussuri rivers,
which were hotly disputed at the end of the 1960s.


July 26, 2009


The important recommendations of Professor Dolman deserve special mention here:

The United States should declare that it is withdrawing from the current space regime and announce that it is establishing a principle of free market sovereignty in space.

Information efforts touting the prospects of a new golden age of space exploration should be crafted and released to build popular support.

Using current and near-term capacities the United States should endeavor to seize military control of low-Earth orbit. This would guarantee a safe operating environment for others such us Japan, the European Union, and Russia.

The United States should establish a national space coordination agency to define, separate, and coordinate the efforts of commercial, civilian, and military space projects.

A complementary commercial space technology agency could be created to assist in the development of space exploitation programs at national universities and colleges, fund and guide commercial technology research, and generate wealth maximization and other strategies for space resources and manufacturing.

With the new millenium follows that there are increasing responsibilities for the world’s only superpower. Now is the time to start considering the proposals put forward by Professor Dolman. The front against international terrorism (War on Terror) has needed considerable attention after September 11, 2001. The War on Terror has been successful in deterring terrorist attacks on the American homeland it still seems prudent to be thinking not only about a new space regime in a wider perspective but of course also abort the National Missile Defense proposed by the Bush administration.

This writer believes it is important that the preparations for the future are undertaken and that the project to remake the present space regime goes on.

End Reflections

One of the central legal terms in space law is RES COMMUNIS OMNIUM. In space law it has been interpreted as something for the communal use of all and therefore cannot be owned by any state. This interpretation may be incorrect. Instead it can be interpreted as something for mutual use. The first term was during the Cold War used by the Soviet tyranny and less developed nations. It seems this interpretation cannot hold. A more correct usage would be ”RES NULLIUS”, something that lacks ownership. Compare with ”TERRA NULLIUS”, a land area that has no owner and is outside the sovereignty of any state.

It can also be claimed that none of the above terms are relevant. The leading space nation, the United States, can possibly in the future question the present space regime and demand some sort of ”IUS INTERVENTIONIS” based on space exploration undertaken by America. Thus, for example, the United States is the only nation which have had discoverers on a space body. It is therefore possible to create a regime in which the United States is responsible for the development of settlements and land on space bodies and the distribution of assets to friendly, democratic nations that are capable of space flight.

The discovery in space will therefore not have similar consquences as the discoveries after sea voyages in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In connection with those travels a symbolic act of possession taking of land for the discovering state was undertaken. Concerning spatial bodies it is stricty not a matter of discovery. A great number of space bodies were known to 16th and 17th century astronomers like Tycho Brahe of Denmark, Nicolaus Copernicus of Poland and Johannes Kepler of Germany, astrologers who made revolutionary discoveries in space.


July 22, 2009

The Leading Role of the United States – An Explanation

In May, 1999, International Space Policy Forum, Space Policy Institute and others published an important collection of essays (Merchants and Guardians – Balancing U.S. Interests in Global Space Commerce (eds. John M. Logsdon and Russell J. Acker, Washington DC).

There are several questions discussed in this excellent overview but most important is that of U.S. National Strategy for Space and if United States space hegemony came by accident or design. My view is that it came by design and that hegemoni should in the future be sought by design. One of the reasons for the American lead is of course the space race during the Cold War and the will of earlier American administrations to pursue space projects aimed at national prestige.

The view of some American experts that human expansion into space is both desirable and inevitable is to be supported. It fits well with the “manifest destiny” component of American history in which a frontier is seen as a utopian wilderness that meets several philosophical and emotional needs. To open this new frontier both government and private enterprise spending to open the frontier are needed.

Already in the 1950s Werner von Braun had sketched his vision for space development:

First orbiting satellites.

Then manned reusable vehicles.

After that a space station.

And then bases on the Moon and a manned expedition to Mars

Some have called this the “Von Braun Paradigm”. These basic elements were for decades part of the research and funding program in the United States.

Space Strategy

The administration of President George W. Bush no doubt was aware of the immense importance of space strategy. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld at a press conference in May, 2001, outlined the broad view of the administration’s initiatives. He also reminded the listeners of the existing U.S. National Space Policy of September 19, 1996. “Department of Defense shall maintain the capability to execute the mission, areas of space support, force enhancement, space control and force application. Consistent with treaty obligations, the United States will develop, operate and maintain space control capabilities to ensure freedom of action in space, and if directed, deny such freedom of action to adversaries. These capabilities may also be enhanced by diplomatic, legal and military measures to preclude an adversary’s hostile use of space systems and services”.

There might be a reason to review these policies later as a need for change may arise (see below).

The document quoted by Secretary Rumsfeld is not a Space Strategy document. One of the few publications so far dealing with such matters is Jim Oberg’s publikation Space Power Treaty

as per July 22, 2009).

Oberg has underlined that control of space is the linchpin upon which a nation’s space power depends. The United States is in need of an underlying theory from which to develop policy and strategy. The three works mentioned here all contribute to this. Both Dolman and Oberg recommend that the United States lead and protect in the move into space.


July 21, 2009

This year The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a non-profit educational organization in the United States will open the Captive Nations Week at The Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington D.C. The memorial commemorates the more than 100 million victims of communism. It was dedicated by President George W. Bush in June 2007.

The mission of The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is to educate this generation and future generations about the history, philosophy, and legacy of communism. It recently launched The Global Museum on Communism on Internet

The imperial communist holocaust was carried out through conquests, revolutions, civil wars, purges, wars by proxy, and other violent means. Communism set out the “big lie” that a classless utopian society with human dignity for all was its goal, then cynically produced exactly the opposite in nation after nation which succumbed to its armed might, shameless intrigues, and hypocrisy.

The memorial assures that that those who died under Communism are remembered forever and that the history of communist tyranny will be taught to future generations.

The Captive Nations Week is the third week in July and has been proclaimed by United States Presidents since 1959, starting fifty years ago this year. One can only hope that the European Union in the future establishes a similar foundation in Brussels to remember the victims of communism with a memorial.

For the text of this years proclamation by President Obama see below.

– – – – – – –
Fifty years ago, President Eisenhower issued a call of solidarity to peoples across the world living under communist rule. This first Captive Nations Week Proclamation expressed concern that too many people lacked fundamental freedoms, and it affirmed that the people of the United States stood alongside those who yearned to be free. Since this declaration, more nations have chosen the path of self-determination and respect for basic human rights. Brave American men and women have contributed to this story, making great sacrifices while serving in our Armed Forces or working in Government, private industry, and other organizations.
The Cold War is now consigned to the history books, but the ideals that President Eisenhower proclaimed remain vibrant and inspiring today. Just as in years past, people still hope to have the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams. People, young and old, still yearn to speak their minds. Citizens still believe governments have an obligation to be honest and transparent, uphold the rule of law, and allow civic participation.

We regard these universal principles as guiding values, and we stand in solidarity with those who aspire to live by them — not only because it is right, but also because our Nation’s fate is connected to that of other nations. In an interdependent world, instability, disease, and hardship abroad affect us here at home. Governments that are responsive to the concerns of their citizens can better tackle these challenges and contribute to a more secure, healthy, and prosperous world.

Nations must advance these values through example. At home and abroad, the United States strives to honor the principles enshrined in our Nation’s founding documents.

The challenges of a new century require us to summon the full range of human talents to move all nations forward. The United States stands with all governments and peoples committed to unlocking the potential of their people, and to peace, the rule of law, and respect for all citizens.

The Congress, by Joint Resolution, approved July 17, 1959 (73 Stat. 212), has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating the third week of July of each year as “Captive Nations Week.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 19 through July 25, 2009, as Captive Nations Week. I call upon the people of the United States to reaffirm our commitment to all those seeking dignity, freedom, and justice.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


July 19, 2009

On July 20 US Vice President Joe Biden goes to Ukraine and Georgia. One can only hope that he expresses support for NATO membership of these two countries. Russia strongly opposes this membership and both Ukraine and Georgia fear that American-Russian closer cooperation will hinder the move into NATO. If the United States supports a slower path to NATO for these countries it would mean taking a great risk.

In an open letter on July 16 Poland’s Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel urged that the pro-Western countries not be sacrificed in the name of better relations with Moscow.

Especially in the case of Georgia its President Mikhail Saakashvili wants stronger support as last year’s war could erupt again in the summer of 2009.

Also Vice President Biden’s national security adviser Tony Blinken reiterated Washington’s stance on Georgia’s breakaway regions on July 17:

“First of all, the United States is not-will not-recognize them as independent states, and we stand firmly for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia,”

The letter of July 16 was published in the Polish daily “Gazeta Wyborcza” and signed by 22 prominent thinkers and ex-foreign ministers, prime ministers, and presidents from Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Bulgaria, Latvia, and Romania.

The major concern was that the Central and Eastern European region has ceased to be a priority on the U.S. foreign policy agenda due to the misguided notion that the region is secure on the road to NATO. But there are many threats, the signers wrote, and Russia could return to its aggressive policies of the Cold War.

A big threat is the possibility that NATO is not keen enough to defend new and future East European members . There is a nervousness in the East European countries about Russia with its energy policies and media campaigns to advance its interests.

Ivan Krastev, head of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria, signed the letter and said it wasn’t written in reaction to anything Washington has or hasn’t done, but rather because the group wanted to contribute to the formation of new policy.

Krastev stated that it was not about something that has been done by the Obama administration. It is much more a kind of a signal that we wanted to send now, when we believe that European policy of the Obama administration is in the making.

An important message of the letter was that if the United States wanted to rely on the support of Central and Eastern Europe it would have to work harder on a stronger role for the United States as an “European power.”

A special policy for Central and Eastern Europe is needed because otherwise the regions could become a problem for cooperation between the European Union and the United States.

Among the recommendations in the letter were that “the United States should reaffirm its [role] as a European power and make clear that it plans to stay fully engaged in the continent even while it faces pressing challenges” elsewhere and “NATO needs to make the Alliance’s [common defense] commitments credible and provide strategic reassurance to all members.”

The letter also warned of abandoning the project of missile-defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic:

“Abandoning the program entirely or involving Russia too deeply in it without consulting Poland or the Czech Republic can undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region.”

One can only hope that the letter is read also in high places in Brussels and by the present chairman of the European Union in Stockholm.


July 19, 2009

”Raumrevolution”, Spatial Revolution

In the 1990s there has been a development toward ”globalization” but the economic differences are great between the developed world and the developing world making a unitary world state a distant possibility. But there is an ongoing ”Raumrevolution” or spatial revolution.

The modern term of political space includes the air and inner/outer space (the universe). To the old partition into land, sea and air space there is now a fourth dimension, which requires a new occupation of space following the acquiring of land and sea of the discoveries of the sixteenth century, the development of flight in the beginning of the twentieth century. For humanity the unlimited, borderless and boundless outer space is opening up. A new spatial order is emerging and there is only one leading nation in this spatial revolution, the United States. The others are far behind.

The post-Cold War era is not only a development away from two Greater Spaces, West and East. Today we have a system of spaces not founded on national territories but in an alliance system of which NATO is the most prominent example. The tendency of greater spaces is an expression of growing and expanding powers to create greater political and economical units. This is taking place in the system of three dimensions but the adding of the fourth dimension, space, in the meaning inner and outer space, has to be added if one wants to understand international development. The struggle to control inner and outer space has replaced the struggle of the seapowers to dominate the oceans (Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain and the United States). But in this new dimension there is actually only one power, the United States, that has the resources for controlling outer/inner space, which is becoming increasingly important. It is not only defense in space that matters but the whole sector of communications based on satellites.

One of the leading experts in space strategy or astropolitics, Professor Everett C. Dolman, in his book Astropolitik – Classical Geopolitics in the Space Age (London: Frank Cass, 2001) presented one of the most important contributions, also one of the first, in the field. Dolman defines astropolitik/astropolitics as the study of the relationship between outer space terrain and technology with the development of political/military policy and strategy.

It is only natural that Professor Dolman is pointing to the model in The Influence of Seapower in History, Alfred T. Mahan’s important and pathbreaking history of the importance of maritime power as a key to great power status. There are, as Dolman wrote, important similarities between ’coasts’ in space and on the seas. Instead of harbors, a spacefaring nation must have access to effective land-based launch, monitoring, and control sites.


July 18, 2009

Greater political spaces

Greater political spaces have been brought up by various authors and theorists. Conservative American political scientist and author, professor James Burnham (1905-1987) hinted at a tripartite world:

If we look at an economic map showing the occupations of mankind, a decisive fact is at once apparent. Advanced industry is concentrated in three, and only three, comparatively small areas: United States…Europe… and the Japanese islands with parts of eastern China…The economic map suggests dramatically what is probable on many other grounds: that the world political system will coalesce into three primary super-states, each based upon one of three areas of advanced industry. This does not necessarily mean that these three super-states will be the United States, Germany, and Japan as we know them today. This may well be the case, but it need not be so.

Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883-1950) during World War II also developed a theory of the greater spaces. According to Schumpeter the world would divide into four blocs, an Anglo-Saxon, a European, a Russian, and a Japanese, with a relatively strong independence.

The American geographer Saul B. Cohen wrote about the strategic value of an area, divided into three dimensions: space, time and national vantage points. For him the term space included natural resources and location with respect to the lines of movement that carry these resources. Two or more areas would be power cores. Cohen also believed in a geopolitical balance as a practical goal for politicians.

Today’s realities, so Cohen, rule out the domination of one global strategic concept based on either dominant land armies, dominant sea- or airpower. During the Cold War there were in principle only two geostrategic regions: The Trade Dependent Maritime World and The Eurasian Continental World. That has of course changed after 1991, which makes the concept of greater space of increased interest. In turn Cohen divided the geostrategic regions into six geopolitical regions: Anglo-America and the Caribbean, Maritime Europe and the Maghreb, Offshore Asia and Oceania and South America, theRussian Heartland and Eastern Europé and finally the East Asian Mainland while between the regions lay Shatterbelts- the Middle East and South East Asia.

The connection between greater spaces, space strategy and policy is important. Space exploration can only be undertaken by ”greater spaces”. The cost involved is to great for most nation states (except, of course, for the United States).


July 18, 2009

The Iranian exile editor Amir Taheri’s The Persian Night – Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution (Encounter Books, 2009) was given an advance review in New York Post on December 7, 2008. by James Robbins of the AFPC.

Robbins wrote that Iran regards the United States as the focus of evil in the world. In reality it is much like the other way round. In Iran women have one basic duty: to be a slave to her husband. Women are one of the phobias of the Teheran regime. The two others are Jews and the United States.

The book by Taheri is a basic book on the regime in Tehran and the thinking of the leaders of one of the world’s most dangerous regimes. It serves as a warning to those in the West who believe that a bargain can be had in open dialogue with these extremists. Their common goal is to smash the existing cultural and political models in the world and replace them with the idea of Pure Islam.

Negotiations are a waste of time according to Taheri. It is not possible to leave the regime intact. There is only one solution to the Iranian problem: regime change.
From 2001 to 2008 there was much talk in the United States about “soft power”. Now is the time for the Obama administration to use American public policy to inform about the situation in Iran. Full support should be given to the oppressed people of Iran. Using the technique applied by the Reagan administration in regard to the Soviet Union it should be possible to use the same methods on the brutal Iranian regime. Support for the opposition in Persia is a vital ingredient just as America supported Polish Solidarity during the Cold War. Instruments of economic warfare should be used full force.

With the recent demonstrations in Iran over the election result we know that the regime has been weakened. This summer and the coming fall should be used to further weaken the regime. It took a decade for the superpower Soviet Union to collapse. It should be possible to accomplish a collapse faster in Iran


July 17, 2009

Political space

The word space (German ”Raum”, Swedish and Old Norse ”rum”) originates in Indo-European, in the English language ”room” of the same root has a much more limited meaning. Latin ”spatium” is the basic word, which spread to the Roman languages in the form ”espace” in French, ”spazio” in Italian and ”espacio” in Spanish but also in English, space. In English space also equals the German word (”Weltraum”=global space or inner/outer space with the meaning universe).

In geopolitics space is political space (French ”espace politique”, German ”politischer Raum”). But there is of course also a philosophical term, concept of space. The old Greeks (Pythagoras) seem sometimes to have equalled empty space with air. Aristotle, for instance, tried to dodge the problem of the concept of space by treating it in terms of place, which he defined as the adjacent boundary of the containing body.

The German geographer Friedrich Ratzel (1844-1904) was the first to mention political space in 1897 in his book Politische Geographie. But until today there is no clear definition of the term. Other terms are used: empire (German ”Reich”) or territory within the geographic context. Ratzel was also the creator of the term ’Grossraum’ (greater space).

Space is linked to modern cartography and it was not until the sixteenth century that it was possible to describe more in detail the territory or space of lands. In the Middle Ages world maps were a circle showing the three oldest continents.

The importance of space was however recognized by both Aristotle and Herodotus, which led to the creation of the term political geography in the eighteenth century by A.R.J. Turgot, which meant the positive and theoretical connection between geographic data and political processes. The Swedish professor of geography and political science, Rudolf Kjellén, was the first to use the term geopolitics in 1899 being according to him the science of the state as geographical organism or concept of space.