WAR IN SPACE OR LIFE ON EARTH? THE CHOICE IS OURS

WILPF panel with Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and Carol Urner, co-convener of the WILPF Peace and Security Working Group. The sessions were organized by WILPF Norway at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, New York. Room 2, 10th floor 777 UN Plaza, 1:15 to 3:00 pm. Edel Havin Beukes, co-convener of the WILPF Environmental Working Group, facilitated.

Bruce Gagnon of Global Network began by referring to the films Why We Fight and Inconvenient Truth. The first illustrates the takeover of the U.S. economy, Congress and university system by the military/industrial complex. The second illustrates the abuse of mother earth by those who seek to dominate and exploit our planet on a massive scale. Global corporate domination requires global military domination and currently over 50% of every U.S. tax dollar goes to support the military. Billions go to maintenance of some 750 U.S. military bases around the world and to finance U.S. wars for resources. At present the Iraq war alone costs 8.5 billion a month. More billions go to military contractors .and universities who prosper from developing the most high tech military killing machine the world has ever known.

Still, Gagnon said, this is not enough. Generals and corporate executives alike now speak of the largest military/industrial project the world has ever known as the U.S. military arms the heavens. He then quoted from and extensively discussed the Air Force Space Command Strategic Master Plan which outlines plans for U.S. domination of the space dimension (image to the left).The goal is to control space as the "high ground," to deny others the use of space when in the U.S. interest, and to ensure freedom to wage war in, from and through space. He pointed out the critical role space already plays in U.S. intelligence gathering and warfare, and outlined plans for a military base on the moon and corporate exploitation of planetary resources. He explored some of the dark connections with Nazi Germany, noting especially the contributions of Major General Dornberger, one of the Nazi scientists excused from the Nuremberg trials and brought to the US (along with 1500 others) to develop the U.S. aerospace and nuclear weapons programs. Bruce Gagnon then discussed the tremendous damage already done to the environment by the space program, and ended with a plea for conversion to peace economies as the only hope for sustainability and human survival. (For more information see the Global Network web site.)

Carol Urner explained that WILPF sees corporate war profiteers as the major drivers in dangerous U.S. nuclear and space militarization policies. She shared a 132 page print out of updated WILPF material on aerospace corporations profiting from both nuclear and space programs and referred those present to the WILPF Reaching Critical WIll web site. The material is presented in four sections:

Carol also shared reports on Keep Space for Peace Week observed by some 140 organizations around the world in October of each year. The reports have been prepared for the UN agencies which sponsor UN World Space Week each year. Unfortunately organization of the week has been let out to an NGO sponsored by major aerospace firms. Although themes are intended to promote the peaceful uses of outer space for the benefit of all human kind, WILPF and Global Network believe the program is designed as a recruiting tool for military and corporate programs seeking to exploit space for the profits of a few. Keep Space for Peace Week, on the other hand, supports observance of existing space treaties, negotiation of a new treaty for Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, and points out the dangers of the Space Command programs and the profiteering and political lobbying of aerospace corporations.

Carol Urner told how she had first become aware of the space program when she returned to the United States after thirty-five years abroad working with the very poor in developing countries. She had realized that increasing global militarism made sustainable development impossible and threatened human life and the planet's fragile ecosystems. She returned to the U.S. determined to counter U.S. militarism and began working within WILPF to that end. She soon encountered Vision 2020, the 1997 Space Command publication in almost comic book format outlining plans for dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. It refers to globalization of the world economy and the widening gap between the haves and have nots (p. 4) as reasons for need for U.S. space dominance and "Space as the war fighters edge."

Edel Hans Beukes facilitated the panel and was its chief organizer. She also shared information on Norway's resistance to space militarization. The Norwegian government has a multi-billion dollar pension fund and has divested stocks in corporations profiteering from nuclear weapons and space militarization as well as from cluster munitions. Even the editor of the most conservative Norwegian newspaper has strongly criticized unilateral action of the USA, without consulting NATO, in negotiating missile defense bases in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Edel Hans Beukes also organized the WILPF side event on Nuclear Power Is Not the Solution to Global Warming with Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Terje Kronen of the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development and Mary Olsen, Nuclear Information and Resource Service. This was also held at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, New York. Room 2, 10th floor 777 UN Plaza, 1:15 to 3:00 pm on Tuesday, May 8.

In addition she participated in the side event organized by U.S. WILPF on 'The Human Right to Water and the Global Water Crisis' - May, 2nd 2007. Edel was one of four panel members and spoke on the conflicts over water in the Middle East and Africa.