White House Response to China ASAT Test Shows No Policy
April 23, 2007 (EIRNS)The April 23 issue of the New York Times adds detail to a story already known within days of the Jan. 11 test by China of an anti-satellite weapon: that the U.S. military knew, from previous failed tests in 2005 and 2006, that China was developing an ASAT capability. U.S. military officials had reported as early as last August, that China would launch a missile to intercept one of its satellites. U.S. intelligence agencies also observed the ground preparations for the January test, and, according to the Times, "debated how to respond ... but utlimately decided to say nothing to Beijing."
What were the options? Asking the Chinese not to proceed with the test would have been a non-starter. Acceding to China's proposals for negotiations toward a ban on weapons in space contradicts this administration's military space policies. Threatening China with sanctions or other punitive measures would have backfired. In fact, the strategic tension the U.S. has createdthreatening Russia, and utlimately, China, with the emplacement of anti-missile systems in countries of the former Warsaw Pacthas likely accelerated the timetables for new defensive systems in both countries.
On April 11, Gen. Michael Moseley, the Air Force Chief of Staff, who has ordered a review of U.S. military satellite vulnerabilities, said at the 23rd National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, that the review will consider development of "offensive counter-space" systems, describing space as "a contested domain" since the Chinese test. He compared the ASAT test to the Soviets' 1957 Sputnik. In contrast, EETimes.com, directed at the engineering and technology sector, reported on April 12, on remarks at the conference by U.S. Strategic Comman Commander Gen. James Cartwright, who said the Chinese test was not a "watershed"; that it was similar to tests the U.S. and Soviets carried out 20 years ago; and that it was not an excuse for reassessing U.S.-China relations.
While the Aministration's military build-up in the Persian Gulf could lead to a "sneeze" that starts a nuclear war, it is creating the possibility for a "sneeze" in space, that could have the same results.