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  • Mind the Ming
    Posted by John M. Doyle 2:09 PM on Apr 13, 2009

    A recent report by the Independent Working Group on Missile Defense, a group sponsored by several think tanks including the George C. Marshall Institute, American Foreign Policy Council  and the Heritage Foundation, calls for adding a space-based layer to the U.S. missile defense system.

    They’re likely to get a cold shoulder from the Obama administration, since the president has said – even before he was president – that he opposes the introduction weapons in space:

    "The Obama-Biden Administration will restore American leadership on space issues, seeking a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites," says the White House website.

     

    blog post photo
    Nanjing ancient city wall, which was built in Ming dynasty, when Nanjing was the imperial Chinese capital and China ruled the eastern seas. Photo: Wu Yang, courtesy of Wikipedia.

     

    The report warns that the U.S. could wind up like China’s Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.), which held a preeminent position in ocean navigation and exploration 600 years ago, until domestic politics and infighting led to the erosion of China’s maritime dominance. That enabled Portugal and other western powers to assume the leading maritime role in the 16th Century -- "with historical consequences felt until the present day," the report states The same fate in the 21st Century could befall the U.S. in space, the report warns.

    Just as Britain dominated the oceans in the 19th Century, the U.S. in the 21st, must maintain its preeminent position in space or "some other nation, or nations, will aspire to this role, as several others already do."

    Among the report's recommendations:

    -- Limiting ground-based missile defense deployments to Alaska, California and Eastern Europe;

    -- Directing future funding to sea-based and space-based missile defense; 

    -- Initiating a streamlined development program building on the Reagan era Brilliant Pebbles missile defense  plan (with advanced technologies produced since then) for space-based interceptors capable of boost-phase, midcourse and terminal phase interdiction;

    -- Testing a space-based missile defense system (estimated cost $3 billion to $5 billion) within three years;

    -- Integrating a space testbed for space-based interceptors into U.S. Strategic Command's global architecture within three to five years;

    -- Rejecting efforts to counter U.S. primacy in space through legal restrictions;

    -- Strengthening missile defense collaboration with allies.

    Tags: ar99, space-based, missile defense, China

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