Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Post #22 Hire a Hall/Everything (...drew their plans against us)

In the opening paragraph of the War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells tells of the complacency of humanity as the alien enemy prepares to attack: "...intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us."

I feel that we are replicating the complacency of Wells' imaginary earthlings in the real world. There is a hostile and far-thinking power which is gradually establishing a strategic advantage against this planet. That power is not to be found on Mars, but in the capital of the People's Republic of China. It is the despotic government which is engaging in a space programme that appears to be replicating the first phase of the US-Soviet "space race" of the 1960's. The standard view of this "race" is that the US won and the Soviets, disheartened, turned their attention to Earth-orbit activities. In truth, although the US succeeded in landing six expeditions on the Moon, the prize in the race was not truly claimed. The Moon has no permanent human settlement and is as much in contention as it ever was.

The Chinese government has announced its intention to carry out Moon landings. It seems unlikely that they will content themselves with a tip-and-run effort. They have made their decision to advance a space programme without the impetus of a foreign competitor that is challenging them in the field. So, is it plausible that they will content themselves with a gesture which merely repeats the American effort? This is no knee-jerk plan and it must have a pragmatic purpose and an intended outcome to their advantage.

I've read Robert Heinlein's work The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and been impressed by the case he made for the Moon as a base for military operations. I recommend it as a source of insight into the potential danger of allowing uncontested control of the Moon to fall into the hands of a government which has repeatedly demonstrated that it places no value on treaties or human life. As Heinlein shows, the Moon is a great place from which to throw rocks..

And how do we respond? So far, publicly, only with benign curiosity. We observe the state which is celebrating five thousand years of despotism as it lays the ground for a lunar base and we watch with mild interest, not the alarm which it should cause. Compared to this threat, the provocations of Al-Qaeda are small fry indeed.

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