The administration’s newly announced Space policy, looking mostly to undo Bush-Cheney unilateral militarism and return to the norms of Reagan, Bush pere and Clinton, modest as it seems, echoes a bit ominously.
To begin, it seems intended to put NASA out of the spaceship business.
NASA in 1963 was a deeply Cowboy institution. And when the president that year signed National Security Action Memo No 271 — headed “Cooperation with the Soviet Union on Outer Space Matters” — the reaction from the national security apparat was pale.
The same day Kennedy signed a less well known memo headed “Classification review of all UFO intelligence files affecting National Security” which referenced NSAM 271 and directed the CIA, which had recently taken over the UFO beat from the Air Force, to begin declassifying UFO files with an eye toward partnered investigation with the Soviet Union.
In this memo Kennedy stated, “I have initiated [blacked out] and have instructed [then NASA Administrator] James Webb to develop a program with the Soviet Union in joint space and lunar exploration. It would be very helpful if you would have the high threat cases reviewed with the purpose of identification of bona fide as opposed to classified CIA and USAF sources. It is important that we make a clear distinction between the knowns and unknowns in the event the Soviets try to mistake our extended cooperation as a cover for intelligence gathering of their defense and space programs.â€ť
Kennedy then asked for all files on “Unknowns” to be turned over to the NASA authorities and an interim report be forwarded to the White House no later than February 1, 1964.
Kennedy signed the two memos on November 12 and ten days later was dead.
Werner von Braun and his President
After running in 1960 as a Colder Warrior than Nixon, then nearly getting sunk by conniving brass and spooks at the Bay of Pigs some 70 days after taking office, after being embarrassed and outfoxed by Khruschev in Vienna then outlasting him at the psy ops battle of West Berlin, and after defusing the Cuban missile crisis by outfoxing his own warmongering brass while brokering a back-channel compromise with the Reds …
After all that, Kennedy during his last summer confirmed his fundamental turn with a commencement address at American University. For a few months it was rather in the news:
“Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique, among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other.
“And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least twenty million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two-thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland — a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.
“Today, should total war ever break out again — no matter how — our two countries would become the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first twenty-four hours.
Kennedy then voiced clear comprehension of what Eisenhower had been struggling with since making his truce in Korea with Peking and then had spoken of with quiet thunder in his farewell address days before Kennedy took office.
“And even in the cold war [Kennedy said in '63], which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries, including this nation’s closest allies — our two countries bear the heaviest burdens.
“For we are both devoting to weapons massive sums of money that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons.
“In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. …
“So, let us not be blind to our differences — but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
The speech, written by young brain-truster Ted Sorenson, had opened more abstractly, contesting the notion that war was the inevitable condition of modern states, taking clear cue here from FDR’s speech at Chicago in 1937.
Kennedy then broke some surprising news, announcing that the US would henceforth refrain, unilaterally, from testing nukes in the atmosphere, and that talks had been set in Moscow “looking toward early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty.”
He then concluded:
“Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad. … ‘When a man’s ways please the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us, “he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.’
“And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights — the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation — the right to breathe air as nature provided it — the right of future generations to a healthy existence?
“The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war ….”
It’s only against JFK in June 1963, and Eisenhower in 1961, and FDR in 1937, that one can fully appreciate the depths to which we’ve been pulled by the Bush-Cheney doctrine and practice of preemptive war. Indeed, the contrasting lines of argument are so strong that Vladimir Putin at Munich in 2007 reminded the world of FDR at Chicago, in long, loyal paraphrases, while trying to organize the international community in opposition to the American warmongering.
It bears repeating that the Baby Bush Doctrine was promulgated for the most part by the American Likud Lobbyists gathered under the umbrella of The Project for the New American Century in DC.
And lo. Unilateral and exclusive military exploitation of space is high on the agenda of the manifesto published by the group in 2000, two months before the failed election. Half a dozen leading PNAC “Vulcans” were then advising baby Bush’s campaign and months later two dozen would take command of his War Room.
And so it’s only natural to wonder what today’s Apparat thinks of Obama’s announcement about peacefully sharing the last frontier.