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May 29, 1980 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1980-05-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page 4-Thursday, May 29, 1980-The Mic

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A rms race becomes
real ife star wars


Reform: A South
African fantasy
I T WOULD BE nice to believe that South Africa's
ongoing constitutional reform will place more
power in the hands of the country's non-white
majority. It would be wonderful to think that these
'reforms" will mean that South Africa's blacks
will someday have the ability to control their own
But it is hard to believe in fairy tales, and so it is


SUNNYVALE, Ca-A window-

By John Markoff

even harder to accept these token reforms -building set next to a freeway in "direct ascent" satellite killer
stituted by South Africa's Prime Minister P.W. this San Francisco suburb is the which will be carried under the
Botha. command center for the newest wing of an F-15 fighter aircraft.
branch of the U.S. armed forces. The Vought hunter-killer is
The constitutional changes currently under brnh teUSrmdfrs. esgdtoskouannmy
debae i Soth fria's arlamet wuld Marked only by two massive designed to seek out an enemy
debate in South Africa's parliament would antennas pointing skyward, and satellite with an infrared homing
establish separate consultative groups for blacks, referred to as the "blue zoo" by device and then collide with it.
those of mixed race, and Indians to replace the some of the men who work inside American tests are scheduled
existing all-white senate. White Afrikaners won't the U.S. Satellite Control Facility to begin this year and the weapon
have to worry; these groups are advisory only and is the operational command cen- will probably be deployed begin-
the actual power will be left where it always has ter for the Space Division of the ning in 1983. Because the
U.S. Air Force, established last American killer satellite will be
been-in the hands of the white minority. year. carried by the F-15, it is believed
Botba's 20 months as head of South Africa's apar- THE CENTER IS a key link in it will be more flexible than the
theid government could falsely lead one to believe a new U.S. push to develop the Soviet system since U.S. aircraft
that he was a more just, slightly more fair-minded capability to fight a war in outer are deployable around the world.
manthn is reecsso, rie Mnite Vostr. space. It is the nerve center of a BESIDES THE KILLER
man than his predecessor, Prime Minister Vorster. worldwide network of tracking satellite research, both the
He recognized six black trade unions and gave stations that allow the Air Force United States and the Soviets are
them the liberty to begin collective bargaining. He to control the hundreds of also developing particle beam
shocked Afrikaners by suggesting that laws again- military satellites used for com- and laser weapons for use against
st intermarriage might be eliminated. And now he munication, navigation, in- satellites. An American in-
ha ae h is tp oad osiuinl telligence gathering and early telligence report sent to the
has taken the first steps towards constitutional warning of potential Soviet President in mid-May claims that
reform. missile attacks. the Soviets have successfully
But in reality, the Botha government is just more The Control Facility has gained developed a ground-based laser
far-sighted than the Vorster regime. Botha has importance because both the weapon that may be effective
watched the advent of black rule in neighboring United States and the Soviet against low-orbiting U.S. sur-
cutisadhsse th grwn miiac of Union are rapidly accelerating veillance satellites. The report
countries and has seen the growing militancy of militaryractivity in space in the also claims the Soviets may be
South African blacks. He and other so-called in- wake of the twin crises in able to deploy a space-based
tellectuals realize that keeping exclusive white rule Afghanistan and Iran and the laser weapon effective against
would only lead to revolution, which certainly is not consequent stalling of the higher orbiting communications
in the best interests of white Afrikaners. Strategic Arms Limitation Talks satellites by the mid-1980s.
(SALT) agreement. Pentagon executives frequen-
So, hoping to mitigate angry blacks and stifle Although satellite intelligence - tly cite the fact that 70 per cent of
revolutionary talk, the Botha government has collection is protected by existing all American military com-
created a thin veneer of reform. They may rattle a SALT agreements, defense ex- munications are now routed
few hard-line conservatives, but the tiny reforms perts are concerned that any war through space. These satellite
won't harm the domain of white supremacy. between the United States and systems transmit routine
the Soviet Union would probably military communications as well
While Botha and his parliament debate the hbegin with efforts to knock out the as provide top secret channels to
establishment of advisory councils for the non- opponents'spy satellites. Without be used in the event of a nuclear
white majority, African children will continue to the intelligence that ' such war.
die of malnutrition in the impoverished homelands. satellites provide, the United According to the authoritative
Africans will still earn too little to keep their States would be virtually trade magazine Aviation week
families above the poverty level and will still be paralyzed in a war situation. and Space Technology, the Pen-
famiiesaboe te poert leel nd wll til be BOTH COUNTRIES have been tagon is already laying specific
unable to send their children to school under laws spending increasingly larger por- plans for doing battle with the
which make education compulsory and free for tions of their military budgets on Soviet Union in space. It reported
whites but optional and expensive for blacks. space related systems (the U.S. that Soviet spy satellites that aid
Under Vorster's government the world saw this spent $4.1 billion last year) and in tracking U.S. navy vessels will
this new arena for the arms race be the "prime targeta" for the
situation as intolerable. But Botha has sinned is apt to prove far more costly U.S. anti-satellite system in a
twice by fostering false hope and trying to than anything that has been spent war.
camouflage these atrocities under the pretense of on earth-based weapons to date. SOME PENTAGON and
reform Now that the Soviets have military officials have come to
Fairy tales are more fun than reality. But we resumed their testing of space ieve that spacefmay bnea
should not forget the real horror story behind South weapons, the U.S. is certain t war, and that such a war could
Africa's government. ded a $58 million contract to the take place without endangering
Vought Corporation to develop a earth.
tx#Z w1M"l,-1; xs" .. arti" .«: , ~a ,a''+R3'a~'o.,.:a " .a-ar .' -.)L''..a."=ks''4Yr "+ C.Ot .cl ac 91'l "7

"Under certain circumstances,
space may be viewed as an at-
tractive arena for a show of for-
ce," Lt. General Thomas . Staf-
ford, United States Air Force
Deputy Chief of Staff for Resear-
ch, Development and Acquisition
and former Apollo astronaut, told
a closed meeting of the Senate
Armed Services Subcommittee
on Research and Development
"Conflict in space does not
violate national boundaries, does
not kill people and can provide a
very visible show of deter-
mination at a relatively modest
cost. Because of this possibility,
it is desirable to provide the
national command authorities
with the additional option of or-
dering response-in-kind to a
space attack," Stafford said.
Arms control advocates say
that the danger of militarizing
space is that an attack on a
nation's satellites would surely
rbe responded to by an all-out
nuclear strike since its in-
telligence gathering capability
would be crippled.
An almost certain consequence
of the renewed military apace
race is that it will lead to a new
debate over America's space
policy. Congress, which counts
several former astronauts among
its members,. has been
pressuring President Carter to
expand American space ac-
In addition to the debate over
the expansion of the space
program, there has been in-
creasing pressue from within the
Pentagon to take over NASA, the
nation's civilian space program.
A recent study of U.S. space
policy conducted by three Air
Force officers concluded that
maintaining separate civilian
and military space programs
were "expensive philosophical
luxuries" which the U.S. cannot
indefinitely afford.
John Markoff is a specialist in
military affairs. He wrote this
.ArAVefPAPfqcgif1e M S'ervice.




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