|The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)|
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Gregg Easterbrook theorizes that Bush's announcement of a return to the moon is a bluff, in the same vein as Reagan's instigation of the Strategic Defense Initiative. SDI convinced the Soviets that they could not compete with America militarily, and Easterbrook thinks that Bush is trying to get the Chinese to build a presence on the moon and thereby bankrupt themselves. (Note: This is not a perfect analogy, but that's Easterbrook's problem, not mine.)
Easterbrook derides a New York Times article which claims that "Some experts in the United States speak ominously of a 'Red Moon,' the possibility that China might one day launch military astronauts into space with the aim of setting up a Communist lunar base." I hear this sort of talk on the web and on Usenet: China might "claim the moon," so we need to get there first.
People who say this treat the moon as if it were some small parcel of land that only one power could occupy, like Pomerania or the Bosphorous. But the moon has some 25 million square miles of surface. If the Chinese build a moon base, and it becomes evident that doing so has given them some military or economic advantage, there will still be plenty of room -- seven times as much room as within the borders of the United States -- for America to do the same.
It is true that China might make a claim to the entire moon which we would regard as invalid. But the Chinese could make other ridiculous claims as well. For instance, China could claim Pacific Ocean as their territory. Is it necessary for America to launch fleets to cover every square mile of the Pacific, to forestall this possibility?