More Tom Clancy stuff. This time it’s like Cardinal of the Kremlin, only set in Beijing:
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon is planning to shoot down a broken spy satellite expected to hit the Earth in early March, The Associated Press has learned.
U.S. officials said Thursday that the option preferred by the Bush administration will be to fire a missile from a U.S. Navy cruiser, and shoot down the satellite before it enters Earth’s atmosphere.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the options will not be publicly discussed until a later Pentagon briefing.
The disabled satellite is expected to hit the Earth the first week of March. Officials said the Navy would likely shoot it down before then, using a special missile modified for the task.
Other details about the missile and the targeting were not immediately available. But the decision involves several U.S. agencies, including the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Defense and the State Department.
Shooting down a satellite is particularly sensitive because of the controversy surrounding China’s anti-satellite test last year, when Beijing shot down one of its defunct weather satellites, drawing immediate criticism from the U.S. and other countries.
The recent Chinese development worried me. Why, you ask? Because it meant they could wipe out our economy with a few well-placed missiles. You say they wouldn’t want to do that? Maybe not at this particular moment, no. But I’m almost certain that they’d love to have it as an option.
I’m only slightly reassured that we seem to have a cruiser-based capability in this regard. Or is it that we want the Chinese to think we do? I don’t know; I haven’t kept up with this stuff, so the cruiser bit took me by surprise.
Now I’ll probably hear from the "all countries are morally equal" crowd to the effect of, "why is OK for us to be able to do it and not THEM?" And if you can conceive of that question and ask it without embarrassment, there’s probably not much I can say to persuade you.
For my part, I was no fan of Reagan’s "Star Wars" initiative. And not just because it was a particularly risky, destabilizing gambit in the era of MAD. Also, while it was fine by me to beef up conventional forces (AND diplomatic efforts, and economic ties, and every other way we might engage the rest of the world comprehensively), there seemed to be an isolationist fantasy involved in the notion that we could put up a missile-shield umbrella that enabled us to ignore the rest of the world.
But if somebody’s going to have this technology, I’d infinitely rather it be the world’s first and biggest liberal democracy than the Tiananmen-Square crowd.