February 1, 2002
The events of the past six months prove nothing if not this: violence begets violence, and that the only way to find peace in the world is to disarm, to build trust, to share the world's resources.
It is with this basic message in mind that we are writing to you on the urgent matter of the Bush administration's star wars/space warfare program and your role in this frightening scenario. We hope you will consider carefully the contents of this letter, and feel free to share your response in a similarly open fashion.
As you are likely well aware, wars continue unabated, and plans for new schemes such as National Missile Defence and Space Warfare are made possible only through the consent of a wide range of individuals and groups, from engineers and scientists to governments, military officials, and corporate entities which see a profit in all this.
We write at this crucial time because we feel COMDEV needs to come clean about its role in the militarization of space. COMDEV also needs to call a halt to ongoing and planned participation in any and all military-related projects. The costs of doing otherwise are simply too high. It is only when corporations such as yours make it clear that you will not do the bidding of warmakers that we begin to make war far more difficult to plan and wage.
In the summer of 2001, Ron Holdway, VP Corporate Communications for COMDEV, wrote to one of our researchers regarding potential participation in star wars: "We can speculate that if the selected [space warfare] system makes extensive use of space communications, there could be a role for standard COM DEV communications satellite subsystems for which we have as much as 80% of the world market, or for some version of the innovative optical inter-satellite communications system that COM DEV developed for LEO (low earth orbit) satellite constellations with Ball Aerospace, a few years ago. We are following this project with some interest."
Such language makes us nervous. We would have preferred a response that expressed horror at plans to further militarize space and divert untold public resoures from the poor to hi-tech weapons firms. Indeed, the Waterloo region is rife with poverty, hunger, and homelessness, and every federal tax dollar directed towards war is a federal tax dollar not going towards the very real human needs and rights which are currently not bring met.
In this, the U.N. Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence, you have the opportunity to take the lead in shaming corporate Canada out of the war business. In order to do this, we feel you need to address, especially as a corporation that relies heavily on millions of dollars worth of taxpayer subsidies, some of the following questions:
1. Why is COMDEV involved in the planning, development and deployment of one of the the most destabilizing programs of the 21st century: space warfare?
As you are aware, plans to wage war in and from space are not new. In 1996, General Joseph Ashy, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Space Command, told Aviation Week, "Some people don't want to hear this, and it sure isn't in vogue, but&endash;absolutely&endash;we're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space, and we're going to fight into space...That's why the U.S. has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms."
Subsequently, the U.S. Space Command produced a frightening document, Vision 2020, which clearly outlines U.S. plans to militarily dominate the earth by militarily controlling space. Vision 2020 notes, "Space capabilities are becoming absolutely essential for military operations, national commerce, and everyday life. In fact, space is emerging as a military and economic center of gravity for our information-dependent forces, businesses, and society. Life on earth is becoming inextricably linked to space...Early in the 21st Century, space will become another medium of warfare."
In the acknowledgements section of Vision 2020, one Canadian corporation stands out as a consultant to this vision of armageddon from the skies: COMDEV.
It is clear that COMDEV's work in satellite communications would be vital to achieving the goals of Vision 2020, which states "Military satellite communications are key to achieving Dominant Maneuver on the future battlefield...Space-based surveillance, earth resource monitoring and missile warning capabilities enable warfighters to complete the common operating picture of the battlefield. Information products are disseminated directly to the point of need, even to the foxhole, bridge or cockpit. Products could be 'pushed' or 'pulled' depending on warfighter needs...Satellite navigation systems will allow for greater positional and timing precision in a new generation of 'fire and forget' weapon systems, while denying this advantage to our adversaries."
Vision 2020 is very clear that war in space is about protecting U.S. capital from those who want to share the world's resources. Indeed, the document identifies as one of the primary reasons for developing a space-based war fighting capacity the fact that "The gap between 'have' and 'have not' nations will widen&endash;creating regional unrest." The report continues: "Space commerce is increasingly integral to the global economy. Military and commercial uses of space will become vital national interests for the United States. Achieving space superiority during conflicts will be critical to the US success on the battlefield."
2. Will you cancel your new $20 million satellite waveguide switches contract with Star Wars lead contractor Boeing Satellite Systems, which describes itself as a leading manufacturer of and "a major provider of space systems, satellites, and payloads for" military uses. Boeing is also the world's biggest military fighter jet manufacturer, with focus on the "electronic and defense systems, missiles, rocket engines, launch vehicles, satellites, and advanced information and communication systems" which are crucial to waging war from space.
Boeing is currently working on a space-based laser (SBL), the better to zap earth-based objects with.
Your new contract for satellite waveguide switches is worrisome, as it appears your contract will enable Boeing to develop the type of high-speed communications systems crucial to waging war from space.
Indeed, we have seen a troublesome pattern develop based on your past experience in doing military satellite work. In 1998, you won a multimillion-dollar contract with the Canadian War Dept. to develop military satellite coimmunications technology. In a press release at the time, it was noted that this contract improved "COMDEV's competitive position vis-a-vis future American military satellite communications contracts."
We are concerned as well about your association with DREO, the war research facility in Ottawa which researches the practical applications of the incredible question, ""Will technology allow us to fit 70 tons of lethality and survivability into a 20 ton package?" (as quoted in their annual report).
DREO is involved in a Star Wars research program called the Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector. "This project is a key contributor to the collaborative work with the (U.S.) Ballistic Missile Defence Organization [the key U.S. government branch pursuing NMD]," read military research reports obtained by the Ottawa Citizen. The Canadian QWIP system has "significant implications for future exploitation to support U.S. Space-based Infrared Surveillance Systems, surveillance from space and missile defence applications."
Meanwhile, the Canadian government's Technology Investment Strategy 2000, declares, "Space soon will be the fourth medium of warfare, it will not only bind all war fighting forces together but will also become strategically critical to the survival of warfighters...For future coalition warfare, space superiority will be fundamental."
It's clear that the Canadian and U.S. governments are up to no good when it comes to militarizing space, and that COMDEV is a part of this plan.
3. All of these things destabilize an already violent world, and represent a massive theft from the poor of the planet, who struggle for things like clean water, literacy, housing, and a future free from toxic pollution. Surely there are better things than war to which which the employees of COMDEV can devote the future.
In this spirit, we are calling on you to sign the enclosed Pledge of Conscience:
Pledge of Conscience to End Work for War
* the horrible toll war has taken during the 20th century, and to honour the 110 million-plus victims of warfare (a figure which surpasses one billion victims, according to leading radiation expert Sister Rosalie Bertell, when we consider the victims of the nuclear fuel cycle);
* the massive poverty which consumes the majority of the world's population because governments continue to devote over $800 billion annually to the planning and preparation for warfare instead of investing these funds in desperately needed social programs;
* the world's biggest polluter is war and the military;
* plans to further militarize space and wage war from the upper atmosphere represent what could be a final, fatal blow to the fragile planet we call home;
* the only way for us to stop war is to stop not only war but the political., social and economic causes of war;
I/we pledge never to participate in
1. the research, design, development, testing, production, maintenance, targeting, or use of any form of military weapons (be they nuclear, biological, chemical or so-called "conventional" weapons), their means of delivery, and their related components;
2. research or engineering that I/we have reason to believe will be used by the military.
I/we further pledge to
* cut any and all ties to military contractors;
* seek out only that work which benefits the environment, humanity, and all life forms which inhabit the earth.
*place a restriction limiting to civilian uses only any technological advances and research which result from our work.
We can almost hear your response that in a dangerous world, the last thing we need is to turn away from having these weapons systems in our possession, but when you stop to think of it, the world is a dangerous place precisely because we have devoted so many of our resources to building such a mass of weaponry that we are literally drowning in the stuff. It is also made unstable because all the funds which could alleviate the causes of social instability have gone to weapons.
We ask that the people who make up COMDEV take the bold yet necessary step of signing this pledge of conscience and carrying through its noble objectives. The example you could set for other companies might very well be one of those small steps which brings us back from the brink of total self-destruction.
The folks at the Campaign to Demilitarize
A Division of Homes not Bombs
Because Canada should build homes, not blow them up
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