How much do you know about what goes on at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, just 30 minutes north of UCSB? For most of us, our knowledge is limited. We may see an occasional missile launch that tears through the sky abruptly, leaving behind a bright trail – and perhaps, for some of us, suspicions of its intent. We may know that these launches cost $10 million each. We may know that these launches are a part of the missile defense program – a military “necessity,” according to our politicians. We may know that the last two test launches failed in their objectives, but that the military is insisting on continuing the program despite protests from educators, activists, environmentalists and students. But what is the ultimate aim of these launches, besides wasting taxpayer money that could be spent on constructive social programs? Surely, the answer is as big a secret as the mysterious base is to Santa Barbarans. The Vandenberg Action Coalition is helping to provide clues.
According to its spokesperson, Peter Lundsdaine, the U.S. Space Command is at the center of a military terrorist movement to “enforce the economic and environmental violence of corporate globalization.” Vandenberg is the hub of surveillance and targeting satellites, which guide U.S. counter-insurgency movements around the world. This surveillance provides exact locations of resistance fighters, for use by death squad leaders in Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico or pretty much anywhere. This should be beginning to scare all of you concerned about your right to privacy. And why is the U.S. so interested in quelling resistance movements around the world? The answer should be obvious to all of you capitalists out there – less resistance to American corporate business interests. But is it worth all the bloodshed?
Another perk of the missile program is the expansion of a defense shield in space. It is much safer to survey enemy countries from a distance, as the recent spy plane debacle proves. However, what this “star wars” program is likely to produce is a vicious arms race with China and Russia, comparable to the Cold War. Oh wait, I forgot, we are already spending as much on defense as during the Cold War. So, we can expect a much larger portion of our tax dollars than a mere 50 percent to go to the Pentagon in the coming years. With an arms race, one can also expect rising levels of fear and militancy to overtake the globe. But at least the arms industry will stay nice and rich, and perhaps even gain more lobbying power in Washington.
The main reason why all of us should care about Vandenberg and its involvement in this movement of astro-imperialism, is that we can all think of better ways to spend $10 million (the cost of one test launch from the base.) We could build 5,000 schools in underdeveloped countries around the world. We could feed millions of starving children. For all of you selfish people, we could pay 50 percent less in taxes. Think about it, wouldn’t it be more constructive to encourage programs that strengthen global peace, instead of promoting global fear and distrust? If you think so, show up at the base on May 19, and join the hundreds that will be there to voice your opposition to the next test launch. If you want more information, go to .
Tuuli Saarela is a senior political science major.