“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gee, Why Waste Money in Space?


China’s rapidly expanding satellite programme could alter power dynamics in Asia and reduce the US military’s scope for operations in the region, according to new research.

Chinese reconnaissance satellites can now monitor targets for up to six hours a day, the World Security Institute, a Washington think-tank, has concluded in a new report. The People’s Liberation Army, which could only manage three hours of daily coverage just 18 months ago, is now nearly on a par with the US military in its ability to monitor fixed targets, according to the findings.

“Starting from almost no live surveillance capability 10 years ago, today the PLA has likely equalled the US’s ability to observe targets from space for some real-time operations,” two of the institute’s China researchers, Eric Hagt and Matthew Durnin, write in the Journal of Strategic Studies.

China’s rapidly growing military might has unnerved its neighbours, many of whom are US allies, while a series of disputes this year with Vietnam and the Philippines have added to the concerns.

China’s military build-up has accelerated in recent years, as it has developed an anti-ship ballistic missile, tested a stealth fighter and is poised to launch its first aircraft carrier. The fast-growing network of reconnaissance satellites provides China with the vision to harness this hardware.

Admiral Mike Mullen, America’s top military official, said at the weekend in Beijing that it was clear that the PLA is focused on “access denial” – a term that describes a strategy of pushing the US out of the western Pacific.

“The US is not going away,” Adm Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said. “Our enduring presence in this region has been important to our allies for decades and will continue to be so.”

China warned the US last month not to become involved in its dispute with Vietnam over the South China Sea. “[China’s] strategic priority is to keep the US out of its backyard,” Mr Durnin told the Financial Times, adding that the satellite technology needed for achieving that goal is now in place.

When China tested missiles near Taiwan in 1996, the US deployed two aircraft carriers to nearby waters. The PLA’s inability to locate the ships was a source of great embarrassment that helped spur China’s satellite programme.

“The United States has always felt that if there was a crisis in Taiwan, we could get our naval forces there before China could act and before they would know we were there. This basically takes that off the table,” said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island.
China cut-off military relations with the US early last year, after Washington announced an arms sale to Taiwan. The two militaries have been working to repair ties this year, with PLA Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde visiting Washington in May and Adm Mullen in China until July 13.


  1. You have been hearing me for years railing against the threat from China about the absurd situation of allowing massive Chinese trade surpluses and then the Chinese purchase of US Sovereign Debt. This allowed the Chinese to leverage military expansion and the demolition of the US industrial base. China has eclipsed US trade in the Americas. Now China is well on the way to militarizing Space. There is no US job growth and the Chinese economy is expanding at 9.5%.

    We are told not to worry. Why do I worry?

  2. We are now expected to believe that the same private market that transferred American jobs, manufacturing and technology to China will somehow beat the Chinese Government in space.

  3. Take a horseback ride it soothes the soul. While I agree with you, you can drive yourself crazy with this stuff. Dotter has never been happier and maybe we should all learn something from her.


  4. NASA is not the US space program.
    No, not at all.
    It is just a jobs program, while the real work, and budget are in the US military.

    The Pentagon’s first National Security Space Strategy and its recently released budget request for space are attempting to prioritize procurement and operations after a decade of problematic performance. But work still needs to be done.

    The Air Force’s unclassified space budget saw a nearly 10% boost in fiscal 2012—to $8.7 billion—from the $8 billion request in fiscal 2011. A portion of this is intended to increase and stabilize the buy of Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV) as the government assumes the role of sole supporter of the United Launch Alliance and its massive industrial base in light of an unrealized commercial market.

    He stopped short, however, of suggesting that the Pentagon could curtail its buy of Global Positioning System III satellites, being developed by Lockheed Martin; this request is for $978 million in development and procurement.

  5. NASA's been flying forty year old technology. It represents the style of the 20th century, not the 21st.

  6. Asia, in a decade, will have 12.5% of the commercial/military space utiliziation market.

    the U.S. spends an enormous amount on military space compared with the rest of the world. Overall, the Pentagon is expected to spend $4.2 billion on space procurement and $4.1 billion on research and development in Fiscal 2011. In the next 10 years, the U.S. will account for 77% of global military satellite sales; Europe will be a distant second, with 9.3% of sales. Countries such as Russia, China and Israel are increasing their military space spending and, by the end of the 10-year forecast period, Asian countries will outpace Europe with 12.5% of the market.

    That's both China and Japan, with a 12.5% market share.

    US with 77%

    Find another reason to be afraid.

  7. The need to increase satellite capacity and capabilities—communications and reconnaissance—is forcing many militaries to turn to commercial operators. In July 2010, the U.S. issued a solicitation for communications satellite services under the Future Comsatcom Services Acquisition (FCSA) program. Multiple contracts could be worth up to $3.5 billion over five years. FCSA will consolidate contracts previously awarded by individual agencies as well as state and local governments.

    U.S.-based DigitalGlobe and GeoEye each have contracts under the EnhancedView program to provide remote-sensing data to the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. If all options are exercised, each company could be awarded more than $3.5 billion in the next 10 years.

  8. Retail Sales +0.1, and jobless claims 408,000, though not great, didn't signal a plunge off the bridge.

    GDP won't be large for the 2nd qtr (probably in the 1.0 to 1.5% range,) but it probably won't go negative.

  9. .

    "Cantor and Company picked a fight, won, and do not know how to admit victory."

    but Doug asks,

    Please explain:

    What was won?

    Doug try to keep up.

    Last year, Boehner set up what he said was the GOP acceptable requirements for a budget deal, 85% spending cuts/15% revenue increases. The deal Obama offered, if you can believe the press and CBO amounted to a 83/17 split, what we used to call 'good enough for government work'.

    He has now gone back on that offer and said no tax cuts.

    Cantor, the majority leader, denounced the the results of the 'snaller fix' proposed by the Biden commission because it also included provisions to cut loopholes and subsidies to the rich. He took his ball and left the talks all the while complaining that the deal wasn't big enough anyway, it didn't have enough cuts.

    This is the same sneering clown who said the GOP has already comppromised because they are even talking about raising the debt ceiling, ignoring the fact that the debt ceiling merely pays for past sins, the same sins he, McConnell, and Boehner voted for in the past. Now this nitwit has the gall to call Obama out because he has decided to play by the GOP play book.

    McConnell has been playing politics with this one right along, going along with the leadership in the House that claims they do not have the votes to raise the debt limit.

    Now when the Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders challenge him to 'do his job' and legislate he folds like a cheap suit and offers to dump the whole decision on Obama so he can blame him later. I suppose you would call that leadership. It sure isn't doing his job.

    What did the GOP give up? They pretty much had the deal in hand that Boehner asked for last year.
    In working with Biden, they complained the deal wasn't big enough and included revenue so Cantor walked and said Obama and Boehner would have to come up with a deal. When Obama and Boehner came up with the outline of the 'big deal', Cantor didn't like that either and said let's go back to the 'smaller' Biden deal, the negotiations he earlier walked out on.

    The GOP turned down the deal Boehner asked for when they got it. They turned down the Biden deal before it suddenly looked more attractive. They turned down the 'big fix' Boehner and Obama came up with. Then they talk about dumping all responsibility for the credit ceiling on Obama. Then Cantor says lets go for a temporary fix something the GOP refused to even consider a month ago.

    How can you take these guys seriously?

    They are not interested in reducing the deficit. It's all pure bullshit, the ideology of the nitwits in the Tea Party more interested in their own ideology than in the welfare of the country.

    Time to wake up and drink the coffee Dougo.



  10. Well, if the Federals cannot borrow the money from the "Market", guess they'll just print it, then?