This is section fourteen

TO BOLDLY GO ...

Ronald Gordon Ziegler "Last night I had the strangest dream I ever had before. I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. I dreamed I saw a mighty room and the room was filled with men, and the paper they were signing said they'd never fight again..." But it was no dream. It was August 1928, and the place was Paris. And the paper they were signing was called the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Still, that was not the end of it. American representatives met with others from Britain, Japan, Italy, and France in London and agreed at a naval conference to maintain limitations which had been placed on capital ships, and added controls over subs, destroyers, and cruisers. From the autumn of 1921, we had been lulled into naive complacency. A Five Power Treaty was addended by a Nine Power Treaty and then a Four Power Treaty. But the Washington Conference was supposed to be a renunciation of aggression, and yet, while it can be seen as ushering a decade of 'peace,' in reality, it served as a smokescreen for war preparation. Even as our naval power was being decimated, the valiant efforts of Billy Mitchell to promote an air power led to the General's conviction on "conduct which brought discredit upon the military service" and resulted in a five year suspension from active duty on December 7, 1925. But the agitation did not fall on deaf ears. Coolidge did take some minor steps. His committee at least opened the door for movement toward creation of an air force. A year and a half later, Lindbergh's feat helped convince some that Mitchell had some valid points, and all the while Admiral William Moffett more quietly had been pursuing a parallel goal. From his position as head of the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics after 1921, he was pushing for carriers and cruisers and battleships with catapult launched aircraft. It was 1935 before the Flying Fortress first flew. In the interim, the Japanese had expanded their Empire over the Korean peninsula and Taiwan. In 1931, they seized control of Manchuria and the following January launched their onslaught on Shanghai. Their expanding presence in China led to the sinking of the US gunboat Panay on the Yangtze River December 12, 1937. Even earlier, following his March on Rome, Mussolini had captured power, and the ensuing military build-up brought on Italy's invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. And that proved to be but a ripple of the impending typhoon which was dramatically portrayed with Germany's march into the Rhineland a year after that, just three years into Hitler's reign of terror, and seven years after Kellogg- Briand. The stumbling responsiveness to such events by the United States reflected its ostrich- like posture in an increasingly volatile world. Our movement from coalescence with the Munich accords went but grudgingly from neutrality to 'cash and carry' and 'lend-lease.' There was serious contemplation of a constitutional amendment in 1937 which would have required that Congress submit any declaration of war to a popular plebiscite, a mere two years before we began to mobilize our resources in the Arsenal of Democracy. But all of this is no revelation. One can look to John Kennedy's master's thesis at Harvard in 1939 for a dissenting caveat. Why England Slept portrayed the dilemna in clear terms. But it has always been a struggle. In the years before the First World War, there were efforts at containing the arms race, but it was not so much the strength of the sides as it was perception by one or the other that they might achieve a strategic advantage, that led to war. Indeed, the balance of power held 'peace' through a variety of conflicts which simmered over Korea and Manchuria, in the Balkans, in South Africa, and more that militated toward confrontation. Importantly, too, it was a desire by Britain that no other power challenge its hegemony, its strength, its empire, or its industry and markets, which brought about confrontation with the Germans. The example of Russia in the early part of the century is very revealing. It had built a formidable military might -- that is, if it had been a century earlier. They were ill-prepared for Japan, let alone for conflict with the Kaiser's forces. There was no contest. And the lessons from disarmament and lack of development, repeated ad infinitum throughout history, are not veiled in the least. Nor are they new or uniquely modern. When the Armada arrived in 1588 off the coast of England, it may have thought itself invincible, but Sir Francis Drake understood that the fleet he had built would sail circles around such big tubs, and the Armada went the way of the dinosaur. With it, so did Spain's power. Like the Great Wall, the Maginot Line was outmoded before it was begun, much along the lines of Russia's military might. Functional preparedness is related to economic development, war and peace. And no better examination for the course is available to us that the struggle of our own history. The successful development of the United States has been correlated to not just our technological advance but to its application to weaponry and power. We have been able also to advance by such investment which in return has generated the wealth creation prerequisite for affording it, and which has created our standard of living and position in the world. It is significant that among the earliest applications of what has come to be called the American System of Manufacture was the production of armaments by Eli Whitney. And the country was in the forefront of technical innovations in weaponry, as well, from Samuel Colt's six-shooter to the adoption of 'rifling' by Union forces during the Civil War. Throughout the history of this country, the struggle for development has revolved around such matters. Once Hamilton left the Cabinet, the advocacy of an important military presence floundered. Largely with Jefferson's influence, the naval force was virtually scuttled and the army dwindled to a mere 700 men. We paid a high price for this short-sightedness, from conflict with Indians whose genuine grievances were fertile soil for British schemes, and from the French on the high seas. Adams' founding of the Navy in part to counter that was abruptly undermined when Jefferson took over. His 'mosquito fleet' was open invitation to harassment by Barbary Pirates, but the greater cost culminated in attack on the young Republic which climaxed in the War of 1812 and nearly cost us our independence. All through the early national and ante-bellum period, the country and its development were hindered by anti-science, anti-technological, anti-military, and anti-industrial biases of first Jeffersonians and then Jacksonians. Among the greatest ironies of the era was Robert Fulton's attempts to foster steamboat production in the United States, but also production of his invention of submarines and torpedoes. The Democracy stood in the way. It was not until the Civil War that we moved in that direction, and, indeed, it was the Germans more than a century after their invention who initially deployed U-boats. Had the United States possessed the overwhelming military capacity it could have, and the political will required, had secession still occurred, which would have been less likely, the terrible costs of the early years of the conflict could have been averted. With Lincoln, we undertook the kind of mobilization which would secure that sort of posture and shorten the war. Beyond rifling and associated upgrading of hand-held arms, the Union undertook the construction of steam-powered iron-clads with screw propellers and turret guns. Lincoln, of course, was responsible for much more. With resistance minimized by secession having removed most of the Democrats and having left the Congress firmly in Republican hands, enactment of a national banking system was possible. Combined with greenbacks and a publicly-funded debt, they were able to effect the basis for financing the war and industrialization, including the requisite infrastructure. Initiatives were launched to develop the Great Plains in what had been considered the Great American Desert, and they sat about building railroads and telegraph systems. Military strength again languished throughout most of the last part of the century. Despite some positive action under Benjamin Harrison, most of the period is marked by political resistance that undermined the armed forces of the country. On the heels of Alfred Mahan's important treatise regarding this matter, changes began to be instituted with McKinley, and toward somewhat alternative ends with Theodore Roosevelt, though they did result in an elevated armed capacity, including sea power. Most recently, we have the massive military build-up on the Reagan watch. The inclusion in this effort of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative was a crucial component of the strength which directly contributed to the demise of the Soviet Empire. And it was this capacity which made possible George Bush's Desert Storm intercession. And yet, we have since then undercut that military capacity, so much so that by the time of Clinton's ever deeper cuts against his loathed military, nothing of the scale of Desert Storm could be undertaken now. Clinton has strapped our decimated armed capacity with his submission to Boutrous Ghali with the commitment of tens of thousands of American troops to Haiti, Macedonia, Bosnia, and elsewhere (soon, perhaps, to the Golan Heights?). There has been also a massive collapse of morale to accompany the weakened capacity. The only other recent destruction of the military that comes close is that effected by Carter and Johnson before him. Although it is unlikely that, given Clinton's mind-set, a Vietnam experience will be repeated, his inclination to 'cut and run' is no less harmful, that tendency being toward a pulling the rug out from under not only our military, but also our alliances, most notably perhaps NATO. But the last thirty years have also witnessed massive underfunding of our efforts in space exploration. Ever since Johnson, it has been relegated to minimalist support. Like the military, to which it is obviously ancillary, such programs are crucial for their wealth generation, technological spin-offs, and spirit which they instill in the people. Without NASA, we would not only still be using slide rules rather than pocket calculators, but we would neither have such vital 'conveniences' as PC's, new plastics and adhesives, microwaves, VCR's, miniaturized surgery, and much more. The nature of investment has been spectacular. But it has not been enough. For our own development, for our own security, from the standpoint of the prospect of peace, we should be leading mankind into space. The people who do so will be those who command leadership of the world through the next century and beyond. And, if we fail, we will be writing an epitaph for our Republic, as it sinks into the shadows of history as a bright flash which could not sustain its vision, dream, or will. There are already too many signs of that descent. But whichever course we take will be the one which we ourselves choose. If we had spent the $5.3 trillion we have thrown at poverty over these last thirty years on space, poverty would not have increased as it has. The despair of runaway dependency and the weight of burgeoning bureaucracy would not be the albatross it has become. We can commence by expanding the shuttle fleet in the short-term. Two hundred years ago, construction of the first frigates for a new navy were being initiated. Thus, appropriately, we could order the additional shuttles Congress, Constitution, President, United States, Constellation, and Chesapeake, as a first small step. As it is expanded even beyond that, there is a prospect for second and third generation shuttles, commencing with superjets which will allow them to 'fly' into earth orbit. The greater the investment in shuttles we make, the sooner it will be that we can move to the second generation fleet. As a staging ground for excursions beyond that, it will be necessary to break through the constraints of the debate about a space station, to the construction of many such stations, as staging stations, way stations, research and development centers, military bases, components in communications networks, and colonized 'settlements' to meet the necessities which will quickly be required by hundred of thousands in space. A vital task to be carried out at such facilities will be the production of 'ferries' which will quickly be called upon to conduct continuous traffic between these stations and initially the moon and Mars, on both of which a number of bases and colonies will be set up. In addition to all of the tasks enumerated for the space stations, among operations at the landed centers will undoubtedly be mining. But the issue is not what will be done when we get there. In fact, it isn't even a question of how to do it. The plans for all of that and more have been laid out for some time. What remains to be decided is when we will do it, and that is rather simply a matter of political will. That resolve seems lacking, at least in our politicians. At a time when budgetary constraints create conditions of fiscal stress, it is difficult perhaps to envision pursuit of new policy initiatives at all, let alone any of such magnitude. It is rather easy, especially for politicians, to find ways to spend money. Nor is it likely that the entitlement budget will suddenly be shifted over to space research and exploration. But there are methodologies which can be employed in the opportunity cost choices that are to be made. The fundamental realization required to understand the potential involved here is that of profit, not just cost. There is money to be made in space. Once we have recognized that fact, the rest is a cakewalk. That profit will not come from government largess or largesse in contracting out work alone. Indeed, 'government' per se, that inefficient and ineffective leviathan, should be primarily ancillary to the operation. A space command must obviously have some governmental connection since it is, in no small part, a military/defense/police operation. But beyond that it should be fundamentally flowing on extra-governmental investment. Such investment could be in the form of shares of stock available for purchase by 1) American firms and individuals 2) foreign or international firms and individuals 3) foreign governments, with dividends on investment to the share-holders. Each dollar of such investment could be matched by US government funds, from money acquired through the sale of special issue Treasury bonds bearing immediate 8 % per annum return for the first ten years of the project, rates thereafter to be indexed to the discount rate. The Command could be operated by a Board of Directors, consisting of perhaps 15 individuals. One of these would be a Chair appointed by the President with a term of four years to begin one year after each Inauguration. There could be seven additional members to be named by the President with Senatorial approval. The other seven board members could be elected by the stock-holders. The Chair could also serve as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, carrying with it the rank of Admiral/General, and also as a member of the Cabinet. Operations could be funded by annual bond sales of $200 billion and additional annual stock sales of $200 billion per annum for each of the first ten years of operation. Additional stock sales after that would require approval of the President, Congress, the Board, and the SEC. The Command would be able to borrow on its own authority after ten years of operation. Such financing would allow a total funding at some $4 trillion over the ten initial years. Stock shares would be tradable. The federal government would be the guarantor of only the bonds that it floated. Additional revenues could be obtained from licenses sold or leased and contracts concluded by the Command to those firms and/or governments wanting to involve themselves in operations through the Command for profit -- from manufactures, mining, transportation, and recreation, and the like. A hypothetical prospective Command structure would have to encompass perhaps four categories of operations: Education, Military, Operations, and Research and Development. A not unrealistic objective of 100 plus vessels, stations, and bases would be the aim, based on the assessment of the project's needs as the operation is implemented, to be phased in over the first ten years of its operation. This would permit the Command to be fully operationalized by the year 2010, with prospects of unlimited potential beyond that. It is likely that by that time, the wealth producing capabilities would demand additional schedules in especially landed and related operations on the moon and Mars. This is an ambitious scenario, but it is in no sense stargazing. The technology already exists. Only the political will to commence the project would be needed to launch such a Command initiative. It would in short order pay for itself, become self-supporting, and even return handsomely to investors and even to the federal government (which would be a primary share-holder). Furthermore, and with a mind to current budgetary constraints and the already over-burdened American taxpayer, it would not add to either deficit or debt per se and, in fact, would become a major source of government revenue in a rather short time frame. The specifics of this articulation are not the issue. Plans for even bolder operations have long been in the public domain. To command the will to undertake such a project requires leadership with vision and courage, two special traits which have always marked our national character. In that pursuit, it will take leadership capable of inspiration to begin the course. As the initial 'history' was intended to portray, our preparation for such endeavors is the path to peace and economic development as well as to the position our Republic will be able to hold over the next century and beyond. What is more, all of this, and more, is going to be done. Whether we are bold enough to take the lead at this juncture will determine whether it will be done now or later, as well as whether the benefits to be reaped from it for mankind (and our nation) will come by our hand or not. America's 'leadership' has often underestimated the vision and boldness of this people. The question is as to whether or not our leaders have the vision to so boldly go . . . Engage! Ronald Gordon Ziegler to the top Continue

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