There's more space news out folks, courtesy of this story shared by K.M. And it's very intriguing space news at that, because France has announced that it plans to deploy satellites armed with powerful lasers to protect French space-based assets, and this comes shortly after the French President announced the formation of a French space force:
There's more than meets the eye behind these lines:
It sounds like something out of a James Bond adventure, but France is to launch satellites armed with ‘powerful lasers’ into space.
The French Defense Minister Florence Parly said France was not being sucked into an arms race - and insisted the satellites would only be used to defend French space vehicles.
She said that the creation of a new French ‘space command’ announced by the president was central to a strategy to bolster defense capabilities, rather than offensive.
'If we want to be able to carry out real military operations in space, then we need to develop the ability to act alone,' Parly said, speaking at the Lyon-Mont Verdun air base.
'We reserve the right and the means to be able to respond: That could imply the use of powerful lasers deployed from our satellites or from patrolling nano-satellites.' (Emphasis added)
The rationale here is almost exactly the same as that behind President De Gaulle's decision to develop an independent French thermonuclear and strategic missile capability back in the late 1950s, the so-called force de frappe: France, if it was to remain truly sovereign and independent, and not subject to the dictates of Moscow or, more importantly, Washington, had to have the capability to "act alone" (to quote the current article) and to possess the "right and the means to be able to respond" (to quote the current article once again). As a result, France, which could not destroy either country "several times over" did develop the capability - which it still has, incidentally - to deal a crushing and perhaps fatal blow to both. It was the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine, French-style.
Something similar is operating here, particularly in the light of Mr. Trump's announcement of an American space force.
But there's something else operating, and it's even more important. Recently Europe completed a build out of its own financial clearing system independently of the American-dominated SWIFT system based (conveniently enough) in Brussels. Russia and China have been putting the final touches on their own system, and the Japanese of course have a clearing system in widespread use in the western Pacific, think of it as their World War Two "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere," version 2.0. All of these clearing systems are heavily reliant upon space-based communications assets, and they need to be defended. The real question is, defended from whom? The answer, given recent opposition to American unipolarism, is that they need to be defended from American space-based weapons.
So where's the high octane speculation here? So far, there isn't any. These countries are acting in their national interests, and that's to be expected. The real question, in France's case, is whether this capability is to be included in the common European military that Paris and Berlin have signaled they want to create. That remains to be seen, but with the integration a few years ago of large French and German defense contractors (See: German, French defense companies to merge) it could be that this is another step in military integration. If not - and time alone will tell - then one can expect similar moves from the other European powers to create their own space forces.
Again, there's no high octane speculation here. So what, exactly, is my high octane speculation about all of this development of other systems of international financial clearing, with their inevitably corollary, the development of space forces to protect them? To understand my high octane speculation concerning all of this, one has to ignore the Earth-based geopolitics behind it all, and look at the development whole, and independently of that geopolitics. When one does so, an intriguing picture emerges, for what is being built out is redundancy in international financial clearing, with European, Russo-Chinese, and Japanese systems being added to the American-dominated SWIFT system. Four levels of redundancy. If, for whatever reason, the SWIFT system is taken out, three others remain to step into the void. And building out such redundancy - and the means to protect them - is exactly what one would do if one were trying to protect those planetary systems from interdiction by "someone else." In other words, what I am suggesting is that terrestrial geopolitical motivations for doing so, while legitimate, might not be the only nor the deepest reason for doing so. I'm reminded of the observation of the late Colonel Philip Corso in his well-known book The Day After Roswell, where he stated that the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine which lay behind the massive themonuclear weapons stockpiles of the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War (not to mention the nuclear stockpiles of the United Kingdom, France, China, and later India and Pakistan) was as much about deterring that "someone else" as it was about deterring each other. And while we're thinking along these lines, lasers may be adequate for defending satellites or taking others out. But the real question left unanswered in the French announcement is the frequency range of those satellite-based lasers. Might this be a cover for lasers operating in the gamma-ray range of the spectrum, for GRASERS? (Gamma-ray lasers). If so, then we're looking at a defensive capability that could easily become an offensive capability, and a potentially strategic one at that.
If that sounds like science fiction, then recall Reagan's "Star Wars" concept, and the fact that the USA at the time was talking about x-ray lasers, which would have required a nuclear explosion in space to create the x-rays to be cohered into a laser beam. The rumor at the time was that when Dr. Edward Teller phoned the White House after a nuclear underground test, he was phoning to inform Reagan that the concept had worked. The only problem with the idea was, of course, that such weapons were "one shot" affairs. But then an effect - the Mossbauer effect - was discovered that under certain conditions of acoustic stress, certain materials could be made to cohere x-rays and gamma rays into a laser beam... over and over again.
So, yes, I do suspect that behind all the denials that satellite based lasers are purely for defense, that they're not talking about lasers of any ordinary type, and that the real goal is to put weapons in space capable of an offensive and strategic use, zapping asteroids, or whatever (or whoever) else may come wandering into the neighborhood.
The USA and the Russian Federation have already made "space force" announcements, and now France has joined the club. And yes, I'm walking right off the end of the twig of speculation to say that this tends to confirm my view that this may be as much about what may be going on "out there" as it is about what's going on "down here."
See you on the flip side...