Posted by Lexington Green on September 25th, 2003 (All posts by Lexington Green)
There is post with some good links about the Chinese space program on Metafilter. I had a bunch of thoughts. I grew up on space exploration and science fiction, and Robert Heinlein’s novels featuring a colonized solar system. I remember the moon landing. I was 5. All very nice and a source of national pride, etc.
The best comment I ever heard anyone make about it was my mother, a true Jacksonian, Boston Irish style. She said if she had been Neil Armstrong, she’d have planted the flag on the moon and claimed it for America. “They could court martial me when I got back. It would be too late.” She would have. Old time lefties used to say the space program was all a front for the Pentagon. If only it were true. I wish we had gone into space to seize and hold the high ground over the planet to obtain a permanent and crushing military superiority for the United States. That strikes me as a worthy use of my tax money. Instead it was, to be blunt, a gigantic publicity stunt, which yielded us no concrete advantage at all. The Chinese, give them this much, will be seeking concrete military advantage with their space program, gaining experience with large, long-range missiles, with anti-satellite technology, with the military exploitation of space, developing the means to deny the use of space to the United States, their main adversary, the dragon they will have to slay one day, or at least drive out of the Pacific basin, back over the horizon to its lair in North America. Even a “moon base” could be used as a weapon platform to outflank satellite-based ABM technology. (See Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. A classic.)
The Chinese will probably talk the claptrap of humanity exploring the cosmos, the expansion of the frontiers of knowledge for all, blah, blah, blah. Unlike us, they aren’t stupid enough to believe in that stuff. They will do what is good for China, which means what is bad for China’s enemies, especially us. That’s what I’d do if I were them, and I don’t hold it against them and I’d expect no less.
How do say Jacksonian in Chinese?