In a reply to my last post, Mark claims that he “pretty much nuked this one over on my own blog.” Man, they sure don’t make nukes the way the used to….
Jon ends this section with a very oft repeated line that people have used over the years when they doubt the bad intentions of tyrannies. I think that the history of the current government in China should give one pause before ridiculing the idea that it might break treaties when convenient.
I don’t doubt that China might have bad intentions. What I do doubt is that they’re stupid enough to act on those bad intentions when the costs would obviously far outweigh the benefits. I couldn’t care less about the “intentions” of dictators, so long as they lack the capability to act on them. As I pointed quite clearly, if China broke this particular treaty, they would be putting billions of dollars of existing assets at risk, not to mention commiting a blatant and premeditated act of war upon the US if it were dumb enough to murder alt.spacers.
If China murdered a bunch of US citizens in a case where they were obviously the aggressors, do you think for a second that the US wouldn’t retaliate, or at least sanction some sort of retaliation? Do you honestly think that China is so freaking stupid that they would do something like that? And for what? A chunk of rock that they probably couldn’t even get any economic benefit out of during a shooting war?
I don’t worry about their intentions because I know that they fully understand how stupid it would be to act upon them.
In any case, Jon’s citing of the Outer Space Treaty does not address the scenario. The Outer Space Treaty applies to national states, not to private entities. The Chinese would not, under the treaty, be able to restrict access to the Moon by–say–a NASA expedition. But the treaty is silent about private entities. So, the Chinese giving the boot to Lunacorp (or pick your favorite name) may be aggressive and bad, but it would not be illegal under the Outer Space Treaty.
Actually Mark is wrong here, but that’s just par for the course. If he actually bothered to read a little about this treaty, he would see that private entities are treated as subsets of the state under which they operate. China has no right to prevent Lunacorp for instance from landing on the moon. If they took force against Lunacorp, it would be an act of war against the US. How dense is Mark? How desparate is he to find some straw he can grasp to justify a stupid and irrational space transportation architecture?
That’s an interesting scenario, an alt.space company proposing to wage war against the largest nation state on Earth. Let us suppose that a private company actually decides to threaten China’s space assets. China would be quite within its rights to call that piracy and terrorism, proving its point that such a company should not be allowed to operate on the Moon or even exist. It would demand that whatever country that company was incorporated in should seize it’s assets and arrest it’s corporate officers. If that country failed to do so, China’s position would be that said country would be aiding and abetting piracy and terrorism and that China would therefore be free to act accordingly.
Oh, threatening to murder citizens of another country is kosher, but even hinting that such an action might have negative results for China is terrorism? Maybe in Mark’s wingbat world. No, placing a military base on the Moon in the first place would be illegal, using it to threaten others would be more so. Acting upon that threat would be an act of war. Reminding China that were it to commit an act of war, and a violation of the treaty it’s supposedly trying to defend, would result in them no longer being protected by said treaty isn’t terrorism.
As for Sun Tzu, let me assure Jon and all that I have read the book. Believe me, despite what Jon and others have said, the establishment of a Chinese base on the Moon would be a classic Sun Tzu tactic. Can anyone imagine any sane person running a private company proposing to engage in a military confrontation without the support of another nation state with the military power to prevail? I think not. China would thus be able to, in effect, own the Moon without fighting.
And can anyone imagine China trying to start a shooting war with the US over a private company trying to land on the Moon? Private US companies are still made of US citizens. If they are acting legally, and are attacked illegally by China, that would be murder, and an act of war against the US.
Now, if the private company were dumb enough to actually attack China’s space assets first, he might have a point. But since the private company is within its rights to land on the Moon in the first place, they would probably call China’s bluff and remind them that any action they take would be an act of War. I ask again, does Mark seriously think China is dumb enough to risk so much for so little?