Monday, January 09, 2006

Un-mothballing Space: How high can Iraq fly?

Look, I know it's mayhem over there, but even so, this is a time for broad thoughts. So, if it has to be that Iraq is now an "emancipated" country, well then, let's consider a new global attitude. Let us welcome them, embrace the exciting potential of a new country. Remember how good we felt back in 1776? How much hope and vision there was to right what was wrong about the world? Let's allow them a chance to distinguish themselves from the other 193 nations of our planet. Make a lasting gesture towards our collective future. This is what "new" can do.

So what will New Iraq be known for? Oil? (Done. Too messy.) New Energy? (Good, but unlikely to win favor with the West.) Religious tolerance? (Very good, but maybe too hot a topic?) That only leaves one thing - Space! What a turnaround that would be, if right under our meddling noses this modest new government quietly announced that they had a plan of their own: to explore and understand space on a level no nation has ever attempted.

Ever since the cold war thaw, space programs have been lackluster and washed-up shadows of their former glory days. Maybe they really were more about the competition than the rockets' red glare. If so, then what an opportunity there is now for someone to relaunch a space program that is informed by science and humanity rather than politics and one-upmanship. I mean if Neil Diamond gets a comeback, then surely space programs deserve another crack at the big time.

So, while we in the US are sending go carts to Mars, what if Iraq were to pool it's resources, bring in the best talent from Russia and other former space programs, and get back to mounting serious megamissions - manned and womanned space flights that boldly go where no country has ever gone before. And remember, space programs are responsible for groundbreaking, energy-efficient and generally cool new technologies. What a perq. The Iraqis might also look to the Burt Rutan's of the world - visionary private citizens fumbling with their millions to come up with lean mean space technology. Surely these entrepreneurs would consider redirecting their attentions to a such an initiative. One that might, incidentally, put the aftermath of the war in someone else's hands.

The way I see it, every gallon of Iraqi oil is tainted with the blood of Iraqis, Americans and every other country on earth. We are all complicit for the damage and deathtoll (even if the powers that be were unstoppable). If you are against the war, you should be willing to say 'no thanks' to that oil or whatever spoils the war brings forth. Let whatever the Iraqis have (after reconstruction) go to some greater cause. A space program, disease prevention, education, etc. Let them decide. Let the people of Iraq have a chance to show some vision, to be magnanimous in the face of imposed squalor.


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