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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

War Journalism vs. Peace Journalism

I completed my Transcend Peace University's online Peace Journalism course over a month ago (see previous blog here), but I wanted to share with you my final assignment in which we had to take a form of war journalism and convert it into peace journalism.

So this assignment was to re-write an existing piece of journalism (war journalism) and transform it into Peace Journalism. Honestly, it's not the type of article that I would ever want to write again- my interests in peace are on a more human to human level and not on the geo-political level but it alas it was the completing assignment for the course. I received good feedback, so I hope it's helpful in showing the difference between traditional journalism and peace journalism.

The original article:

America pumps billions into space-age weapons
Alex Spillius in Washington
November 15, 2007

THE Pentagon is spending billions of dollars on new forms of space warfare in order to counter the growing risk of missile attack from rogue states and the anti-satellite capabilities of China.

The US Congress has allocated funds to develop futuristic weapons and intelligence systems that operate beyond the Earth's atmosphere as America looks past Iraq and Afghanistan to the wars of the future.

The most ambitious project in a $US459 billion ($516 billion) defence spending bill is the Falcon, a reusable hypersonic vehicle that could fly at six times the speed of sound and deliver nearly 5500 kilograms of bombs anywhere in the world within minutes.

The bombs' destructive power would be multiplied by the Earth's gravitational pull as they travelled at up to 25 times the speed of sound towards their target.

The cost of the vehicle has not been revealed but a spokesman for the Pentagon's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency said the first test flight was scheduled for next year.

Loren Thompson, a leading military analyst in Washington, said the focus of the project was attacking "time-sensitive targets" in states such as North Korea and Iran, which have either developed nuclear weapons without international approval or are suspected of doing so.

"If we received intelligence that a strike was about to happen on South Korea, or on Israel, we would want to destroy that within minutes, and not hours. But from most current US bases that is not feasible."

In a 621-page report on the Defence Appropriations Bill, congressmen from Republican and Democratic parties said: "Enhancing these capabilities is crucial, particularly following the Chinese anti-satellite weapons demonstration last January."

In China's first successful test of an anti-satellite system, a ground-based missile fired into space shattered a weather satellite in low Earth orbit.

Telegraph, London

Now, here's my Peace Journalism version of the article:

PJ Final exercise

Megumi Nishikura

Jan 18, 2007

The Pentagon continues to spend billions of dollars on building new forms of space weaponry as a precautionary response to potential threats from countries it deems as rogue.

They are particularly concerned with the new missile capabilities of China which in January of 2007 successfully tested a direct ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon.

Congress has now approved new funding to further develop intelligence systems and weapons capabilities to ensure its security and superpower status beyond the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan. As of now the defense budget stands at $US 459 billion, a 7-percent increase over 2006 and a 48-percent increase over 2001.

The Falcon, the Pentagon’s most ambitious project, is a reusable hypersonic vehicle capable of flying six times the speed of sound and delivering 5500 kg of explosives within minutes.

The cost of the Falcon project has not yet been announced but a spokesman from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said the first test flight was scheduled for next year.

However, one expert said the Pentagon’s continuing arms build-up could be explained in light of a fifteen-year-old strategy document, Defense Planning Guidance, drawn up by three officials who later went on to become leading lights in the so-called Project for a New American Century.

Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, said the note had proved highly influential in setting strategic military and foreign policies under the administration of George W Bush, with its three authors, Lewis Libby, Zalmay Khalilzad and Paul Wolfowitz, appointed to senior posts.

“Defense Planning Guidance sets America the task of preventing the emergence of a strategic rival in three key areas of the globe – Europe, the Middle East and East Asia”, Prof Lynch said. “For China to acquire the capability of weaponising space would be seen, under this doctrine, as a potential threat to US full spectrum dominance – and would demand a pre-emptive response”.

Tensions over the weaponization of space have existed between China and the US for over a decade. Tensions were particularly heightened when the US and Japan began developing a missile defense system which China views as threatening its national interests, especially over the military conflict in Taiwan.

While China has called for controls on space weaponization for some time, the US has done little in response. Now, some international analysts say that China's ASAT test is a direct challenge to the US, even though Chinese officials have assured the international community that their ASAT test was not “aimed” at anyone

Both Republican and Democratic congressmen approved the new funding as a reaction to China's ASAT tests. The 621-page Defense Appropriations Bill report states: “Enhancing these capabilities is crucial, particularly following the Chinese anti-satellite weapons demonstration last January.”

If both countries continue to increase their space weapon stockpiles, relations between may echo the Cold War strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction that existed between the US and Soviet Union .

The Center for Nuclear proliferation Studies (CNS) and other academics asses that there are many economic and technical limitations to China's program and that at this stage their ASAT tests cannot be taken seriously. They suggest that the major powers in space—the US, Russia and the EU—can take the "initiative and push for a moratorium on the development and testing of anti-satellite weaponry."

Joan Johnson-Freese, the Department Chair of National Security Studies, suggests that a renewed approach to strategic communication is necessary to enhance mutual understanding and address the issues that exists between the two nations.

Communication strategies between the US and China should be “ aimed to understand global attitudes and cultures, engage in a dialogue of ideas between people and institutions, advise policymakers, diplomats, and military leaders on the public opinion implications of policy choices, and influence attitudes and behavior through communications strategies,” as stated by the 2004 report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communications.

It is very likely that the US cannot sustain its sole dominance over the weaponization of space, instead the two nation must build trust through dialogue to tackle the issues which is in the best interest of both nations.

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