Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Satellite Security v. Human Security

A while back I blogged about the concept of "human security." But not expansively. My students sometimes get a little confused about this term, it meaning so many different things to different people. And Roland Paris up at University of Ottawa has argued famously that the concept represents more hot air than a genuine paradigm shift in strategic thinking.

So here's a story that both illustrates the concept of human security and lends credence to Paris' argument. It seems a US spy satellite is dropping out of orbit and will likely hit ground somewhere in North America in the next few weeks. Big issue for the US military, it seems.

A human security frame, which privileges protecting individuals from threats to their security, would probably encourage consideration of the populated areas that could be affected. Instead, according to the London Register, experts at the defense thinktank Global Security is primarily concerned with the risks to "the secrets of the satellite":

"One concern the intelligence community is going to have is that parts of this satellite will fall into the hands of the Russians or Chinese or somebody else," says Global Security director John Pike.

According to Pike, the satellite carries a new generation of spy equipment, able to provide round-the-clock intelligence.

"The hopes were that this was going to be a more capable, less expensive spy satellite or radar satellite that could see objects through clouds and in the dark."
Oh yes, that would have been just fine.

1 comment:

Cleitus the Black said...

By Zeus!

A rogue satellite hurtling towards Earth, threatening distruction of property, loss of life, or worse yet, exposure of State secrets?

Of course, this could probably all be easily avoided if the US was to ask China to be so kind as to shoot down our malfunctioning space hulk with one of their nifty anti-satellite missiles!

Don't mind me, now... Just thinking aloud here...

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