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Keep Kicking That Strawman
Mark Whittington once again demonstrates his inability to understand the arguments against his wacky "Chinese-taking-over-the-Moon" hysteria:
Of course I am assured that the Chinese would not even think of behaving badly in space. That would be "stupid."
No, Mark. What is stupid is thinking that anyone has ever made such an argument. Or at least anyone at this web site. Perhaps you're arguing with someone at some fantasy web site in your own mind.
Just more evidence of Mark's continuing flight from reality, and another demonstration of why it's so difficult to take him seriously.Posted by Rand Simberg at November 15, 2005 07:37 AM
If you don't take him seriously, then why read him? Itching for a debate?Posted by Leland at November 15, 2005 09:15 AM
I wonder who is responsible for this amusing typo:
. . . Chinese efforts to secure energy resources from all over the world to meet its yawning needs . . .
Do the Chinese need to yawn more than we do? To be fair, that word choice appears to be in Frank Gaffney's original piece.Posted by Bill White at November 15, 2005 09:21 AM
I find him occasionally entertaining.Posted by Rand Simberg at November 15, 2005 09:24 AM
Shades of Keith Cowing. :-)
Do you have to take Abbott and Constello seriously, in order to watch them?
>> meet its yawning needs . . .
> Do the Chinese need to yawn more than we do
Yawn (v): 1, To open the mouth wide with a deep inhalation 2. to open wide, to gape
Posted by at November 15, 2005 10:44 AM
Just so Rand and everyone else will know, my parting remark in the post Rand finds so objectionable is actually a push back at Jon Goff for the following:
"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?"
Rand really needs to learn that not everything (especialy what I write) is about him.
BTW, Bill, "yawning" in Gaffney's contex means "wide or large" I suspect.Posted by Mark R. Whittington at November 15, 2005 11:11 AM
Sorry, Mark, but your strawman doesn't even apply to Jon. He never claimed that "the Chinese would not even think of behaving badly in space."
What he claimed is that they wouldn't be so stupid as to actually attempt to claim the moon. What he didn't claim, but is equally true, is that neither they, or anyone (including your beloved NASA), is going to conquer the moon with little capsules on expensive throwaway rockets. And the notion that they're going to do it in our lifetimes at their current pace is hilarious.
But dream on.Posted by Rand Simberg at November 15, 2005 11:26 AM
(in the traditional sense of the word)Posted by Cecil Trotter at November 15, 2005 11:44 AM
What he claimed is that they wouldn't be so stupid as to actually attempt to claim the moon
Well, here's John's comments:
Yeah, the Chinese may get there with a few dozen employees and setup a small base. They might even do so before private enterprise gets there. And when private companies get there, they'll land a couple miles over and setup their own facilities. As will another company, and another, and another. They probably won't mind having another trading partner out there. The important thing to remember is that due to the OST that China signed, they can't claim land there any more than we can. They can only exclude others from interfering with their stuff that they bring there. The moon has the surface area of Africa. Do you really think that a dozen Chinese guys are really going to be able to fence the whole thing off before private enterprise gets there?
And private companies, Americans that they are, will also have guns. I'm not sure what Mark's point is.
It strikes me that John is claiming that 1) China will honor the Outer Space Treaty, and 2) that the risk of a shooting war with China (assuming China becomes established on the Moon first) is negligiable.
My take is that there's a bunch of stuff that we really need to wait and see. First, China's space program and alt-space projects are both moving rather slow at the moment. In a few years, I think we'll get a better idea of where this stuff is going to end up.
Personally, I favor the alt-space side because it'll have to address and master the genuine problems of space development (eg, launch costs to LEO) in order to succeed. While the Chinese space program can "succeed" even at elevated cost. Also, alt-space teams (particularly ones from the developing world) will be able to take risks that a politically oriented space program cannot.
Second, while Mark has on occasion told us to ignore the example of the exploration of the New World. However, it is a good example of how conflicts at the national or personal level can become violent and nasty (eg, the seizure of New York City from the Dutch, several conflicts between the English and French, trade wars involving fur, gold, cattle and sheep, land). There's no obvious reason this couldn't happen on the Moon (or elsewhere in the Solar System) particularly if someone has the strongest presence in a region.
However, I tend to agree with Rand, the current toy programs at the current plodding rates aren't going to result in control of the Moon by a single party.
I think Karl's second to last paragraph is key to helping to understand the problem. Assuming that the Chinese (or any other power of its ilk) will behave "rationally" (as defined by the white, American who is defining the term) is very dangerous. The Chinese operate from self interest and a sense that they are destined to supplant the United States as the sole super power. They will not flinch from doing anything based on a western sense of morality or any but their own definition of what constitutes an acceptable risk.Posted by Mark R. Whittington at November 15, 2005 12:37 PM
Well Mark, if possession of the moon comes down to a shooting war, is it in the Chinese interest to establish a self-sufficient colony on the moon (necessarily self-sufficient due to the long supply lines), one which would thus be outside the control of China? Similarly, would the US government establish a colony outside their control? I doubt it.Posted by Ed Minchau at November 15, 2005 01:03 PM
> What he claimed is that they wouldn't be so stupid as to actually attempt
Let's accept Mark's assumptions for the moment. The Chinese intend to claim the Moon -- even though it's impossible to exploit it with the ultraexpensive launch systems they're developing -- and that would somehow be a threat to the United States.
If that happens, it would put China in the same class as Dennis Hope and his "Lunar Embassy" -- which has already claimed the Moon. Does that mean Dennis Hope is a threat to the United States?
>> The Chinese, social-ists that they are, will have the guns.
This still raises the same question -- if these hypothetical Chinese sinonauts have guns, how does Mark expect NASA astronauts (who don't have guns) to stop them???
If Mark called for sending US Marines to the Moon, his arguments would at least be internally consistent. But he doesn't want to send in the Marines -- he wants to send unarmed scientists! Shades of Jacques Chirac.
A realistic scenario for Chinese aggression might involve an invasion of Taiwan, at a time when US carriers are tied up in some other part of the world such as the Middle East. If we follow the "evil alt space libertarian" path, the US could respond with quick strikes by military space plane squadrons based in the continental US.
To me, developing military capabilities seems a better way of deterring Chinese aggression than sending unarmed scientists to collect rocks and leave a few plaques.Posted by Edward Wright at November 15, 2005 01:43 PM
Ed Minchau. Interesting question. I suppose it would depend on who the Chinese will send to their settlement. Fanatically loyal party members whose allegience to Beijing is unquestioned, I suspect.Posted by Mark R. Whittington at November 15, 2005 02:16 PM
Looks like the Chinese government wants to keep the moon for themselves:
http://edition.cnn.com/2005/TECH/space/11/15/china.moon.real.estate.reut/index.htmlPosted by Eric Weder at November 15, 2005 03:04 PM
Edward says...If Mark called for sending US Marines to the Moon, his arguments would at least be internally consistent. But he doesn't want to send in the Marines -- he wants to send unarmed scientists! Shades of Jacques Chirac.
If they were French scientists....or French marines for that matter...how fast can you run on the moon?Posted by Mac at November 15, 2005 04:14 PM
Hey, $37 an acre? It used to be $19. Maybe it's time we set up a land futures market, eh?
Ah, those lunatics!Posted by ken anthony at November 15, 2005 06:57 PM
"Luna" tics.....nice pun Ken.Posted by Mac at November 16, 2005 11:36 AM
"I wonder who is responsible for this amusing typo:"
Is that the first one you noticed? Didn't you see this: "On the even of the President's Asia trip, Frank Gaffney warnes of the danger of coddling the Chinese." That's two typos in the first sentence of Whittington's post! ("event" not "even" and "warns" not "warnes.")
Of course, just because you cannot communicate doesn't mean you don't have something to say, huh?
Then again, the very fact that he chooses to cite Frank Gaffney in an admiring post indicates that he's not a thinking man. Take this from Gaffney's column: "The commission has also helpfully warned about the PRC's increasingly bringing economic dinosaurs -- its biggest "banks" and other state-owned enterprises -- to the U.S. capital markets. By so doing, it is off-loading the financing of otherwise unsustainable entities onto American investors. As a result, the latter are unwittingly helping underwrite the unsavory activities of such enterprises -- including:"
Okay, let's get this right--the Chinese are buying US Treasury Bonds at record rates and that's a bad thing not because the United States is running huge deficits, but because the United States is propping up "unsustainable entities" in China? Who, exactly, is propping up whom in this case? (Hint for those, like Whittington, who obviously didn't do well in school: the Chinese buying US T-bonds means that they are propping up US.)
David, in that context, "even" means the same as "eve". It's an archaic usage, sure, but not strictly incorrect.
And c'mon, are we going to pick nits over the occasional spelling error here? As lnog as teh frsit adn lsat ltteres aer in teh smae revlatie psotiion, teh snetcane is sitll raebdale.Posted by Ed Minchau at November 17, 2005 09:48 AM
"And c'mon, are we going to pick nits over the occasional spelling error here?"
But why not? If you establish a blog, then you are intending to communicate. How effectively you do that is a key part of your value in the blogosphere. And if you are so bloody lazy as to not use a spell checker (which are remarkably cheap...), then you're essentially broadcasting to the world that you're a dip. Whittington has a lot of attitude and operates a blog that he uses to take shots at people without allowing them the opportunity for rebuttal. So why shouldn't he get taken to task for being sloppy as well as getting taken to task for his poorly-argued views?
And while I'm ranting, there isn't anything "occasional" about his spelling errors. They're all over his page. It's like he's typing with his tongue.Posted by David Watson Jr. at November 17, 2005 06:26 PM
It's like he's typing with his tongue.
Posted by Mac at November 18, 2005 11:06 AM
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