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Dumb, naïve and dangerous

Posted: November 19, 2013 - 1:00am

It may be the dumbest thing this country has ever contemplated. Ever. So inane that it’s hard to believe it’s true.

But rest assured, it’s true.

The U.S. State Department actually wants to allow Russia to establish six of its own satellite monitoring stations on U.S. soil.

You read right. Russian. Satellite. Monitoring. Stations. Here.

It seems the Russians have grown tired of American dominance in satellite and GPS capabilities, and the U.S. State Department wants to help prop up our commercial competitors and chief political antagonists.

Why? Simple. Because they want the Russians to like us.

“For the State Department,” writes the New York Times, “permitting Russia to build the stations would help mend the Obama administration’s relationship with the government of President Vladimir V. Putin, now at a nadir because of Moscow’s granting asylum to (Edward) Snowden and its backing of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.”

The Russians “don’t want to be reliant on the American system and believe that their systems, like GPS, will spawn other industries and applications,” a former senior official in the State Department’s Office of Space and Advanced Technology was quoted by the Times. “They feel as though they are losing a technological edge to us in an important market. Look at everything GPS has done on things like your phone and the movement of planes and ships.”

There’s so much wrong with this satellite picture it’s hard to know where to begin.

How about with the plainly obvious security concerns?

That’s probably what first came to your mind, as it did ours, and you’ll be glad to know those concerns are at least shared by the federal intelligence and military communities. As the Times notes, the CIA and Pentagon fear, rightly, that Russian satellite monitoring systems on U.S. soil will only help boost the precision of Russia’s satellite-aided weaponry – which, by the way, U.S. forces or allies could someday face.

The stations could also give Russia a firmer foothold with which to spy on America and Americans.

Our own government has abused that power. What makes anyone think the Russians wouldn’t?

But just for argument’s sake, let’s assume the most innocuous use of the stations. Even if the Russians only used the U.S. monitoring stations for purely commercial purposes – to better compete with our GPS technology – why on Earth would the United States want to undermine American technological superiority like that? Why undercut American industry that way? Why go out of our way to give a hand up to one of our fiercest competitors and geopolitical rivals?

Maybe we need to do some monitoring of our own: Does anyone in the State Department, for instance, have the first clue about Vladimir Putin’s world views and moral values? One need only witness the carnage in Syria to get a glimpse of Putin’s aims; it is with his acquiescence, and toward his global ends, that the murderous Assad regime has been allowed to wage conventional and chemical war on his own people these past few bloody years.

These people in the State Department are frighteningly naïve.

It’s also likely the monitoring stations agreement would be wholly unilateral – knowing American negotiators, the stations wouldn’t be reciprocal, with six stations of our own on Russian soil. But even if it were, the deal would still be a monumental folly.

Just as alarming as the thought of officially sanctioned Russian monitoring stations on U.S. soil is the fact that there are officials in the State Department who think this is even remotely a good idea.

We need monitoring stations across the U.S., all right.

To watch our government like a hawk.

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