"What if all of us in the world discovered that we were threatened by an outer -- power from outer space -- from another planet."
The Honorable Ronald Reagan
United States of America
(Chicago, May 5, 1988).
The Russian nuclear missile threat has diminished. Sunken Soviet submarines lie on the ocean floor, slowly bleeding their radioactivity into the sea. The hastily contrived tomb of what was once Chernobyl crumbles away, creating homes for vermin and winged predators.
With the demise of the Russian nuclear missile force, the attention of American defense scientists and engineers suddenly turned away from Earth to the stars. We're now told that asteroids and comets crashing through the heavens will wreak havoc on Earth, ending life as we know it.
Nemesis. Is the impending terrestrial collision with a five-mile wide asteroid flung into the Earth's orbit by a dwarf star called Nemesis real, imagined, or a handy means of disguising something else? Something so horrific that even the ones standing watch would rather not comprehend. Why else would the defense establishment continue to pump the nation's increasingly scarce financial resources into Star Wars technology ostensibly meant to counter a Soviet missile onslaught, now believed to be have been forever abated.
The juxtaposition of the death star Nemesis and the demise of the Soviet empire must be placed in its proper context. Certain disparate events from the last several decades need to be analyzed.
The United States Navy suddenly intensified its series of geomagnetic profiling flights in the late sixties. Using specially equipped Lockheed P-3B Orions, these flights paid special attention to the Caribbean Sea and the persistent rumors of magnetic anomalies in this region. Aviators reported that their compasses could not be depended upon when flying routes through this area. Some actually became disoriented, crashing into the sea.
About the same time, the United States government launched an extraordinary effort to probe the hydrosphere, the Earth's vast and unforgiving oceans. It was called the "last frontier." These studies were also concentrated in an area located off the coast of the United States in the Caribbean, just south of Bermuda.
Research funds poured forth as though someone had opened King Midas' vaults. Then, just as quickly, the funding dried to a meager trickle. There continued to be rumors from time to time of secret projects. Occasionally, a scientific paper would disclose an event that suggested massive oceanographic research was still underway.
In the early seventies the public was surprised by the accidental unveiling of the Glomar Explorer. The Glomar Explorer was a mysterious ship, ostensibly designed to conduct deep ocean drilling. Its cover as a deep sea drilling platform was blown when newspapers published accounts of non-drilling equipment on its decks. When confronted, the American government retorted that the Glomar Explorer had a simple mission: retrieve sunken Russian submarines.
It seemed that the borders of the last frontier had shut for all time, but not without the news of the so-called "Morrow Affair," news that was quickly disavowed. Even today the official word is that there was no Morrow Affair, that no anomalous magnetic signature was ever recorded in the Caribbean or anywhere else, for that matter, and that the Glomar Explorer was built only to salvage sunken Soviet submarines.
About the same time, NASA began several ambitious programs to explore deep space. Radio telescopes probed the heavens for errant radio signals. Called SETI, the program searched for intelligent life. Plans for Hubble were started and deep space probes were accelerated. It seemed the nation urgently needed to prove that life was unique to this planet. The event called Roswell continues to dominate national debate, despite the government's best efforts to cover it up -- it was after all "just a weather balloon."
Attention has been given to the heavens not for just scientific reasons, but for military ones as well. The need for a manned space station became a critical component of the military mission -- the need for "high ground." The United States military concerned itself with attacks from putative Russian missiles fired from orbiting launch stations -- an event leading to the development of Star Wars technology.
With the advent of the nineties the Russian military system collapsed, suddenly the Russian bear wasn't so fearsome anymore. The demise of the ursine threat did not abate the need for this missile-intercepting technology. Despite the urgent need for deficit reduction and the fundamental redirection of all the world's major economies, neither Star Wars nor Space Station Freedom has suffered deep cut-backs.
Nemesis now sits where Khrushchev once banged his shoe on the lectern wood.