There’s a great article in NRO by Dave Kopel and Glenn Reynolds about the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the colonization of Mars. Like many international treaties, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty was designed with the best of intention but has only a tenous connection with reality. The truth is, space isn’t going to be explored just for the joy of exploring space. We need to have the ability to exploit resources and terrority to make it worthwhile.
The article indicates that the Treaty was based less upon any real diplomatic intentions, but was a way of shuffling resources away from space exploration and towards foreign aid payments to help fight the Cold War. Now that the US no longer needs to play realpolitik with the USSR, it’s time to get serious about space again.
The fact is, space exploration is more important than ever. We need a national symbol of technology and progess to counter the retrograde notions of Islamic fascism and the anti-technological rantings of the Far Left. We need something that shows America’s technical prowess to the world, and will create the kind of technological offshoots that the Shuttle and Apollo programs created.
Ditching the 1967 treaty and removing the barriers to space travel are important first steps. Knowing the Mars is now far more accessible than it once was gives us an opportunity to create the first permanent manned habitat on another planet. If President Bush wants to show real vision, it’s time to make a Kennedy-esque call to put humans on Mars before the end of the decade. It can be done, and it would be a lasting symbol of the values of the West over those of barbarism and terror.
UPDATE: The article has been picked up by Slashdot and has generated a lot of idiotic comments about how terrible private property is. There are some good comments mixed in, but quite a few would rather harangue on "right-wingers" than make a substantive argument. One wonders if the people browsing Slashdot know that capitalism is the reason why we have computers, web browsers, and we have an Internet that’s not the exclusive toy of rich universities and government labs…