02 February 2005

Mars War Pact

Was the Space Race a cause or symptom of the Cold War? Did the US's winning the Space Race hasten the Cold War's end or prolong the war? Did it cause or did it release the tensions between the Superpowers?

And can it happen again?

The story, which I drafted some years ago and provisionally dubbed the "Mars War Pact", has China and the US competing simultaneously in a new Space Race and in a new Cold War. The former is not farfetched but fact. The latter...well, we can only wait and see, in reality.

Tech Central Station has some interesting reality-based thoughts on this subject from the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds (who has some brief discussions and links on his own site).

But in fantasy, it goes like this...

The chief strategy makers of the US and China have come independently to the realization and acceptance that the human race cannot survive long if constrained to our home planet. This is seen as both a critical problem -- especially for China's billions -- and a great opportunity. But the players also come to the realization that inertia and unenlightened self-interest are ingrained in most of the world. They will never sustain the magnitude of expenditures in effort, energy, and brainpower necessary to make the leap from Planet Earth a reality.

But the players also realize that there is an appetite for such expenditures when the goal is not future generations' migration, but rather War. Humans understand War. Humans will expend nearly unlimited effort, energy, and brainpower to support War, as history has amply proven.

Of course, it defeats the purpose to have everyone kill each other in order to survive. [Ed.: Suspend your disbelief here ... I know people commonly do act in ways that defeat their own purposes. But our players here are the enlightened strategists, not the schmucks]. But the solution seems within grasp ... use the appetite for War to feed the research and engineering necessary to launch a migration to space. Classic bait-and-switch, writ large.

The plan is as follows: China and the US use their tools of diplomacy, espionage, propaganda, and military threat (not action) to enter into a mutually agreed upon Cold War II. A secret War Pact. The first trick is to balance the detente so it does not escalate to real War, while keeping the pawns (billions!) unaware of the pact. The second trick is for both powers to channel energy into a parallel Space Race. The goal this time is to reach Mars with sufficient numbers and technology to terraform it as an additional home for humanity. Kennedy's "Moon by the end of the decade" evolves into "Mars or bust".

The ostensible goal is supremacy in Cold War II. The real goal is humanity's long term survival through he colonization of Mars and the establishment of a new frontier.

Well, that was the outline for my story conceit anyway. Now it appears reality may be beating me to the punch once again...