Say the word star wars and most of the people will likely associate them with box-office movie series created by George Lucas. Unfortunately, the word star wars here has nothing to do with any science fiction movies, but rather, the future of the global defence system.
It is still fresh in everybody’s mind that last month, on Feb. 15, a meteorite streaked across the sky of central Russia and exploded with force of 30 Hiroshima bombs. The fire ball traveled at a speed of 30 miles per second and causing a shock wave that shattered thousands of windows, damaged buildings, disrupted mobile phone networks and injured as massive as 1,200 people.
Of the meteorite accident, Alexei Pushkov, the Chief of Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee said that instead of fighting on Earth, people should be creating a joint system of asteroid defence. Pushkov also suggested United States to join Russia and China in creating the Anti-Asteroid Defence System (AADS).
There was no further explanation on what way this AADS would work to combat asteroids. However, professors from UC Santa Barbara and California Polytechnic State University have conceived a realistic means of mitigating potential threats posed to the Earth by asteroids and comets.
The concept is named DE-STAR, or Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation. It is designed to harness some of the power of the sun and convert it into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy, or evaporate, asteroids posing a potential threat to Earth.
The idea of creating anti asteroid defence system is not new. Back in 2004 and 2005 in the United States, California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced legislation that would have established a system to identify and track near-earth asteroids (unfortunately the two bills died in committee). In 2007, Rohrabacher wrote the Near Earth Object Preparedness Act (the bill has apparently the same fate with previous bills).
Congressman Rohrabacher is not alone. In 2011, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin, while he was Russia’s political representative to NATO, raised a call for U.S.-Russian collaboration for a Strategic Defence of Earth (SDE). He spoke about the need for some kind of international initiative, related to establishing a warning and prevention system for dangerous approaches to Earth by objects of extraterrestrial origin (the call met with laughters).
After Russia meteorite strike, Rohrabacher and Rogozin may slightly relieved. For their efforts and ideas on asteroids defence system has taken into action by countries such as European Union, the United States, China, and Russia.
Asteroid threats are creeping in our solar system. According to NASA, there are about 11.5 million near-Earth asteroids smaller than 30 meters in diameter, and about 500,000 in the 30-to-100 meter range. Only less than one percent of these asteroids have been found.
With such terrifying number, we can see how this issue will shape global defence system in the future. There is a huge possibility that in the near decades, an international effort for asteroid defence will be established.
For asteroid is an existential threat, despite ongoing debates in its defence and security system (National Security Bill, Minimum Essential Forces, etcetera), Indonesia may well have to start to consider this issue as well.
In reality, space is not foreign for Indonesia. Indonesia has ratified almost all space treaties and in 1976, it became the first developing country which procured, owned and operated a satellite as a means of its domestic communication system. Yet, after almost four decades, there was no asteroid defence system ever discussed.
With its position as a leader of ASEAN, there is a need for Indonesia to catch up the recent development and direction in global strategic defence system trends. Indonesia has greater chance to act as a pioneer of asteroid defence issues in the region. The effort can be started by little steps, discussing this issue in the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM), for instance.
The sooner Indonesia considers this issue, the greater chance that us, Indonesian citizens, can survive such a possible future morbid existential threat caused by asteroids. And if Indonesia won’t? May the force be with us.
Institute for Defense Security and Peace Studies
I was sleeping in mukena (Indonesian term of Islamic praying clothes). I was hangover. No matter how you don’t drink, there will be several networking parties you can’t avoid. Some of those parties are mean. They don’t serve water. Or juice. Only a chain of liquors. This hangover of mine was caused by that kind of party. And I don’t support this kind of behavior.
Mom came to my room and shook my shoulders. She wanted me to drive her to the mall.
“But, why mom? Didn’t you just go there like, two hours ago?”
She wanted to go there again because at the exit door of the mall she was approached by a worker who asked her if she had Angry Birds stickers. The man said his little daughter wanted Angry Bird stickers.
Mom said she didn’t have any and went home.
And she couldn’t let the image of that man’s little daughter wanting Angry Birds stickers while her dad could not afford it, out of her head.
Two hours later we drove to the mall. I was barely sober with that mild headache and something like that. We went around the mall and could not find Angry Birds stickers. We went to Carrefour only to find the Angry Birds dolls aren’t for sale. So mom bought a cute doll that costs waaaayyyyy more than Angry Birds stickers.
We had the doll. But we could not find the worker man. Oh my God.
We went around and mom asked everybody (security officers) about the worker.
We found clues. The worker’s name is pak Rohmat. Pak Rohmat was having a work break at the post behind the mall’s building.
Mom got security officers to call pak Rohmat.
Pak Rohmat came.
Mom gave him the doll saying “I don’t have Angry Birds stickers for your daughter. And I could not find the stickers. But here, you are now have something to give to your little daughter.”
Pak Rohmat was shocked. And after some minutes of silence he said thank you with a delightful face.
We drove home.
I know I will never get lost in the world. I am raised by a mother like this.
Jakarta, my room, March 13, 2013.
Press Conference on Indonesia’s foreign arms procurement has done and wrapped. I glanced at my BlackBerry. A red sign, my senior Diplomat friend of a su******** country texted: public discussion, and our Three Musketeers’ monthly coffee hangout.
Was it the time? I murmured. Ahh, I have forgotten, perhaps. Waved a taxi.
The sky was as dark as my emotions. The public discussion, unfortunately, shared the similar tone. Chitty chatty on Indonesia’s government attitude towards UMR management compared to its European counterparts that use social welfare system. FMC, everyone. FMC.
The discussion was barely finished when Mr. Senior Diplomat asked me to move our asses somewhere to grab one or two coffees.
And off we hopped on that lavish, grand, diplomatic car. We sat on individual seats in the middle while the chauffer took us to the place where the Three Musketeers: I, Mr. Senior Diplomat and a respected senior scholar woman always had our monthly casual talk.
I looked over the window. The rain started to slightly pour, lightnings flashed the gloomy grey roof of the earth, and there, too, was the legendary traffic of Jakarta. Surrounded by the mix of different ambiences around us, we spoke our minds. From social welfare system in the era of Muhammad and Jesus, to Wall Street. Etcetera. Storm inside the storm. Brain storm over the rain storm.
Suddenly, I felt so fed up. I felt so tired. Of everything happens in Life at once. The war, the greed, the tragedy of the less unfortunates, the unequal distribution of Power, all the devil devil devil sea of news that come through my timeline, my email, the web, newspapers, every single second of the day.
I shrugged. Wordless.
And we arrived. Coffees served. Other Muskeeteer, the senior scholar woman came, completed the sacred number. The three children of their own different generations have gathered once again.
Jakarta, near end of 2012.