Starlink: More of a weapon than a commercial device

Gibson Nyikadzino
Herald Correspondent

Did you know that Starlink is more of a weapon’s system than a commercial one? Have you ever wondered what happens when commercial technological strategy becomes more advanced than military strategy? Technically, this potentially puts the national interests of many states into disarray.

In relation to Zimbabwe, the national interest dimension is being avoided or overlooked by ‘experts’ when they push their narratives in the public domain about Starlink, a satellite internet constellation operated by American aerospace company, SpaceX.

Because most of their narratives turn a blind eye on the national interests in the age of technological advancement, most of their ‘expertise’ has only propped Starlink and its owner, Elon Musk. These narratives have also modelled Musk as the greatest technological nerd that ever emerged from this world in the post-millennium period.

At the beginning of this month, it was reported that Starlink deployed over 6,000 mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) that communicate with designated ground transceivers.

The company is targeting deploying a total 42 000 units, to enhance communication and information systems in the cyberspace, they say.

This in itself is a militarisation of the cyberspace and polluting for strategic military, and not commercial, dominance.

Therefore, the increasing dependence on information systems has now made the cyberspace a new ‘war fighting domain’. This means the dimensions of conflict are changing from land, sea, air and now to the cyberspace through modern information communication systems.

Technological advancement and the use of the cyberspace are leading to the employment of military strategies to particularly undermine the position of other countries.

Both those in the military and technological fields are using their new discoveries to launch cyberspace strategies that are anchored on disruption, espionage and degradation.

These three proposed strategies respectively entail how the West or US can use information systems instruments like Starlink to shape the larger bargaining context; to alter the balance of information to achieve a position of advantage; and to sabotage the networks, operations or systems of other states.

Dangerous donations

A few decades ago, technology was believed to be the greatest tool to prevent conflict. But today, at a time when the US military is shrinking, for example, that country is now having a growing technological base.

In the case of Starlink, information systems technology has not been deployed however to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but to exacerbate it.

Starlink is propping up Ukraine against Russia and the Americans are very happy with it. Now what does that mean to countries that support Russia and see Russia as a progressive country.

To the less critical man, Starlink is projected as a commercial platform. However, Elon Musk chose to ‘donate’ Starlink kits to aid Ukraine’s neo-Nazi regime access fast internet, use is to fly drones that are hitting key Russian oil and gas infrastructure installations.

Though Ukraine’s existence today is largely based on US-led NATO support, it must not be discounted that the Kiev regime’s internet infrastructure, command and central infrastructure, and network to fly drones into Russia exist because Starlink is there for them. Starlink has ceased to be a commercial entity!

Essentially, these are the geopolitical consequences of the Starlink technology which is being controlled by one man, with the aide of the Pentagon.

Where traditionally it has been known that wars have been funded by states, now commercial entities are now donating equipment and funding wars.

National interest

In this new domain of conflict (cyberspace), whoever wins in the occurring technological changes and struggles might not the one who is right, but the one who is powerful.

Such modern technological changes now require governments to alter perceptions considering the war they respond to these changes.

What should not be disregarded is that the modern utilisation of technological power and information systems is a way to achieve political-military strategic goals.

This should remain as relevant and important today as in the past. Information technological systems and advancements are changing human social conditions such that since the advent of the Starlink satellite internet system, human beings and states have further been “involved in a restless struggle for power which ceases only in death”.

As changes in the domains of technology and the cyberspace continue to expand, this further necessitate the broadening of enquiries into the future of national and international security interests for different nation-states.

In considering whether to or not to operationalise Starlink use in Zimbabwe, our ideologically driven establishment should, as always, consider the events that Starlink have done in Ukraine against Russia; the possibility of disruption, degradation and espionage for the benefit of the USA government and other Western establishments.

Unmasking Musk

One thing that capitalism does is to constantly produce commodities to sustain itself through domination and hegemony.

Though Starlink is individually owned, the US government and Pentagon have expressed their intentions to use Starlink entrench the Western domination in the name of progress.

This however appears to be falsified progress which is typical of capitalist ideology that is materialist and consumerist.

Elon Musk is the man the world loves to love and hate.

He is a man who is not neurologically typical of the rest of us. For example, it takes a certain kind of strangeness to launch a Tesla into space or entertaining a thought to send people to Mars by 2029. Of these two, Musk has achieved one.

This is the man who in the USA has become the godfather of electronic vehicles (EVs), the godfather of commercial space enterprise and that of rockets which can be redirected to their base.

He understands how capitalism is sustained, through new products that people can consume to socially engineer people about his interests and those of the capitalist formation.

This is also a man with an influence that can set some geopolitical changes. At one time he proposed how to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict, triggering an uproar in the West.

Potential military accessory

The utility of military force among states is today in decline and attention has shifted to new issues associated particularly with the process of globalisation which many believe is enhanced by communication and cyberspace installations.

While some think that cyber operations have limited coercive value, it has to be understood that cyber operations actually contribute to the bullying of states, coercion, especially through the destabilisation of critical infrastructure as a deterrence strategy.

Starlink is a potential accessory to be used to balance the West’s policy of domination and disruption with the use of available information systems, including the development and application of ways and means to achieve these ends.

In view of the Starlink is, what is key for consideration is the security of Zimbabwe which is broadly political, social, economic, technological and environmental, as well as military, to consolidate national interests.

Without fear of contradiction, it cannot be misleading to say the Starlink information and internet installation are a useful component in the US military strategy.

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