It's astonishing to me that over 30,000 people signed a petition calling on the White House to "build the "Star Wars" inspired super-weapon to spur job growth and bolster national defense". I shouldn't be surprised at what people will sign. When I was on a whale watching tour in Nova Scotia I was entranced to learn that Greenpeace had called for names for a humpack whale it was following on its South Atlantic migration, and the winning name, with 119,367 votes, was Mr. Splashy Pants.
I still want to know, what were these people thinking? Does anyone really, seriously think that a Death Star, a moon-sized, galaxy roaming, planet-killing vessel, is either feasible or desirable? And how would it protect US security, seeing as US security problems, such as North Korea and Iran, are, well, on the same planet as the US? That would rather invalidate the planet-killing capability of the Death Star.
Fortunately, cooler heads are prevailing in Washington. On Friday last, "Paul Shawcross, an administration adviser on science and space, said a Death Star would cost too much to build — an estimated $850 quadrillion — at a time the White House is working to reduce the federal budget. Besides, Shawcross says, the Obama administration "does not support blowing up planets."
So it being a slow day in the mess, a bunch of us were thinking that it would be cool to be part of Death Star Command, assuming that such a thing was ever stood up. Just the shoulder badge alone would be awesome.
On the way home, I got to thinking about the merits of Canada stepping in, since the US is not interested in the project. I decided it would be unlikely, and here's why.
Top Ten Reasons Why Canada Probably Won't Build a Death Star
1) Language issues: would it be called "The Death Star" for English Canada, "L'Etoille de la Mort?" for French Canada, or "Dat Big Shiny 'Ting Dat Blows Stuff Up" in Newfoundland?
2) Provincial issues: Ottawa would have to parcel out construction projects to the provinces, requiring extensive drydock to spacedock upgrades in Halifax, Vancouver, and Montreal. A large Death Star maintenance contract to Winnipeg would be cancelled at the last minute and given to Quebec, thus creating a new generation's worth of East-West hostility.
3) Interservice issues: Fighting between the Navy and the Air Force over ownership of the Death Star project would take at least a generation to sort out. The Army would settle for a modest role as the Death Star Security Force, but this would mean long delays while white plastic stormtrooper uniforms were procured.
4) Cost issues: the Minister of Defence would lowball the cost at $600 quadrillion, and then revelation of cost overruns running the total to $850 quadrillion would paralyze Parliament for years. This delay would not include the costly F35 to TIE Fighter conversion project, which would have its own set of cost overruns and its own parliamentry debate. Expect a Crown Commission to be appointed to look into the costing issues.
5) Procurement issues: the Department of Defence would be castigated for considering European and US bids for design and construction of the Death Star. Demand would increase for a "made in Canada" Death Star, and at some point, someone would write to the Globe and Mail demanding that the Avro Arrow be built instead of a Death Star.
6) International law issues: Canadian Military police would be tasked to run the Death Star detention facilities, which, as Star Wars fans will recall, seems to be the second raison d'etre of having a Death Star other than blowing planets up. Post-Afghanistan concerns about potential mistreatment of Death Star detainees under international law would add yet another paralyzing debate to Parliament, especially when plans for the floating black globe with hypodermic needles were leaked. Situation is further complicated when Parliamentry subcommittee examines possible intergalactic law as it applies to alien detainees and their rights, such as Bothans and fur combs. Many long Supreme Court appeals ensue.
7)Security issues: Speaking of leaks, all the plans for Canada's Death Star would be sold by an RCN intel sub-lieutenant to a potentially hostile power for $200 and a pack of smokes. Luke and Han will not rescue the sub-lieutenant.
8)Manning issues: Crewing Canada's Death Star will require everyone currently serving in the Canadian Forces and then some. Civilian DND staff will be required to make up the Death Star's complement. Unfortunately, federal hiring freezes will make this impossible.
9)Environmental issues: Concerns about the habitat of the giant squid monsters in the Death Star trash compactors, and the need to protect them, will require that large sections of Canada's Death Star be declared as Environmentally Protected Areas, thus significantly degrading its operational effectiveness.
10) Cultural issues: Canadian public has a massive freak out when it learns that the federal government is building a Death Star. Massive debate in CBC and other media ensues as to whether a "Death Star" is in keeping with Canadian values and image in the world. Canadian neocons say "damn skippy it is", everyone else says no. Finally the government compromises on a Canadian Peacekeeping Star, but due to budget constraints what is finally built is a Canadian Peacekeeping Asteroid whose primary armament is a slightly larger Canadarm. A prototype is built, the project is cancelled, and the prototype is mysteriously destroyed, thus giving Canadian nationalists and conspiracy theorists new grist for their mill (see Avro, Arrow).