1 February 2020
Trump Gets Space Force to Assert Domination
By Karl Grossman
The Progressive Populist
President Trump has signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2020 that establishes a US Space Force as the sixth branch of the US armed forces — despite the Outer Space Treaty designating space as a global commons to be used for peaceful purposes.
Trump said at the Dec. 20 signing that it was a “big moment … Space. Going to be a lot of things happening in space. Because space is the world’s newest warfighting domain.”
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was quoted by Space News saying at the signing that “outer space has evolved into a warfighting domain … Maintaining American dominance in that domain is now the mission of the United States Space Force.”
Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, said of what happened: “The words ‘warfighting domain’ and US ‘dominance in space’ indicate that the Pentagon is actively planning to fight a war in space. This misguided notion is probably the most dangerous and frightening development of my lifetime — and I had thought the Cold War-era was bad. The idea that the US thinks it can fight and ‘win’ a war in space is indeed the height of insanity.”
“It is clear to me that what the Pentagon has long called ‘the largest, and most expensive, industrial project in human history—‘Star Wars,’ will drive our nation’s economy over the cliff,” said Gagnon. “There will be rockets and weapons in space and more homeless across the nation than anyone could ever imagine. Yes, we should call it Pyramids to the Heavens. The aerospace industry is the contemporary version of the Pharaohs of Egypt and the taxpayers will be the slaves. But everything has an Achilles Heel and the enormous cost of Star Wars could just be it.”
He stated: “It’s more than the right time for the public to declare a resounding NO.”
The formation of a US Space Force and the US drive for “American dominance” of space will inevitably turn space into a war zone because other nations, China and Russia and then more, will respond in kind. There will be an arms race in space.
The landmark Outer Space Treaty of 1967 was put together by the US, the former Soviet Union, and the UK, and since signed by most nations on Earth. It was spurred, as Craig Eisendrath, as a US State Department officer involved in its creation, says in a TV documentary I wrote and narrate, that “we sought to de-weaponize space before it got weaponized … to keep war out of space.”
The treaty prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space, and although the Trump administration and US military have been claiming a Space Force is necessary because of Russia and China moving into space militarily, in fact Russia and China —and US neighbor Canada — have been leaders for decades in pushing for an expansion of the Outer Space Treaty. They’ve been advocating the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) treaty under which the placement of any weapons in space would be barred. The US — under both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations — has opposed the PAROS treaty and has effectively vetoed it at the UN. (I’ve been there to see this.)
There’s now a plan to rename Air Force bases as Space Force bases. Space News reports: “Air Force installations that primarily do space work would be renamed Space Force bases. Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, for example, could become Peterson Space Force Base.”
In the House of Representatives, the vote for NDAA on Dec. 11 was 377 to 48. Some 189 Republicans and 188 Democrats voted for it. Six Republican House members voted no along with 41 Democrats and one independent. The vote was reported to be a result of a trade-off for 12 weeks of paid parental leave for civilian federal employees.
The New York Times’ article on the vote said Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, was pivotal. “It was Mr. Kushner who helped broker a deal to create the Space Force, a chief priority of the president’s, in exchange for the paid parental leave, a measure championed by his wife, Ivanka Trump, also a senior advisor to the president,” said the Times.
It was a trade-off of the most profound historic proportions: paid parental leave for government employees, common in countries all over the world, for a measure that would turn space into an arena of war.
The vote in the Senate on Dec. 17 was 86 to 8. Some 48 Republicans and 37 Democrats and one independent voted for it. Four Republicans and four Democrats voted no.
National Public Radio has reported that Trump’s advocacy of a Space Force “started as a joke.” NPR’s Claudia Grisales related that in 2018 “Trump riffed on an idea he called ‘Space Force’ before a crowd of Marines in San Diego. It drew laughs.” She continued that Trump subsequently said: “I was not really serious. Then I said, ‘What a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.’”
As to the weapons a Space Force might use, proposed for Reagan’s “Star Wars” program were hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons onboard orbiting battle platforms with onboard nuclear reactors providing the power for the weapons. General James Abramson, head of “Star Wars,” or as officially termed Strategic Defense Initiative, said “without reactors in orbit” there would need to be “a long” extension cord bringing power up from Earth.
Karl Grossman is professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury and is author of “Weapons in Space.”
Progressive Populist, February