Hey kids! Vote for your favorite Space Force logo and win a prize! Prizes like a chance – slim, but still a chance – for you and your family’s survival in the event of an intergalactic showdown between the Good Guys and the Bad Guys!
“Space is a warfighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea,” President Donald Trump said last March in a speech at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. “We may even have a Space Force … because we’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space. I said: ‘Maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it the Space Force.’ And I was not really serious. And then I said: ‘What a great idea! Maybe we’ll have to do that.’”
And that’s how momentous decisions are made. “I was not really serious… What a great idea!” Yet Trump’s announcement this week that he is ordering the creation a new arm of the American military to fight our future space wars has been roundly ridiculed, and deservedly so. Ridiculed not only by late-night TV comedians, but by military experts, including generals with serious scowls on their faces. That’s quite a range of mockery.
Vice President Mike Pence chimed in to defend our defense, calling for America to dominate outer space. Dominate! “Now the time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces,” he said, “to prepare for the next battlefield where America’s best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people and to our nation.”
We must protect our satellites, Pence said, from Russian and Chinese aggression. And I assume this means our military architects must hit the drafting boards to design menacing-looking space ships to defend our GPS signals and the colonies that we will establish as we venture to far-flung planets whose gravity is so powerful that carbon molecules falling through their atmospheres are squeezed into rains of diamonds. If there are riches to be mined, America must have them.
Impressionable children, the ones who will have to deal with the consequences of these actions, can be won over early with the ideas of cool-looking Space Force uniforms. And the emails from the Trump For President in 2020 campaign office calling for a vote on your favorite of six Space Force logos.
But most of us are not impressionable children. Our Darth Vader leadership needs to understand that the cosmos is not just the 21st-century version of Columbus sailing to the West Indians and writing in his journals that Europeans have to keep coming back, because there are plenty of native people there to be enslaved. There is accepted international space law. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 outlaws nuclear weapons and prevents any country from claiming ownership of the moon or any planet, reserving them for peaceful purposes. It has been signed by 107 countries, including the U.S. and Russia. Another 23, including China, agreed to the treaty after the closing of the signing period.
Of course, the world has taken note of the Trump administration’s disregard for any signed treaty it decides was a “bad deal.” So maybe The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 has been rendered irrelevant by Presidential Whim. “What a great idea!”
Despite the combative attitudes of the United States and Russia, our scientists and their scientists are already working together on the International Space Station. While Putin and Trump are exerting their malevolence on the planet, science and cooler heads are at work high overhead.
Robert Heinlein’s future was Starship Troopers. We don’t want that. We need to be working in the other direction. All of this outer-space ambition is coming from an administration that can’t get things done closer to home, like putting hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico back together, or getting clean water to the people of Flint, Michigan.
The Space Force won’t happen. Trump can’t just sign an executive order to make it happen; the last time a new arm of the military was created was 1947 and the U.S. Air Force. That was done by Congress, not President Truman. And who pays for it? In searching the internet, I stumbled on this comforting and amusing logic in a Pentagon in-house journal, Defense AT&L Magazine, a piece written by Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Ward:
In the Star Wars universe, robots are self-aware, every ship has its own gravity, Jedi Knights use the Force, tiny green Muppets are formidable warriors and a piece of junk like the Millennium Falcon can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. But even the florid imagination of George Lucas could not envision a project like the Death Star coming in on time, on budget.
It is craziness – a Space Force, building a wall between the United States and Mexico – designed as distraction. Whether he’s targeting immigrants, Democrats, the media, the FBI, the CIA or his own cabinet, Trump is running out of Bad Guys to distract us from what’s going on: The most corrupt U.S. presidential administration, a gang of grifters, is going down. Because when this is all done, it’ll be worse than Watergate.
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