As if President Trump isn’t causing enough trouble already: trade wars with China, trashing the Iranian nuclear deal, on/off nuclear confrontation with North Korea, destabilising Venezuela, offending his erstwhile European allies… the list goes on and on – and that’s just his international agenda.
But never one to limit his vision, Trump’s now going extra-terrestrial. He’s planning to move into space in a big way. He’s reconvened the National Space Council – on ice for years – and instructed the Department of Defense and the Pentagon to set up a sixth branch of the armed forces: the Space Force.
Of course he’s not the first president to think of weapons in space. In 1983 President Reagan launched his ‘star wars’ initiative, the forerunner of the current ‘missile defence’ systems, which involved interceptor missiles being fired through space, new space lasers, the expansion of spying and monitoring systems, and the likely ‘weaponisation’ of space.
In the early part of this century, George W. Bush was also an enthusiast, and now President Trump is making this an America First issue, proclaiming that America will always be first in space and that national pride is at stake. Describing it as so important for ‘the psyche’, he asserted, ‘We don’t want China and Russia and other countries leading us.’
He went on to say, ‘When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space. So important.’
Of course many responded with derision, parodying Star Wars and Star Trek, but this is far from funny. Weapons in space mean wars in space and this has been a matter of concern to the international community since Reagan began his Star Wars project over three decades ago.
In 1985 the UN began work on a Treaty on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space and it has been up and down the agenda ever since. It has been championed by Canada, Russia and China and backed by almost the entire international community. The US has never supported it.
No doubt in the months ahead, as the new Space Force take shape, soaking up vast amounts of cash, producing vast profits for the aerospace industry and further destabilising our fragile world, Trump and his acolytes will blame Russia and China for the militarisation of space and the advancing space wars.
Already Pence has claimed that the expansion of US militarization into space is because ‘our adversaries’, Russia and China, ‘have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself’. But the reality is that the US has led this all the way and they have blocked international efforts to prevent weapons in space. It’s yet another frontier for militarisation. Let’s hope it’s not our final frontier.
Join the demonstration at USAF Croughton on 6th October from 12 noon to 4pm