Winning an Arms Race in Space Remains a Futile Fight – Consortiumnews

Donald Trump is not the first U.S. president to want to militarize life beyond Earth. But that approach is bankrupt, believes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall
Special to Consortium News

When Donald Trump declared it was time to Make America Great Again,he didn’t just mean here on Earth. As he directed thePentagon in June to create a new branch of the armed services devoted just to space warfare, Trump declared, “It is not enough to have an American presence in space.We must have American dominance in space.”

Not waiting for an ambivalent Congress to act, the Defense Department reportedly plans in coming months to create a new U.S. Space Command, Space Operations Force, and Space Development Agency to manage everything from war-fighting in outer space to developing and launching military satellites.

A draft of a Pentagon planning document states that the capabilities unleashed by this new structure will help “deter, and if necessary degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy and manipulate adversary capabilities to protect U.S. interests, assets and way of life.”

Previous official critics of a new space service, including Trump’sown Air Force secretary, Heather Wilson, and Defense Secretary James Mattis, almost invariably raised only bureaucratic objections rather than deeper questions about the merits of turning space into abattlefield.

Trump: Ready for take off. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Pentagon is complicated enough,” Wilson complained in 2017. Creation of a new space service, she said, “will make it more complex,add more boxes to the organization chart, and cost more money.”

Eventraditional Pentagon skeptics have adopted the same narrow focus,mainly questioning whether a new Space Force will best serve U.S. war-fighting needs or simply create more inter-service rivalries.

Supporters of a Space Force insist it will help attract resources to avitally important theater of operations. The United States military operates 159 satellites in orbit, and other government agencies maintain dozens more for communications, surveillance,and location services that have become essential to U.S. warfighting plans. These satellites…

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