Is the proposed U.S. Space Force necessary to our defense? No: It's another Trump idea that belongs on a Hollywood launch pad
Throughout the history of the republic, American presidents have come up with some rather cockamamie ideas and programs.
Gerald Ford's "WIN" buttons — "Whip Inflation Now" — comes to mind. And there was Richard Nixon's outfitting Secret Service guards at the White House in Prussian-style ceremonial uniforms. That silliness did not last very long. Harry S Truman and George H. W. Bush constructed horseshoe pitches on the White House grounds. Both were removed by their successors because neither Dwight Eisenhower nor Bill Clinton was into tossing horseshoes.
Although some money was spent on these presidential follies, none came even close in cost or absurdity as President Donald Trump's creation of a U.S. Space Force.
Despite the Space Force not being wanted by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Trump 2020 re-election campaign announced an online vote on a logo for the Space Force, which coincided with selling Space Force merchandise to fund the campaign.
A former White House Ethics Office director cried foul about merchandising Space Force items for Trump's re-election. That in itself deserves a belly laugh. When did Trump and his cronies ever pay attention to ethics?
In 2017, Mattis, in a letter to Senate Armed Forces Committee chairman John McCain, stated his opposition to Space Force. Mattis wrote that such an additional military service would create "additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting efforts."
Trump, whose only experience in uniform was "playing army" at a private military school in New York, would have none of it. Mattis and the generals and admirals were overruled by the president. The Space Force was to be formed, and the military brass would just have to learn to like it.
It appears that the only officials who boost Space Force are Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Funding for Space Force did not even make it into the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019.
The U.S. Air Force, which has had responsibility for space defense ever since the days of President Ronald Reagan's own stroll down "dumb idea lane" with the "Star Wars" anti-ballistic missile system, is fuming over the creation of Space Force, seeing it as a professional slap in the face.
While Trump sees space as the next battlefield for the U.S., American and foreign diplomats are alarmed. They point to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, signed by the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom during the height of the Cold War. This treaty specifies that space and celestial bodies, including the moon, Mars, and the asteroids, are to be explored and exploited by the treaty signatories for peaceful purposes only.
Signatories agreed "not to place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction nor install such weapons on celestial bodies or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner."
The 1967 treaty ushered into being an entirely new legal construct, known as space law, which deals with everything from orbiting man-made satellites to potential mining on the moon and asteroids.
Trump's Space Force upends the treaty, the legal structure that surrounds it, and portends a future of military confrontation, not cooperation, among our planet's nations in outer space.
As millions of Americans go without health and nursing home care and as repairs to the country's crumbling infrastructure are sorely needed, now is not the time to invest in some campy sci-fi movie extravaganza like Space Force.
It should be tossed into the presidential trash heap, along with Ford's WIN buttons, Nixon's Prussian uniforms, and Truman's and Bush's horseshoes.
Wayne Madsen is a leading progressive commentator from Valrico, Fla.