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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Donald Trump and congressional Democrats actually engaged in a little old-fashioned horse trading: the Democrats win new parental-leave benefits for the federal workforce and Trump wins the new, sixth branch of the US military he’s been dreaming about, Space Force.
That doesn’t mean, however, that creation of the Space Force is a good idea. Because it’s not.
There is a reason why no previous president, Democrat or Republican, has in all the past decades of the Space Age ever pursued creation of a Space Force in the way that Trump has. That is because the current US military structure clearly meets the nation’s defense needs in space.
We as a nation have never before reorganized the military on the whim of the commander-in-chief.
The US Air Force was established in 1947 as part of the broader post-World War II defense reorganization and in recognition that air power had come into its own.
And, then, of course, the Department of Homeland Security was established in response to the horrific events of September 11, 2001.
So what is today’s similar compelling need–the current rationale–for establishing a Space Force now?
Other than that, like a toddler, Donald Trump wants it…and wants it now. Didn’t we hear this one before when it came to the wall he wants along the southern border?
And there are other significant reasons why Trump’s Space Force is a really bad idea, starting with the change that it could lead to an “an arms race in outer space.”
That’s not what our nation should be about, and it’s certainly not what we need.
“If concentrating authority in a Space Force creates an incentive for nations to build space weapons that increase the likelihood of conflict, it would be a profoundly bad idea,” Laura Grego, a senior scientist with Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement published on the watchdog group’s website earlier this year.
“President Trump has called space a new warfighting domain. Space is important to militaries, that’s true, but it is only a small piece of what happens up there” Grego said. “Eighty percent of the nearly 2,000 satellites are civilian, providing critical communications and economic services for humanity’s well-being. We need to take care of space.”
Grego said that when it comes to protecting satellites, “space security cannot be achieved unilaterally or solely through military means. It will require coordination and cooperation with other spacefaring nations. That means diplomacy.”
No doubt Grego is correct.
Which means as welcome as that parental leave will be for the federal workforce at large, perhaps Democrats should have focused their deal instead on rebuilding the State Department.
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