Among the litany of terrible, awful choices made during Donald Trump’s tenure as President of the United States, Space Force is undoubtedly one of the most ridiculous. An entire military branch dedicated to the protection and armament of a place we can barely get to, to the tune of nearly $16 billion a year, is an outlandishly expensive bit of vanity and bravado exceeded in its absurdity only by its redundancy.
The United States already has an extremely competent (and well-funded) Air Force, which for years has already housed the Air Force Space Command, a department being reassigned to the absolutely unnecessary Space Force.
There is no good, clear argument for why we need a Space Force. The entire premise hinges on a sort of vague “in case” sentiment that seems to suggest an impending threat that does not exist. Beyond spy-satellites and ICBM’s that can exit and re-enter the atmosphere, there is no threat or battlefield in space. It’s important to note that those satellites and missiles have existed for decades now and have been monitored and counter-programmed against effectively by our Air Force. The “state of play” has not changed in any way requiring a new, and expensive, branch of our military.
I am not anti-Space. I’m an amateur astronomer, a member of the Planetary Society, and a massive NASA fan; under most circumstances I’m for anything that puts more money into exploring space. It’s important to note however, we already have a national organization devoted to doing exactly that, which has to fight tooth-and-nail to see its budget funded every year.
NASA and the Air Force already have all of the expertise necessary to account for and defend us from any potential threats originating from space, should any ever actually materialize. Space Force is a reinventing of a wheel that quite simply does not need to exist.
Let's bring the conversation back down to ground level. 2020 has been a year of extreme division, violence, sickness, and upheaval. Government funding is a competitive field, and the well which it draws upon is under constant attack from all sides looking to shrink government and pay down our national debt.
The choices we make as a society on how our tax dollars are spent should reflect our priorities. In a world where Black men are still murdered by police on video constantly, and where pandemics and housing crisis’ rage, allotting a massive portion of available dollars to an extraneous branch of the military is irresponsible and immoral. We have real problems that require resources to address, and instead, we’re allowing those resources to fund what amounts to national chest-beating.
The United States has and has had the largest military in the world for decades. We are not unprepared for potential threats. Our military budgets are staggeringly high, and adding an entirely new branch will only serve to see those budgets continue to creep — pardon the pun — astronomically higher.
With Joe Biden's victory, it’s time to undo this unnecessary expansion of our military. We must return the control of space-based defense preparation to the Air Force, and reappropriate the funding for Space Force to programs here on Earth.
As we perhaps near a COVID-19 vaccine, mobilization of logistics networks to actually dispense and subsidize the vaccine will require massive amounts of capital. Helping the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs and homes due to this pandemic will require even more. Finding real, actionable solutions to America’s original pandemic of institutionalized violence against Black people will require all of the resources we can possibly muster.
These are the issues of our time. Space warfare is not, and likely never will be. Space exploration is one of the few things that unites human beings across all political spectrums and country divides. The exploration of the infinite abyss and the answers it could hold to what it means to be human in this cosmos represent profound moments of connection that transcend terrestrial concerns.
Let us not rush to turn it into the next theater of warfare, especially before we’re forced to do so. We can prepare, as we always have for threats with the resources available to us, which are ample, but manufacturing a theoretical threat to justify this level of spending is a mistake, and one we can undo under a Joe Biden presidency if we make it a priority.