Is it really necessary to explain why President Trump’s proposed Space Force would be a boon to humankind? Do I have to contrast such a noble project with the other possible uses to which our tax dollars would be put? Perhaps a study of how transsexuals are prone to certain color combinations. Or one on racism’s effect on the rat population of Oswego County. Agricultural sexism, a countrywide survey. Had enough?
Billions flow out of the U.S. Treasury and into the waiting bank accounts of fraudsters, crazies, and outright criminals. This penumbra of corruption that hangs over Washington like a monstrous cloud is why Donald Trump was elected in the first place: He pledged to dissipate it with a blast of fresh air. That hasn’t happened, but one doesn’t have to be a fan of “infrastructure” to know that there is at least one deserving government program that is perpetually starved for funding: the space program.
It inspired us in the 1960’s: Every male child worth his salt had his spacesuit, and we breathed what we imagined to be the atmosphere of the future. We watched the Jetsons with their flying cars on that new instrument of mass communication, the television, and faced the world and the prospect of the future with the optimism that is distinctively American. Back then, kids fantasized about being the first man on the moon; today, they’re content to be finally off probation.
Think of what it takes to build a vehicle capable of exploring the vast distances of space: the precision of thought, the unobstructed focus, the supreme respect for reason. This is not the kind of mentality that seeks out “safe spaces.” In short, a focus on space research, culminating in the creation of an actual Space Force, would launch an epistemological revolution in academia: We would begin to see a welcome shift of attention and funding away from the corrupted “soft” sciences, and a general tightening up of scholarly standards. While my libertarian views are somewhat rankled at such an aggressive government intervention, my commitment to the principle of realism in all things is at the very least equal to my love of liberty and, I hope, a bit stronger. We all know there would be no Internet if the government hadn’t planted the seeds and funded the original research.
The Space Force would be a lot bigger than the Internet. What it represents overshadows the discovery and unleashing of atomic energy. Alongside this, the wheel is a mere plaything. The advent of the Space Force would be the equivalent of man’s amphibious ancestor crawling up onto land for the first time. There’s water on Mars, which is beginning, in the latest photos, to look more like something out of the imagination of Edgar Rice Burroughs than anything that was previously thought possible. The successful creation of the right infrastructure—a space station, a Moon base, a Mars base—is the key to opening the doorway to the stars.
In a world beset by overcrowding, constant wars, and horrors of modernity yet untold, the ambitious, the young, the rebels, the best of humankind (and the worst, to be sure) will be the first pioneers. The return of the frontier will be a boon to us all—that is, if the spirit of Apollo is finally revived.
But of course in our present political Gehenna, where the fires of an actual civil war threaten to scorch the land, anything proposed by Trump is automatically anathema. I read somewhere that the Democrats intend to launch an “investigation” into the Space Force—perhaps Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Kookifornia), the leading “investigator” and a cheap substitute for good old Joe McCarthy, thinks it’s all a Russian plot.
I for one would encourage their probe. Perhaps these solons will stumble upon the real reason why the Space Force and what it represents is the most important issue humans will ever face. Although somehow I think this truth will elude them.
The choice is this: Will we look down at the mud and wallow in our own poisons—or will we look up at the stars and take up their shining invitation?
There are two mentalities in perfect opposition here, and yet the issue won’t be resolved by such abstract philosophical disputes. It’s all about politics: The Air Force is naturally opposed to the Space Force, as it arguably intrudes on their territory. But of course there is no air where the Space Force is going—and so the debate will go.
In the end, the military aspect is likely to be the decisive factor. Proponents can argue that failure to get ahead of rivals such as China or Russia could prove to be a deadly error. Imagine armed satellites threatening a prostrate earth with bombardment. Defense would be impossible.
The militarization of space, much bemoaned by peacenik types, is inevitable: Until and unless we abolish war on earth, it will also be waged in the heavens. Arms-control experts focus on the various treaties governing nuclear weapons deployed in Europe, when the really urgent matter is negotiating agreements to limit the weaponization of space. The development of technology is outracing the political will and foresight of our leaders. Faced with a crisis—a space-based threat—do they really want to be caught flat-footed?
I can hear the naysayers now: “The opioid crisis needs fixing!” “The homeless are out in the cold!” “How will this stop climate change?” These people must be studiously ignored and even rudely overridden. If it were up to people like that, the human race would still be a species of clever rat-like creatures skulking in the shadow of giant reptiles.
“Rat-like” surely describes the crew we have to deal with in Washington, especially now that the “blue wave” has crashed on our shores. It wasn’t such a big wave, and it crept up on us in slow motion; yet it has the potential to cause us a lot of trouble. Politically, sabotaging the Space Force is, in the short term, the least of it; yet, in the long run, aborting it could be the most significant turn in our history—a fateful, tragic turn away from what should have been our destiny.