No Militarization of Space Act

Finally, there’s some good news about the U.S. push to turn space into a war zone. The “No Militarization of Space Act” has been introduced in the U.S. Congress. It would abolish the new U.S. Space Force.

It is being sponsored by five members of the House of Representatives led by Representative Jared Huffman. In a statement announcing the September 22nd introduction of the measure, Huffman called the U.S. Space Force “costly and unnecessary.”

The arms and aerospace industries, which have a central role in U.S. space military activities, will no doubt be super-active in coming weeks working to stop movement of the legislation.

Representative Huffman, with a background as a consumer attorney specializing in public interest cases, was elected in 2012 to represent the 2nd Congressional District in California which covers the state’s North Coast up to the Oregon border. He resides in San Rafael.

In his statement announcing the introduction of the bill, Huffman said the “long-standing neutrality of space has fostered a competitive, non-militarized age of exploration every nation and generation has valued since the first days of space travel. But since its creation under the former Trump administration, the Space Force has threatened longstanding peace and flagrantly wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.” And, he continued: “It’s time we turn our attention back to where it belongs: addressing urgent domestic and international priorities like battling COVID-19, climate change, and growing economic inequality. Our mission must be to support the American people, not spend billions on the militarization of space.”

Co-sponsors of the “No Militarization of Space Act” are Representatives Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Maxine Waters of California; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; and Jesus Garcia of Illinois. All are Democrats.

Alice Slater, a board member of the organization World BEYOND War, commented that Trump, “in his besotted hunkering for hegemonic glory,” established the Space Force as “a brand new branch of the already gargantuan military juggernaut….Sadly, the new U.S. President Biden has done nothing to ratchet down the warmongering. Fortunately, help is on the way with a group of five sane members of Congress.”

But not only has Joe Biden stuck with the U.S. Space Force, but most Democrats in both the House of Representatives and Senate voted for its creation as championed by Trump. All Republicans in Congress voted for it.

“With Biden’s ‘full support,’ the Space Force is officially here to stay,” Defense News headlined this year: Its article opened: “U.S. President Joe Biden will not seek to eliminate the Space Force and roll military space functions back into the Air Force, the White House confirmed.” It quoted White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki telling reporters at a February press conference: “We’re not revisiting the decision.”

The Space Force was established in 2019 as the sixth branch of U.S. armed forces after President Donald Trump asserted that “it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

Slater in discussing the Huffman legislation pointed to “repeated calls from Russia and China on the United States to negotiate a treaty to ban weapons in space” and how the U.S. “has blocked all discussion”

“Only last week,” said Slater, “in a speech to a United Nations conference in Geneva, Li Song, China’s ambassador for disarmament affairs, urged the U.S. to stop being a ‘stumbling block’ to preventing an arms race in outer space noting its disrespect for treaties, starting with the end of the Cold War, and its repeated intentions to dominate and control space.”

The major international treaty on space is the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which sets aside space for peaceful purposes and prohibits the deployment of weapons of mass destruction. It was put together by the United States, the former Soviet Union and Great Britain. Craig Eisendrath, who as a young U.S. State Department office was involved in the Outer Space Treaty’s creation, has said “we sought to de-weaponize space before it got weaponized…to keep war out of space.”

For decades, China, Russia and U.S. neighbor Canada have sought to broaden that treaty with a Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) treaty. It would ban the placement of all weapons in space. However, it must be approved by the UN’s Conference on Disarmament before being enacted—and for that a there must be unanimous vote by nations in the conference. The U.S. has refused to support the PAROS treaty, blocking its passage.

The speech last week that Slater was referring to at the UN in Geneva was reported on by the South China Morning Post. It quoted Li Song as saying the U.S. should “stop being a ‘stumbling block’” on the PAROS treaty and going on: “After the end of the Cold War, and especially in the past two decades, the U.S. has tried its best to get rid of its international obligations, refused to be bound by new treaties and long resisted multilateral negotiations on PAROS. To put it bluntly, the U.S. wants to dominate outer space.”

Li said: “If space is not effectively prevented from becoming a battlefield, then the ‘rules of space traffic’ will be no more than a ‘code of space warfare.’”

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, said: “The Global Network congratulates Representatives Huffman and his co-sponsors for their truthful and valiant introduction of a bill to abolish the wasteful and provocative Space Force. There can be no question that we do not need a new arms race in space at the very time climate crisis is raging, our medical care system is collapsing, and the wealth divide is growing beyond imagination. How dare we even consider spending trillions of dollars so the U.S. can become the ‘Master of Space’!” said Gagnon referring to the “Master of Space” motto of a component of the Space Force.

“War in space signifies a deep spiritual disconnection from all that matters most on our Mother Earth,” he said. “We encourage every living, breathing American citizen to contact their congressional representatives and demand they support this bill to get rid of Space Force.”

The Huffman legislation, if approved, would be part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2022, the annual bill that authorizes military spending. The U.S. Space Force has a budget this year of $15.5 billion and has requested a budget of $17.4 billion for 2022 to “grow the service,” reports Air Force Magazine. “Space Force 2022 Budget Adds Satellites, Warfighting Center, More Guardians,” was the headline of its article.

The U.S. Space Force “received its first offensive weapon… satellite jammers,” reported American Military News in 2020. “The weapon does not destroy enemy satellites, but can be used to interrupt enemy satellite communications and hinder enemy early warning systems meant to detect a U.S. attack,” it stated. Soon afterwards, the Financial Times’ headline: “U.S military officials eye new generation of space weapons.” In 2001, the headline on the website, which describes itself as “Media for the Intelligence Age Military,” declared: “The Space Force wants to use directed-energy systems for space superiority.”

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet, and the Beyond Nuclear handbook, The U.S. Space Force and the dangers of nuclear power and nuclear war in space. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.