Viewpoint by Alice Slater*, The Hill
NEW YORK (IDN-INPS) – […] Vice-President Mike Pence announced the Trump administration’s plan for a new military command, the U.S. Space Force, emphasizing President Donald Trump’s urging that “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space: we must have American dominance in space.” Pence’s announcement was greeted by Trump, tweeting in response, “Space Force all the way!”
Pence’s rationale for this disturbing expansion of U.S. militarization to the heavens is that “our adversaries”, Russia and China, “have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself” that pose a threat to American satellites.
But despite a virtual blackout in the mainstream media, Russia and China have been arguing for years in the halls of the United Nations that the world needs a treaty to prevent stationing such weapons in outer space in order to maintain global “strategic stability” among the major powers and enable nuclear disarmament.
Although the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prevented the placement of weapons of mass destruction in outer space, it never prohibited conventional weapons in space. In 2008 and again in 2014, Russia and China introduced a draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space in the UN forum that negotiates disarmament agreements, the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva.
The U.S. has blocked any discussion of the space weapons ban treaty in the consensus-bound forum, where all talks are stalled because of U.S. repeated vetoes. After years of inaction, we now learn that Russia and China are believed to be developing the ability to shoot down satellites in space.
We reach this point after a sad history of missed opportunities for peace in space and nuclear disarmament. It began with President Truman’s rejection of Stalin’s proposal to place the bomb under international control at the United Nations in 1946.
Then President Reagan rejected former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s offer to eliminate nuclear weapons, provided the U.S. didn’t proceed with his plan for Star Wars, a space-based military system, later described in 1997 under the Clinton administration, as the U.S. Space Command’s Vision 2020, proclaiming its mission to “dominate and control the military use of space to protect U.S. interests and investments.”
*Alice Slater serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War, is a CODEPINK affiliate, and represents the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation at the United Nations. [IDN-InDepthNews – 21 August 2018]
Photo credit: Military Times
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