In crafting his farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower deliberately wrote a speech to quell the age of excess that had been the 1950s. As the nation looked forward with optimism to the Kennedy presidency, the former D-Day general asked citizens to consider what he called the “military-industrial complex,” referring to the buildup of military forces to appease the private defense industry.
Nearly 60 years later, after a bipartisan effort to create a Space Force failed in 2017, President Trump revived the project a year later and announced the establishment of the sixth branch of the military: Space Force. He elaborated during his State of the Union address on Feb. 4, reveling in the applause from just over half of the chamber as the quick mention of this passion project was broadcast across the country.
“By creating a Space Force, the government is implying it has the capability to do war off Earth and believes it can do war off Earth to defend US national interests,” junior Vedang Verma said. “The creation of the Space Force, though it may be necessary in the future, feels like the Trump Administration attempting to leave a lasting mark on the country.”
Over the past several decades, a need for some sort of military presence in space has become clear. Accordingly, space-related operations have long been a fixture of the military, albeit under the Air Force, leading many to question whether or not the establishment of a new branch of the military was simply an administrative reshuffle.
“If we were at war, there could possibly be a need for a defensive force in space,” social science teacher Zach Crandall said. “I don’t see something like the Air Force, substituting planes with spaceships, becoming a reality.”
Space Force’s launch was shaky. It debuted a logo that seemed eerily similar to the Starfleet logo from Star Trek and unveiled uniforms that were camouflage, ignoring the obvious fact that such uniforms are unnecessary for on-the-ground operations and impractical in the very non-green and beige desert of space.
“Our armed forces are typically at the forefront of technology and even in peacetime are pioneers in innovation,” Verma said. “Personally I believe that the amount of federal money being pushed into the armed forces is reasonable simply for the fact that they are not only our nation’s primary source of political power and defense but also because they help push technology forward, which eventually improves our lives.”
The ability to determine what would actually occur with the branch is a key fact that has been left out. Details on what Space Force will actually do are either fraught or vague, leading many to question what Congress has allocated billions of dollars for.
“While I do believe that the prospects of a spacial military branch is necessary, I don’t feel that there is need for one now, when our most pressing military issues are here on Earth, what with North Korea, the Middle East skirmishes, and other such issues,” sophomore Aramis Reyes said.
There is no doubt that the military is a critical aspect of the United States. Every American should look at their military with a sense of pride and safety, and it deserves adequate funding. Every day, tens of thousands of soldiers sacrifice their everyday lives for the protection of our nation.
“It’s hard to oppose the military. Generally, that’s why military funding is rarely cut,” Crandall said. “The military is something people can look at as a patriotic feature of our government.”
However, Space Force specifically is the embodiment of bureaucracy run amok. Every small-government conservative and domestically-focused liberal can agree that this folly of a program is like a real-life attempt to get a “technology victory” in one of Sid Meier’s Civilization games. All this as the chronically underfunded Department of Veterans’ Affairs struggles to adequately deal with a suicide epidemic among the people that served our country with pride.
America has a place as a beacon of hope to many in the world. It has been behind international cooperation, from shaping the Fourteen Points, United Nations and the Camp David Accords. Space Force is not in-line with the values comprehensive foreign policy has been based on in the 21st century.
“While I believe that the next military endeavor should be to downsize and more importantly, keep American forces out of foreign affairs, due to treaties, contracts, and alliances, this may not be possible,” Reyes said. “So, from a more realistic standpoint, I would say that America’s next move is to once again flex it’s military muscle, but retain its current standpoint as mediator, aggressor, and foreign aid in the current world issues.”
In part, this can be attributed to a general feeling of malaise within the country. Over the past several years, there’s been a normalization of the abnormal across the political spectrum. With the concept of a news cycle fading out of existence, voters want a form of politics that’s less practical and more exciting.
This has created a political system burgeoning with populism. To attract the attention of citizens, unrealistic ideas have taken precedence among surging politicians who will inevitably fail to deliver. Our current form of politics is the moist environment that allows ideas like Space Force to not only spread, but also be taken seriously.
Many may feel that the government has drifted away from the goal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and toward an island of temporary fixes to non-existent problems. One day, our government will go back to its guiding principles, as it has in the past. But, for now, we have to accept the current reality: pragmatism is dead. Long live Space Force.