There have been two developments in the past month that illustrate clearly what is wrong with the White House’s perception of America’s place in the world. Going far beyond the oft-repeated nonsense that the United States is somehow the “leader of the free world,” the Trump Administration has taken several positions that sustain the bizarre view that such leadership can only be exercised if the United States is completely dominant in all relevant areas. Beyond that, Washington is now also asserting that those who do not go along with the charade and abide by the rules laid down will be subject to punishment to force compliance.
The first issue has to do with outer space. There is an international treaty agreed to in 1967, the so-called Outer Space Treaty, which has been signed by 107 countries including most Europeans, Russia, China and the United States. Conventional weapons or electronic systems designed to protect orbiting satellites from attack are permitted over where the atmosphere ends 62 miles above the Earth’s surface, but outer space is supposed to be free to all. The treaty also forbids any colonization or appropriation of the moon or planets by any national authority.
President Donald Trump apparently is not familiar with the treaty. Speaking before an audience at the National Space Council on June 18th, he said that he was, on his own presidential authority “…hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces…our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security. It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”
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