By Nathan Barton
War in space? Military in space?
We who have been associated with The Price of Freedom, like many lovers of liberty, have always been interested in the exploring and settling space. As have Americans and Brits (Aussies, New Zealanders, and Canadians as well as English, Scots, Welsh, and Irish). It is a natural part of our heritage. “To boldly go…”
Lady Susan and I also are life-long fans, and even writers, of science fiction. (It’s not the point of this article, but the affinity of “libertarians” and science fiction is worth a comment or two in the future. As many others have in the past.) And it is easy to assume that mankind will take all its baggage, good and bad, into space. So the “peace in space” rhetoric since about 1955 or so is really an anomaly.
It is quite interesting, then, to contemplate Trump’s proposal to spin off yet another uniformed, armed force. This time just for space.
Just because too many people don’t think about it, let me share some lists of what we have now in the Fifty States:
Here are the FedGov uniformed services (several aren’t overtly armed):
- United States Army
- United States Navy
- United States Coast Guard
- United States Marine Corps
- United States Public Health Service (including the Indian Health Service)
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- United States Air Force
Each of these have some sort of a reserve force. We don’t include all the various armed and uniformed branches of various other executive departments, which are some kind of police. Here are a few:
- National Park Police
- Bureau of Indian Affairs Police
- United States Border Patrol
- Civil Air Patrol
- Many rangers and other employees of organizations like the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and the like are armed and in uniform
That is a LOT, and There are more, not counting police forces, for the states:
- National Guards, (Army and Air Force) – although horribly integrated into the Federal forces, they are separate entities
- State Guards, state uniformed, armed forces that are NOT subject to federalization – These go by several names, including State Military Reserve and State Defense Forces.
- State Naval Militias – roughly equivalent to State-controlled Naval Reserve but usually acting more like Coast Guard; they often consists of veterans and retirees of the USN, USCG, and USMC.
In addition, states and territories all have the “unorganized” Militia, consisting of all males age 17 to 50 (and in some states, all women of that age cohort as well). These do NOT include those who are in the active and reserve forces (federal or state), and sometimes does not include clerics, pacifists, and others. The unorganized militia may include self-organized militia units (without federal or state recognition), and still be “unorganized.”
The Fifty States are (and have been) a militarized society (using the term to include both naval and military traditions). The high level of military involvement by a very wide range of the population is considered evidence of the willingness of Americans to sacrifice for each other and the common good, and a key part of having a free nation.
It is of course easy to see the fallacy of these ideas – especially given the political climate and the imperial ambitions of the Presidency and Congress for generations. But for many who believed (and believe) the lies of the politicians about sacrificing time, wounds, and lives to “protect our freedom,” this is a very real factor. As a result, the lies and attacking without mercy enemies (and those who might be enemies), together with bullying, profiteering, and other evils continue to get worse.
So do we need yet ANOTHER armed service? To spread the American war on the world into the depths of space?
And so, is it within the power of the Congress and White House to do that? Reason.com has an interesting discussion by Ilya Somin on Space Force constitutionality. Apparently, this concern was raised in 1947, when Congress (and the White House) made the Army Air Forces (Army Air Corps) a separate branch. The argument? The Constitution specifically authorized Congress to raise and fund an army and a navy (with restrictions), but not to raise an “air force.” Of course, before that, the Army and Navy (including the Marine Corps, considered part of naval forces) already had aircraft: warplanes as well as cargo and observation aircraft.
It was decided, at the time, that splitting off the Air Force was not a violation of the Constitution but simply within the power of Congress to decide how to organize military (and implicitly naval) forces. But apparently, there was no actual court decision. Thus the issue is again raised.
But the real question is whether or not government, whether or not the FedGov, should be expanding its military reach and might into space. We’ve had a military presence in space (in the form of serving military officers as astronauts and in the form of military spy and GPS and other satellites, since the beginning of the space age. And of course, military weapons – primarily nuclear and non-nuclear warheads, have PASSED through space. (Space is usually defined as the “Karman Line” 62 miles (100 kilometers) above sea level.) They just don’t stay very long. But as far as I know, there has never even been a personal firearm carried into space, let alone a weapon that can be used to destroy things and kill people from space. (Of course, who would say? And maybe Russians or Chinese have done so.)
More on this subject later. Give us some feedback – what do you think of this idea?
Afterword: For many of us, it is fun to discuss whether the “Space Force” would better be the “US Space Navy” and organized with naval, not army/air force traditions and methods. What do you think?