Gazing at shooting stars while camping in the San Luis Valley recently, I mused that space should be the world's peaceful commons, a vast place that people world wide would agree is off limits for militarism and greed. It isn't.
"The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America's best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation," Vice President Mike Pence told an audience at the Pentagon in August, according to the New York Times.
President Donald Trump had previously said, "We must have American dominance in space," according to The Guardian. And that means maintaining full protection of U.S. satellites.
The concern about anti-satellite weaponry from Russia and China is a real one, Pentagon officials and aerospace experts say. A United States intelligence assessment of threats in February warned that Russia and China will be able to shoot down American satellites within two to three years.
Such an ability could be used to destroy American global-positioning system satellites, as well as military and civilian communications satellites, to say nothing of the country's fleet of spy satellites.
The GPS satellites guide aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, drones in the skies above Yemen and fighter jets over Syria. American ground troops on patrol in Afghanistan use GPS coordinates to track their movement, and intelligence officers depend on spy satellites to gather information on adversaries. What a nightmare!
Both U.S. and Russian drones are surveying and dropping bombs on Syria, directed from space. In an interview in GQ Magazine with former drone pilot Brandon Bryant, Bryant recalls "sitting in a control station on an Air Force base in Nevada, the three victims were walking on a dirt road in Afghanistan. After the Hellfire missile fired from the drone struck the three men, Bryant watched the aftermath on his infrared display."
"The smoke clears, and there's pieces of the two guys around the crater. And there's this guy over here, and he's missing his right leg above his knee. He's holding it, and he's rolling around, and the blood is squirting out of his leg, and it's hitting the ground, and it's hot. His blood is hot," Bryant says. "But when it hits the ground, it starts to cool off; the pool cools fast. It took him a long time to die. I just watched him. I watched him become the same color as the ground he was lying on."
Won't the day of reckoning arrive? Aren't we engendering the wrath and indignation of more and more of the world's citizens by our unilateral, imperious behavior?
"Our violence spawns violence and never-ending configurations of enraged militants," writes Chris Hedges, for TruthDig.
Stop drones. Stop perpetual war. Make space peaceful for all.
Have a look at space4peace.org.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.