Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Why the Space Force Is Just Like Trump University

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David Graham writes in the Atlantic:

Late Thursday morning, after playing a round of golf and firing off an angry missive about the Russia investigation, Donald Trump wrote this:

The tweet is a perfect synecdoche for the program in question: short, punchy, and memorable, but ultimately substance-free. The Space Force and the White House’s rollout for it are the most focused exercises in Trumpian branding the nation has seen since the president took office, a project reminiscent of Trump University. Trump is selling the public one idea—a glitzy, pathbreaking new wing of government—and giving it instead a potentially kludgy reorganization of existing government functions.

[Trump has called for the creation of a new military branch. So far, Congress is ignoring him.]

Trump first announced the Space Force, which he says will be a sixth, co-equal branch of the military, in June, when he signed a space-policy directive. But that directive didn’t even mention the Space Force, nor was it totally clear how it would work. As my colleague Marina Koren has reported, many top commanders in the military (including Secretary of Defense James Mattis) opposed the plan, arguing that the Pentagon already had the right infrastructure in place to achieve what Trump wanted: the ability to defend American interests in space. There’s even an existing Air Force Space Command.

Of course, bureaucratic maneuvering isn’t as sexy as the first new branch of the military since 1947. The actual function of the Space Force isn’t nearly as sexy as its name implies, either. As Vice President Mike Pence outlined in a speech Thursday announcing a new Pentagon report on the project, the Space Force is not so much about sending battalions of armed astronauts into the atmosphere as it is about satellites and space-based defense systems. Those functions are potentially important, and American adversaries are interested in making plays for space weapons, but the Defense Department is already working on them.

When Pence complained Thursday that “while our adversaries have been busy weaponizing space, too often we have bureaucratized it,” he was protesting too much. Even though what Trump is proposing is basically a reorganization of existing systems, he has treated it as if he is launching something unprecedented. (The Space Force also can’t go forward unless Congress authorizes it.)

Later on Thursday, the Trump reelection campaign sent an email inviting supporters to vote on a logo for the Space Force. Here are the options: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2018 at 3:20 pm

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