Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"At this unique time in history when it is imperative that nations of the world join in cooperation to share resources to end the global plague assaulting its inhabitants and to avoid catastrophic climate destruction or earth-shattering nuclear devastation," writes Slater, "we are instead squandering our treasure and intellectual capacity on weapons and space warfare." (Photo: Shutterstock)

"At this unique time in history when it is imperative that nations of the world join in cooperation to share resources to end the global plague assaulting its inhabitants and to avoid catastrophic climate destruction or earth-shattering nuclear devastation," writes Slater, "we are instead squandering our treasure and intellectual capacity on weapons and space warfare." (Photo: Shutterstock)

Time to Negotiate for Peace in Space

A legally binding international treaty banning the basing of weapons in space should be the global objective of all.

Alice Slater

The U.S. mission to dominate and control the military use of space has been, historically and at present, a major obstacle to achieving nuclear disarmament and a peaceful path to preserve all life on earth.

Reagan rejected Gorbachev's offer to give up Star Wars as a condition for both countries to eliminate all their nuclear weapons when the wall came down and Gorbachev released all of Eastern Europe from Soviet occupation, miraculously, without a shot.

Bush and Obama blocked any discussion in 2008 and 2014 on Russian and Chinese proposals for a space weapons ban in the consensus-bound Committee for Disarmament in Geneva where those countries tabled a draft treaty for consideration.

After enacting a treaty in 1967 to prevent the placement of weapons of mass destruction in outer space, each year since the 1980s the United Nations has considered a resolution for the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) to prevent any weaponization of space which the U.S. consistently votes against.

Clinton refused Putin's offer to each cut our massive nuclear arsenals to 1,000 bombs each and call all the others to the table to negotiate for their elimination, provided we stopped developing missile sites in Romania.

Bush walked out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and put the new missile base in Romania with another opened under Trump in Poland, right in Russia's backyard.

Obama rejected Putin's offer to negotiate a treaty to ban cyber war.

Trump established a new U.S. military division—a so-called Space Force—separate from the U.S. Air Force to continue the destructive U.S. drive for space domination.

At this unique time in history when it is imperative that nations of the world join in cooperation to share resources to end the global plague assaulting its inhabitants and to avoid catastrophic climate destruction or earth-shattering nuclear devastation, we are instead squandering our treasure and intellectual capacity on weapons and space warfare.

There seems to be a crack in the phalanx of the U.S. military-industrial-congressional-academic-media-complex's opposition to making space a place for peace. John Fairlamb, retired Army colonel who formulated and implemented national security strategies and policies at the U.S. State Department and as the political-military affairs adviser for a major Army command has just issued a clarion call to reverse course.  In the piece—titled "The US Should Negotiate a Ban on Basing Weapons in Space"—Fairlamb argues that:

If the U.S. and other nations continue the current drift toward organizing and equipping to wage war in space, Russia, China and others will strive to improve capabilities to destroy U.S. space assets. Over time, this would greatly increase the threat to the full array of U.S. space-based capabilities. Intelligence, communications, surveillance, targeting and navigation assets already based in space, upon which the Department of Defense (DOD) depends for command and control of military operations, increasingly would be at significant risk. As a consequence, weaponizing space could become a classic case of trying to solve one problem while creating a much worse problem.

As Fairlamb notes:

[T]he Obama administration opposed a 2008 Russian and Chinese proposal to ban all weapons in space because it was unverifiable, contained no prohibition on developing and stockpiling space arms, and did not address ground-based space weapons such as direct ascent anti-satellite missiles.  

Instead of just criticizing others' proposals, the U.S. should join in the effort and do the hard work of crafting a space arms control agreement that deals with the concerns we have and that can be verified. A legally binding international treaty banning the basing of weapons in space should be the objective.

Let us hope that people of good will can make this happen. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Alice Slater

Alice Slater, author and nuclear disarmament advocate, is a member of the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War and UN NGO Representative of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Stop Line 5': Valve Turner Forces Shutdown of Enbridge Oil Pipeline in Michigan

"We are here to protect the water, land, and air that support all life, including our own. Line 5 poses an immediate threat to our lives and these actions are taken out of necessity and in self-defense."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Delay Is the New Denial': Study Confirms 99.9% of Scientists Agree on Climate

"It's pretty much case closed for any meaningful public conversation about the reality of human-caused climate change."

Brett Wilkins ·


Exposed: How Pfizer Exploits Secretive Vaccine Contracts to Strong-Arm Governments

"Pfizer has used its monopoly on a lifesaving vaccine to extract concessions from desperate governments," said the report's author, urging action from the Biden administration.

Jessica Corbett ·


'A Toxic Presence in the Party': Ocasio-Cortez Joins Calls for Jay Jacobs to Resign

"India Walton is the Democratic nominee for mayor of Buffalo. No amount of racist misogyny from the old boys' club is going to change that."

Brett Wilkins ·


New Multimedia Report Details Unprecedented 'Permian Climate Bomb' in Texas

"If the Biden Administration wants to be serious about its promise to demonstrate U.S. climate leadership, it must first clean up its own backyard."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo