During a routine video chat with astronauts aboard the International Space Station that was livestreamed to schools around the country, Donald Trump could not resist talking about the "tremendous military applications in space" and the size of the U.S. military.
Donald Trump can manage to ruin even the most harmless of public relations opportunities, as he did during a video chat with astronauts aboard the International Space Station that was livestreamed to schools around the country.
Rather than discussing the wonders of space exploration and the impressive work that astronauts do, as you might expect a president to discuss for the benefit of young students, Trump decided to bring up the “tremendous military application in space,” then bragged about his proposed bulking up of a military that is already more powerful than any on Earth:
Wow. Trump just told millions of schoolchildren about the “tremendous military applications in space,” then hinted at a space weapons race pic.twitter.com/quR6FSa8m5
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) April 24, 2017
I have to say, there’s tremendous military application in space. We’re rebuilding our military like never before, we’re ordering equipment, and we’re going to have the strongest military that we’ve ever had, the strongest military that the world has ever seen, and there’s been no time that we’ve ever needed it more. And I’m sure that every student watching wants to know what is next for Americans in space.
Aside from the inappropriateness of the subject where schoolchildren are concerned, Trump’s digression is also a potentially dangerous public diplomacy gaffe. With tensions around the globe at an all-time high, particularly with North Korea and Russia-allied Syria, Trump’s statement could be interpreted as a threat of space-based warfare.
Although he didn’t specifically mention weaponizing space, which is governed by several treaties, he certainly seemed to imply it with his remark about “military application in space” immediately followed by boasts about the size of our military and “ordering equipment.” Anyone in a space-capable nation would have to sit up and take notice.
At a minimum, though, Trump took an innocuous opportunity for children to see our astronauts in action, and turned it into a frightening and politicized indoctrination session about military might. It was another horrifying and deeply unpresidential moment for Trump.