(Reactions to recent events by Harrison Schmitt — Heartland Institute Board member, former U.S. Senator (R-N.M.), and the last man (and first scientist) to set foot on the moon. (Cross-posted at America’s Uncommon Sense):
President Obama’s intent to isolate the truly democratic State of Israel and render it defenseless against our common enemy of radical Islam found clear expression in recent days. “Unsustainable” applies to the Administration’s reactions to the so-called Arab/Islamic “Spring” (looking more and more like a continuing Ice Age for democracy). The Middle East revolutionaries closely resemble the Mob of the French Revolution rather than the thoughtful believers in liberty and self-government that led the American Revolution.
Fortunately, most in Congress appear to disagree with the President’s rude, unjustified and dangerous treatment of an essential ally [See essay No. 27]. Equally fortunate, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu clearly and powerfully articulated both the value of Israel’s continued existence to the United States and the enormous consequences of its destruction. Israel does make mistakes[See essay No. 28]; however, it remains a critical, truly democratic, if sometimes flawed ally in our war against Islamic terrorism and in the defense of liberty.
“Unsustainable” policies lie at the core of last month’s “Revolt of the Apollo Astronauts.” On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s address to Congress challenging a generation to go to the Moon, prominent Apollo astronauts spoke out in defense of a strong and sustained American space exploration program [See essay No. 46; and Armstrong et al. in USA Today, May 25, 2011 ]. The pre-Sputnik view expressing the lack of any geopolitical significance to space held by President Obama and his Administration cannot be condoned. The global challenges posed by China are as great or greater as those faced by Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy during the Cold War. China’s focus, as was the Soviet Union’s, is global dominance — ideologically, militarily and economically.
On the other hand, America’s beacon of liberty threatens the total internal control exerted by China’s rulers. China’s leaders recognize the psychological impact of space dominance on internal as well as global perceptions, learning well from America’s experience with Apollo. They also recognize the practical impact of space dominance on technological and educational excellence. China’s taikonauts (astronauts) are national heroes who inspire the younger generation and personify their country’s ambitious goals for the 21st Century.
The next President must add space policy to the many issues he or she addresses in the 2012 campaign and in the White House of 2013. Dismantling an aging and less and less relevant NASA and focusing a new National Space Exploration Administration on the geopolitical significance of deep space exploration clearly must be seriously considered. It appears to be the only option left for America to be the “world’s leading space-faring nation” once again – the role President Kennedy envisioned when he made a genuinely “gutsy decision” to send Americans to the Moon half a century ago.
The most discouraging aspect of both the mainstream (liberal) and conservative media’s 24-7 coverage of the despicable activities of a New York Congressman is that the real dangers to the United States at home and abroad have been left largely in the background. Unless the “unsustainable” entitlement spending and public employee benefits at national and state levels soon come under sustainable control, one Congressman’s perverted behavior will be the least of our worries [See essays No. 6, No. 8, No. 38, No. 42, and No. 45]. The American people have very little time left to show the world that we have the staying power to repair the constitutional damage of the last 100 years and particularly of the last 6 years. As in the 1850s, Americans have divided themselves between those who would restrict liberty and those who would expand liberty. Let us work to see that the electorate better addresses this division in 2012 than it did in the decades prior to the Civil War.