Canadian’s sudden interest in the Bank of Canada is puzzling

In the past, the operation of the Bank of Canada has been only been of interest to policy wonks.

Now almost everyone has an opinion according to recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute. Only 13 per cent of those polled did not respond when asked whether they trust the Bank of Canada.

image: ArchDaily

On average, less than one-half (41%) said they do not trust the Bank of Canada. But more than one-half of Conservative voters (59%) say they do not trust the bank. For voters of the People’s Party of Canada, almost nine out of ten (86%) say they do not trust the bank.

Populist Conservative and PPC voters have, no doubt, been influenced by politicians who would like to see the Bank of Canada politicized. It’s a spill over effect from U.S. politics where right-wingers have politicized the Supreme Court.

Despite offering an opinion, I suspect that most Canadians know little about the role of the Bank of Canada. I had to look it up. Their website says, in part:

The Bank of Canada’s areas of responsibility are: Monetary policy, Financial system, Currency, Funds management, and Retail payments supervision.

This doesn’t seem like particularly exciting stuff to me but there’s a growing perception that the Bank of Canada is an arm of the federal government. However, the BoC is an independent Crown corporation that is strictly independent of the politics.

Perhaps the populist voters of the Conservative and PPC parties confuse the BoC with the role of banks under the Emergencies Act.  That act directed banks and other financial institutions to stop doing business with people associated with the anti-vaccine mandate convoy in the nation’s capital, with the intention of drying up the well-funded occupation.

Or maybe Canadians think, as armchair quarterbacks, that they could have done a better job than the experts on the board of the BoC.

I doubt it.

We live in times of great uncertainty and two years ago, no one could have predicted the way things have unfolded.

Back then, everyone agreed that the only way to halt the pandemic was to have people stay at home. And if they couldn’t work, give them money in order to make ends meet.

Canadians saved money during the pandemic and now they want to spend it. Demand for goods and services is high and supply is low.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Economists are now predicting a recession but they have been wrong before.

“Why did economists fail to see inflation coming?” wonders business reporter Ian McGugan. “Why did central banks stumble in the battle to control rising prices? It’s easy to blame the problem on politics, on complacency or on the specific issues around the pandemic, but what seems to fit the facts best is a simpler explanation. There is just a lot we don’t understand about inflation (Globe and Mail June 25, 2020).”

What happens next is anyone’s guess. We live in unprecedented times and anyone who suggests that the BoC could have done better job has the benefit of hindsight.

Bitcoin fervour turns evangelical

Despite heavy losses by investors who see their money evaporate overnight in what has been called a Ponzi scheme, the faithful never give up hope that cryptocurrencies will save us from the evil clutches of central banks.

image: NewsBTC

Devotion to cryptocurrencies has taken on the form of a new religion. One of the apostles is Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre.

He said that a government led by him would do more to normalize cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to “decentralize” the economy and reduce the influence of central bankers.

Poilievre wants to “restore sound money.”

“Sound money” is one of the tenets of the new religion of the Great Reset; when freedom is grasped from the hands of the tyrants who control the world.

The prophets of “sound money” have been around a long time. Sound money or hard currencies are ones that presumably don’t change in value over time, an example being currencies tied to value of gold.

Like all disciples of the Great Reset, Poilievre gets inspiration from the gospel of YouTube. He appeared on a cryptocurrency podcast hosted by a Bitcoin trader who has promoted COVID-19 conspiracies and has compared central banking policies to slavery and Nazi Germany.

Poilievre told the show’s host that he and his wife occasionally watch his cryptocurrency YouTube channel “late into the night.”

“I find it extremely informative and my wife and I have been known to watch YouTube and your channel late into the night once we’ve got the kids to bed,” Poilievre said. “And, I’ve always enjoyed it and I’ve learned a lot about Bitcoin and other monetary issues from listening to you.”

Bitcoin is a lousy investment. Billionaire Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, says investment in Bitcoin has the potential to collapse, wiping out tens of billions of dollars in wealth for casual buyers.

“Bitcoin is ingenious but it has no unique value at all. It doesn’t produce anything. You can stare at it all day and no little Bitcoins come out. It’s a delusion, basically,” Buffett said in a 2019 interview with CNBC, adding it’s like “rat poison” for investors.

Even some of Bitcoin’s biggest advocates often characterize it, without any apparent shame: “Bitcoin is kind of a Ponzi scheme that starts with smart people,” says crypto investor Naval Ravikant.

The Great Reset faithful have contempt for Elon Musk, the erratic, interstellar oligarch who has betrayed Bitcoin by first championing it and then backtracking, tweeting, “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions,” and saying that Tesla would no longer accept it as a valid form of payment.

Bitcoins are a dirty currency, not just because they are used to traffic children into the sex trade and to launder cartel money but because Bitcoin transactions, called “mining,” require huge amounts of fossil fuel energy.

According to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index the carbon footprint of Bitcoin is equivalent to that of New Zealand, with both emitting nearly 37 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

But facts matter little to the faithful. As long as they can warm themselves in the glow of the omnipotent echo chamber of YouTube, they can be sure of the Truths that issue forth.

The new indigenous stereotypes

Finding unmarked burial sites outside the former Kamloops residential school more than a year ago ignited global awareness of Indigenous concerns, but it has not left the world with a greater understanding of the lives and aspirations of First Nations people says Geoff Russ, a Haida journalist based in British Columbia.

image: WFUV

“Indigenous people remain as misunderstood today as they were a year ago, or even 60 years go,” says Russ. “Whoever has watched a John Ford Western can see the ignorance, deliberate or not, that accompanies those movies’ portrayal of Indigenous people as the primitively-armed antagonists.”

The new indigenous stereotypes are: “no longer primarily portrayed as intimidating warriors, but as sympathetic characters who require daily apologies (National Post, May 28, 2022),” adds Russ.

The discovery of unmarked burial sites led to a number of church burnings across Canada. This left Canadians thinking that First Nations have a “revolutionary mindset.”

Indigenous people are wrongly characterized as anti-development, says Russ, “the anti-pipeline blockades on Wet’suwet’en land perfectly symbolize the divide between what non-indigenous people think Indigenous people want, and what the latter actually wants.

I have often wondered why Indigenous people continue to be viewed as the “other.” After all, we are all one people.

This is not suggest that the original people of North America, the first settlers, don’t have grievances over treaties broken and land taken.

The stereotype that European colonizers held of First Nations wavered between one of glorification and contempt. At one time they were noble savages, wild human, an “other” who has not been “corrupted” by civilization, and therefore symbolizes humanity’s innate goodness.

At the same time, the original people were stereotyped as inferior Europeans in need of rehabilitation; conversion from their primitive cultures and religions into English-speaking Christians.

More recently, Indigenous people are stereotyped as superior managers of the land and environment.

The history of human occupation of the earth reveals how similar we all are.

Given the technologies of clothing, shelter, weapons and tools, we exploit resources wherever we find them.

We arrived in North America, in what is now Canada, 16,000 years ago. By “we,” I don’t mean we European colonizers, I mean we Homo sapiens.

There were no indigenous people when we arrived. The animals that lived in North America had no fear of humans. We could just walk up to them and kill them. And we did.

When we entered North America across the Bering Strait, we had no idea that we were walking into a new world. In just a few thousand years we traveled all the way to the tip of South America.

Along the way, we exterminated many species says Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens:

“According to current estimates, in that short interval, North America lost thirty-four out of forty-seven genera of large animals. South America lost fifty out of sixty.”

Oh well, some might say, the arrival of humans and the mass extermination of species was just a coincidence. But no, after flourishing for 30 million years, sabre-toothed cats were gone as well as giant sloths that weighed up to eight tons. Gone were giant beavers, horses, camels and mammoths.

We arrived in Australia with the same disastrous results. Within a few thousand years, out of twenty-four species of large Australian animals, most of them marsupials, twenty-three became extinct.

The unsettling fact is that we were not good stewards of the land, not as first people and certainly not as European colonizers.

Welcome to the big tent of conspiracy theories

As all significant political movements do, conspiracy theorists are merging under one big tent.

image: Philadelphia Inquirer

Movements are convenient way of identifying where you fit in on certain issues. If you are a liberal, you can find a set of values consistent with yours. And if you aren’t sure what you should think about a particular issue, just look at what the group’s opinion is. It helps clarify who’s with you and who isn’t.

Big tents are the goal of successful political parties: the more voters you can include, the greater your chances of getting into power. Big tents are appealing to conspiracy theorists because they create communication networks.

For convenience, let’s label the conspiracy theorists movement as “popster” from populism meaning grassroots, and from Apophenia: the condition of seeing or imagining patterns in random occurrences.

Like any big tent movement, the overarching tenets of popsters are few: believe that a handful of sinister individuals control world affairs for their nefarious ends; that the scientific method to be a means of confirming what they know to be true; that freedom means acting contrary to public health such as vaccinations.

While the overthrow of the government often seems to be the goal of popsters, they seldom have a identifiable platform for replacement nor do they run for office.

An exception was the Trump administration which was a disaster. While President Trump echoed the anger and discontent of popsters, he was incoherent. Popsters are against governments of all stripes.

Conservative leader candidate Pierre Poilievre is making a mistake in thinking he can convince popsters to vote Conservative.

He thinks that by supporting “freedom convoys,” normalizing cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum, and wild talk about firing Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, that he will win support.

What Poilievre fails to realize is that popsters have a deep seated suspicion of political leaders because governments are just puppets of those really in control; one of those being Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

At a lunchtime rally for Poilievre in Ontario, a woman wanted know how Poilievre could be trusted when a “member” of the WEF was in his party.

She was referring to John Baird, the former foreign affairs minister under Stephen Harper. As foreign minister, he went four times. “I haven’t had any contact with them since 2015,” said Baird.

The same woman believes that Schwab, who founded the World Economic Forum more than 50 years ago, along with billionaires Bill Gates and George Soros are trying to take over the world.

Another attendee at the Poilievre rally believed that COVID-19 vaccines are “experimental drugs.”

Some popsters believe the WEF either created the pandemic or is using it to control people, through microchips in vaccines or stealth socialism.

Popsters have latched onto language used by the WEF – the “Great Reset.” The WEF used the phrase to mean a more greener and equitable post-pandemic world. Now popsters see the Great Reset as a sinister plot for global control.

Sensible Conservatives will realize that popsters will not support conservatives and if they do, it will attempt to undermine the Conservatives party.

Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Frank Caputo is backing Jean Charest as leader of the Conservatives party.

Terrorists subvert Wet’suwet’en cause

Michael Fortier was jarred awake at 1:30 a.m. on May 4 by the banging on the drain pipe of his Montreal home. A neighbour was trying to get Fortier’s attention –his two cars were ablaze.

Fortier woke his wife and three kids and they ran from the house. An eyewitness said someone could have died if the flames had engulfed the house.

Damage at Costal Gaslink site in northern BC. image: Costal Gaslink

Surveillance footage of the firebombing showed two men pulling up on bikes, taking out a package and nonchalantly tossing it towards one car.

Montreal Counter-information claimed responsibility for the attack. On their website, mtlcounterinfo.org, they explained: “Mr. Fortier was a federal cabinet minister under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Today, he is the vice-chairman of capital markets at the Royal Bank of Canada. This act is in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders and all those who fight the extractive industry.”

You might wonder why the home of a bank executive in Montreal would be firebombed by so-called Wet’suwet’en land defenders. Well, you see, RBC is one of the financers of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory 4,685 km away.

RBC is just one of five commercial banks that supplies working capital to Coastal GasLink.

MTL Counter-info warns on their website:

“Mr. Fortier may think that his money and connections will protect him, his children and his grandchildren. But the ecologically dispossessed will know the names of those responsible. He must understand that no one is safe amid this storm.”

Tenuous hardly describes how thin the thread is between Fortier and the natural gas pipeline project in northern B.C. Should I be worried because I bank at RBC? Might I have to flee my home in the middle of the night from terrorists who are in fit of self-righteous indignation?

Closer to home, workers at the Coastal GasLink pipeline site fled for their lives in the middle of the night on February 17 after 20 masked attackers, some carrying axes, overwhelmed security at the site. Nine people on the pipeline site were forced to escape their remote forest work camp while attackers tried to torch a truck.

“This is absolutely shocking. And quite scary,” said MLA Ellis Ross, former chief councillor of the Haisla Nation. “There were workers inside a truck while attackers were trying to light it on fire. A lot of the people working on the pipeline are First Nations themselves.”

The terrorists caused millions of damage to machinery and property. The perpetrators have not been arrested.

The Wet’suwet’en are divided over the merits of pipeline. The elected band councils of 20 Indigenous communities along the pipeline route, including five Wet’suwet’en bands, support it. In a poll, 92 per cent of the Wet’suwet’en community are in favour of the project. Hereditary chiefs oppose it.

If these terrorists really respected the Wet’suwet’en people, they would let them figure it out themselves.

Instead, these wannabe warriors are taking the cause into their own hands, much to the dismay of Wet’suwet’en leaders. Theresa Tait Day, a hereditary sub chief says:  “I ran into a few claiming to be ‘land defenders’ coming to Smithers [the location of Wet’suwet’en office]. I said ‘go home, we don’t need you here’. But they did come and one even had a warrant out for their arrest.”

Doctors’ pay model wasn’t always broken

While doctors weren’t happy with Medicare at first, they eventually approved of the pay model.

Doctors when on strike in Saskatchewan when Medicare was first enacted in 1962.

Saskatchewan doctors complained that they would be turned into civil servants, unable to follow their own judgment about what was best for their patients. The day Medicare was enacted, 90 per cent of the province’s doctors went on strike.

Supporters of doctors strike. image: Canadian Dimension

Months later, much of the support for the doctor’s strike had dissipated. After the government made some amendments to the Act, including one amendment allowed doctors to practice outside the plan, doctors returned to work.

 Saskatchewan became as model for what was become universal health care for all of Canada.

The familiar pay system for doctors -fee-for-service- was born. It worked well for decades. Doctors are paid for each body that walks through the door, regardless whether the patient has a cold or some complex medical problem.

Doctors liked the system because they were independent business operators. No nanny state told them how to run their practice.

Now that pay model isn’t working for anyone: not for doctors and not for patients. With real estate prices going through the roof, with expensive medical diagnostic tools, and the rising cost of wages for staff and the price of utilities, doctors struggle to make ends meet.

Doctors now identify fee-for-service as the path to minimum wages.

Alicia Pawluk became a doctor in 2018 and treats patients at a clinic in Victoria. She says under the current system, the take-home income of a family doctor is comparable to minimum wage.

“The average physician graduates with about $200,000 of debt. Minimum wage is not going to be able to cover the sort of payments that we need to make,” said Pawluk.

Another Victoria physician, Dr. Jennifer Lush, says she works 70-hour weeks and struggles with work-life balance. Half the hours Lush puts in are unpaid because they are spent doing paperwork.

“The minute my kids are tucked in bed, I’m pulling out my computer and I start charting. Often I will chart until two or three in the morning,”

Given that almost one million British Columbians don’t have a family doctor, it’s surprising to learn that there is no shortage of doctors in B.C.  Data compiled by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows B.C. had 134 family physicians per 100,000 people in 2020, the third-highest in the country. The number of doctors trained in family medicine grew 11.2 per cent between 2016 and 2020.

However, the number of British Columbians without a family doctor is the highest in Canada on a per capita basis. There are two reasons: the population of B.C. is growing and fewer doctors are willing to slave away at the fee-for-service model.

British Columbia has about 6,800 family doctors by training, but less than half of them are practicing traditional family medicine.

New graduates are choosing more hospital-based work instead and specialized practice, which provide a predictable income, team supports, a vacation and maternity leave.

Doctors no longer detest being employed by the state. With improved working conditions, who can blame them?

The solution is to build provincial clinics and hire doctors to operate them. It’s expensive but so is a pay model that no longer serves British Colombians.  

Problem of “catch and release” offenders is a hot political issue

Kamloopsians are being terrorized, businesses vandalized and personal property stolen by a small number of people.

What can be done? It will certainly be an issue in the upcoming municipal election in October.

While it’s tempting to blame the homeless for crimes but the opposite is true: some vandals and petty thieves just happen to be homeless.

image: Kamloops RCMP

Some don’t even live in Kamloops but move from town to town.

Such was the case last month when Kamloops RCMP responded to complaints from merchants about thieves making off with shopping carts full of stolen merchandise. During the blitz, police made a number of arrests of men and women wanted in other B.C. cities.

Targeting prolific offenders is one solution but holding them is a problem.

In a letter to B.C.’s Attorney-General David Eby, mayors of the 13 largest B.C. cities told him that the province has failed to stop a tiny number of people from committing a large number of crimes.  And a similar small number of mentally ill make citizens feel unsafe in their communities.

The mayors of some cities said they had 10 to 50 offenders stuck in a “catch and release justice cycle.”

They suggested that more community courts should be created to divert some away from jail time and into treatment.

Many are obviously mentally ill. The parade of desperate humanity is hard to watch. It breaks my heart to my fellow human beings in such a traumatic state – walking down the street yelling at themselves or yelling at others, often lashing out at others.

Mayoral candidate Reid Hamer-jackson has seen the problem up close from his car lot on Victoria Street West. He told me that he knows a number of homeless Kamloopsians by name and fears for their health because they have been banned from shelters.

Hamer-jackson knows what vulnerable street people are going through, having spent some time on the streets of Edmonton.

He often gets up at four in the morning to talk to street people and especially in the dead of winter, to help them find shelter. Hamer-jackson told me that some of these frail addicted beings live on the edge of survival and some have died or are about to die if nothing is done.

Hamer-jackson would like to see treatment centres located in rural areas outside Kamloops like Vision Quest Located outside of Logan Lake, sprawled over 20 acres of land.

Or a treatment centre could be located on city property north of Rayleigh, Hamer-jackson said. Such a area outside the city would allow addicts to be away from bad influences. It might be a hard sell.  When he pitched the idea to one street person, they replied that they didn’t want to be held behind a fence. He replied: “the only ones behind fences will be cows.”

Not all of Kamloops’ homeless are criminal or addicted; they are just trying to get by. With winter gone, homeless camps have been springing up by the river, just a block from my home. When I walk by their camps on a warm spring day, their lives seem idyllic –until I realize they are not on vacation and that homelessness is not an option they choose.

True face of homelessness isn’t what’s seen on the streets.

A mayoral candidate in the upcoming October municipal election wants BC Housing to conduct an independent review of shelters and facilities in Kamloops.

BC Housing apartment operated by CSI Kamloops for low to moderate income tenants

The candidate, Reid Hamer-Jackson, said in a press release: “Due to the lack of action, with respect to these facilities, problems have grown throughout our community.” While he is focusing on two projects, Canadian Mental Health Association and ASK Wellness Society, he lumps these with others funded by BC Housing.

That’s a mistake. Many of the shelters funded by BC Housing operate without any problems whatsoever.

I sympathize with businesses who are victims of senseless crime. Windows of local businesses are shattered and goods stolen. But I object to the majority of Kamloops’ homeless being blamed by the actions of a few.

I don’t think Hamer-Jackson understands the scope of projects funded by BC Housing.

Does he mean the 31 low-to-moderate income units operated by the Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family & Community Services Society 975 Singh Street?

Or the 58 units operated by Tk’emlups te Secwepemc (TteS)/YneT Society on Kamloopa Way & Chilcotin Rd?

I mention those two because the face of Kamloops’ homeless is not what you see on West Victoria Street. In a homeless count done in Kamloops by the Homelessness Services Association of B.C. last year, almost one-half of the homeless surveyed self-identified as Indigenous.

Does he mean the 112 low-to-moderate income rental units on 6th and Victoria operated by Centre for Seniors Information BC Interior Society, of which I’m president? I can assure Mr. Hamer-Jackson that every one of our tenants has been thoroughly vetted. Many of them were previously homeless.

Again, the true face of Kamloops homeless is not what you see on the streets. Of the 206 surveyed by the Homelessness Services Association of B.C., two-thirds of them were not on the street but sheltered. They were staying in shelters, couch-surfing, and depending on the kindness of friends. True, you might see them in the day but they are indistinguishable from regular Kamloopsians.

The same survey of Kamloops’ homeless also reveals troubling fact: one-third indicated that as a child or youth, they were in foster care, in a youth group home or on an Independent Living Agreement. Many have “aged out” of care facilities and with few resources, are now on the street.

Ten percent of Kamloops’ homeless are under the age of 25, some of them vulnerable women open to sexual assault.

One of those youths was Katherine McParland, former Executive Director for A Way Home, who tragically died last year.

Katherine spent much of her teenage years in foster homes and, once she aged out of the system at 19, was homeless in Kamloops for a period of time.

As an influential member of our community, she told of how she would sleep outdoors and couch surf at the homes of friends. McParland would describe foster care as the “superhighway to homelessness.”

The face of Kamloops homeless is as varied as the citizens who live here. A few of the homeless cause a lot of damage.

The solution to homelessness is homes, not stalling by unnecessary studies.

War is an anachronism

War is a poor way to control and influence others.

A better way is propaganda. It surprises me that Russia resorts to war in Ukraine when its propaganda machine is so effective. Invasions leave enemies who just want to kill you.

image: book cover

The best way is to use propaganda that’s not even recognized as propaganda.

That’s what U.S. does so well. They call it the “entertainment industry.” Others call it the exportation of U.S. culture. Fundamentally, its propaganda. It portrays the American way of life as ideal; despite the fact that millions of Americans who face poverty, discrimination and poor access to health care.

Tanner Mirrless, in his book Hearts and Mines, The US Empire’s Culture Industry details the U.S. propaganda machine. The way of winning the world was formulated long ago.

“On April 14,1917, a week after the US joined the Allied forces by declaring war on Germany, President Woodrow Wilson used his executive power to establish the Committee on Public Information (CPI) for the purpose of rallying US and world opinion to the cause of defeating Germany and promoting the supremacy of the United States’ liberal democratic capitalist ideals,” says Mirrless.

“The CPI mobilized every sector of the US culture industry, especially the PR wing, in order to engineer public consent to its version of America and to censor expressions of dissent.”

The U.S. cultural industry has had a profound effect on the spread of American values. With the advent of rock ‘n’ roll in the sixties, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley were all sporting blue denim. This aesthetic penetrated the Soviet Bloc and Russian youths clamored for the apparel of the rebel U.S. culture.

Bruce Springsteen released Born In The USA in 1984. The cover, shot by Annie Lebovitz, featured Springsteen’s ass in all its American glory, clad in a pair of jeans – these were jeans that had been worn by a red-blooded, all-American male. “It was the ass of free-market capitalism (dazeddigital.com).”

Russian youths enthusiastically embraced jeans and all that they represented. It was a propaganda coup.

Despite the successes of the mighty U.S. propaganda machine, the U.S. continues to go to war with bad outcomes.

The American invasion of Canada in the War of 1812 didn’t go well for the Yankees. In retaliation, we invaded Washington City and burned down the Capitol. It was the only time since the American Revolutionary War that a foreign power has captured and occupied the capital of the United States.

In echoes of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, then past U.S. President Thomas Jefferson declared in August,1812, “The acquisition of Canada, this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching.”

Russian president Putin displays the same hubris as Jefferson when he imagines a walk in the park as Ukrainians throw flowers and kisses at the liberating troops.

If you want to gain influence and control of others, don’t corner them in a back alley with a gang of thugs at your back and beat them up –win them over with entertainment that carries your culture.

Persuasion is far more effective than war.  It’s time we sent the military types like Putin to the corner with a dunce cap on and let them reflect on the error of their ways.

 “Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer. (Sun Tzu).”

Coming next: Russia’s invasion of space

Russia is expanding its domain. Not satisfied with grinding Ukraine into submission, now Russia is threatening a war in space. President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated that he will use weapons to achieve his expansionary illusions on the ground and in the heavens.

image: iStock

Russia is threatening to take down Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites because they helped the Ukrainian army sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, Moskva. The sinking of the key warship has been seen as a humiliating blow to Moscow as the war rages on.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, tweeted: “Russia is starting a space war! Medvedev [an ally of Putin] announced a task is given to destroy @elonmusk Starlink satellites in a document by ‘United Russia [a party document].’ It says that firing on the Moskva was done with the help of Starlinks.”

It’s not an idle threat on the part of the Russians.

To demonstrate that they could take down satellites, Russia stalked an American reconnaissance satellite called USA-245 in January, 2020.  

Then the stalking Russian satellite, Kosmos-2542, split in two. In fact, the larger part spat out another, smaller craft. The smaller one moved even closer to the American satellite. Speaking later, in February, General John W. “Jay” Raymond, chief of the newly established Space Force, would describe it by saying, “The way I picture it, in my mind, is like Russian nesting dolls (Harper’s, November, 2021)”

After the two Russian satellites stalked the U.S. satellite for months, the smaller Russian satellite fired a projectile. While it didn’t hit the U.S. satellite, it was a clear warning shot.

Of course, Russia claimed that the projectile wasn’t a weapon at all but merely part of a “close inspection” and that “most importantly, it did not breach any norms or principles of international law.” The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the American assessment of the events “propaganda,” and responded that the U.S. accusation was hypocrisy: the United States and Britain, it said, “naturally keep silent about their own efforts” and “programs on the possible use of … counter-satellite weapons.”

We are extremely dependent on satellites. Not only for GPS location but hurricane tracking, search-and rescue locators, financial transactions, and emergency messages -all could go dark.

The military depends on satellites. American military reliance on space has been building since Operation Desert Storm, when U.S. satellites proved a tactical advantage: American troops navigated unmarked stretches of desert using GPS and blindsided the Iraqi Army, which expected them to approach by road.

The war in space is not limited to knocking out satellites. China demonstrated a “spoofing” technology, a type of interference where a satellite’s signal is mimicked by a fake. In July 2019, a U.S. container ship in the port of Shanghai received false GPS locations and notifications of phantom ships fast approaching. The spoofing was likely sent by the China military. The captain of the ship could see with binoculars that the GPS was wrong but without visual confirmation, the spoof could have been disastrous.

The West has avoided direct war with Russia, despite Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine. If Russia’s expands its war into space, we will have no alternative but to respond. In a race to destroy each other, there will be no refuge.