More on Musk, Starlink and Ukraine
Great reader e-mail over at TPM:
Musk’s behavior has been atrocious. But he shouldn’t have been allowed to be in that position in the first place. That’s on the Pentagon and the US government more generally. In the first rush of enthusiasm and support for Ukraine, Musk shipped a bunch of free Starlink devices to Ukraine and agreed to cover the cost of the service. Later when he cooled on Ukraine he started threatening to shut the service off if the Pentagon didn’t pick up the tab. That’s standard mercurial behavior from Musk. But of course the Pentagon and more broadly the US should be picking up the tab. Much as I loathe the person Musk has turned out to be, I remember thinking at the time, how can this even be a question? Of course they should pick up the tab. The idea that we’d leave it to the whim of someone like Musk to be covering the cost of mission-critical technology for an ally at war is crazy.
This was my thought at the time. That Musk's offer to blanket Ukraine with Starlink satellites and terminals was "free as in blackmail", especially if it bypassed (what would have surely been expedited) defense procurement processes that would have mandated their availability and security.
Now Musk has half the US government over a barrel, with no real way out until credible competitors to SpaceX emerge.