Hegemony over the heavens: the Chinese and American struggle in space
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AbstractChina's rise has generated awe and fear-awe over the pace of its economic transformation; fear about how that power will be exercised. The rise of a new great power always reshapes the structure of any international system, though turbulence and warfare is as much produced by the actions of declining states. Over the next generation, the world system will be shaped by the dynamics of interaction between Washington and Beijing. The actions of each state will affect the response of the other, and each will act according to the logic of its strategic culture. The transformation from a unipolar to multipolar world is underway. Americans are anxious about that. In an atmosphere of fear and frustration, voters are likely to reward pledges to stem the slide in American power, even though such actions may unnecessarily heighten global tensions and exacerbate the decline they were intended to halt. One controversial proposal seeks to perpetuate American dominance by preemptively moving to control space. Advocates argue it will preserve American security and end war as we know it, ushering in unmatched global stability and fostering the spread of democracy and liberal institutions. What these advocates frequently marginalize are the staggering costs-economic and political-associated with such a preemptive move. Calls for unilateral action before American primacy in space is seriously challenged assume the placement of weapons in space is inevitable. Ultimately, they may be proven correct; however, a movement in that direction in the near term will likely have several negative consequences which may include a space arms race. Ironically, the greatest threat to U.S. security may be American impulsiveness. Facing an unknown but complex future, the United States may fall prey to worst-case scenario thinking and compromise, rather than improve, global stability. When China demonstrated its anti-satellite capability in 2007, it was not a direct challenge to American space power. Instead, Beijing was challenging the stated American policy goal of wanting to dominate space by military means. How the United States chooses to respond to this latter, more specific, challenge remains to be seen.
Bibliography: p. 303-349