An Independent Policy Forum held on 3/7/08. Peter L. Hays, Associate Director of the Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies, and Theresa Hitchens, Director of the Center for Defense Information, discuss the implications that the U.S. takedown of a malfunctioning satellite have for a potential arms race in space.
Did the United States test an anti-satellite weapon when it shot down an out-of-control spy satellite earlier this month? Or was it a precautionary measure to protect people on the ground who might have been hit with a fuel tank filled with a poisonous gas?
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty designated space for peaceful purposes as the province of all mankind. Virtually all spacefaring nations now favor a new treaty to accommodate major changes in geopolitics and military technology. The United States, however, has blocked negotiations, citing potential threats to U.S. rights, capabilities, and freedom of action.
From ancient times to the present, politicians, bureaucrats, and interest groups have gained resources and control over the public by playing to peoples fears of various crises and by offering solutions that often only make problems worse.
For more than a century U.S. foreign policywhether conducted by Democrats or Republicanshas been based on the assumption that Americans interests are served best by intervening abroad to secure markets, fight potential enemies far from American shores, or engage in democratic nation building. But, what is the record of such policies, including now in Iraq?
What if North Korea and Iran become nuclear states? If the United States must live with a nuclear Iran and North Korea, what policies should it adopt? Furthermore, could the U.S. change its foreign policy to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation to even more countries?