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Space Sustainability and US Cyberwar Strategic Doctrine

While the 1967 Outer Space Treaty banned the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in outer space, it did not prohibit other military systems or civilian/commercial dual-use technologies from earth's orbital realm. The dependence of air-land-sea strategic and tactical military systems on orbital assets now facing significant risks from space debris is prompting a re-assessment of strategic-theoretical frameworks analyzing how military use of the outer space realm affects overall configurations of global power. This applies especially to the United States as the world's leading space and strategic power. With the Reagan Administration's 1983 Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) policy pivot, ostensibly from deterrence to defense, space indeed became the "high ground" for U.S. strategic doctrine. Over the ensuing three decades, regulatory, technological and strategic-sustainability doctrinal shifts have intensified the integration of space into what has evolved as U.S. cyberwar strategic doctrine. Paradoxically, from a governance perspective, that cyberwar strategic doctrine is compelled to incorporate elements of environmental sustainability as space debris poses a growing existential threat to U.S. space assets throughout expanding orbital regions. As a consequence, the EU's proposed Code of Conduct intended to mitigate the space debris risk has become a governance mechanism of high strategic significance and controversy with ramifications for governance regimes. An extensive body of research identifies three sets of distinct but inter-meshed factors for evolving the outer space and cyberspace realms away from the conventional UN-oriented regime and towards a more ad hoc governance arrangement dominated by the major technological-scientific powers: (1) technological and regulatory trends, (2) shifts in strategic doctrine, and (3) sustainability issues associated with utilization of the outer space and cyberspace. Amplifying the space power thesis, this paper outlines how these three factor sets are inter-meshing into an outer space-cyberwar "high ground" strategic domain.
Martinez, Larry
2012 Meeting of the Western Political Science Association Portland, OR
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