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Space and Missile Wars: What Awaits


David Bernstein Libri


Sometimes, slow, steady changes produce revolutionary results. A case in point is missile and space technologies. Long-range missiles, satellites, and space launch vehicles used to be high technology exclusive to the superpowers. Now, scores of states have both. As for ballistic missiles and drones, even non-state actors have them, and these systems are far more accurate than anything the superpowers had even at the height of the Cold War. Then, long-range missiles could only be certain of destroying their targets if they were nuclear-armed and wiped out areas as large as cities. Now, drones are so accurate they can pinpoint and kill single individuals. As for space satellite launchers, they originally were derived from nuclear delivery missiles. None were privately owned. Similarly, almost all space satellites were government property and, until 1965, the owners were only American and Soviet. Now, the French, Chinese, Japanese, British, Indians, Israelis, Ukrainians, Iranians, and North Koreans have all launched satellites of their own. In addition, more than 60 nations own and operate their own satellites and increasingly, satellites are launched, owned, and operated entirely by private entities. These developments are nontrivial. They will define the military competitions with China, Russia, and other hostile states for the next two to three decades. Will the spread of accurate missiles embolden weak actors ? small states and terrorist organizations ? to threaten stronger states with missile attacks against key civilian targets (dams, reactors, petrochemical plants)? Will weak actors be tempted to use accurate drones to assassinate their adversaries? key leaders? Will such attacks catalyze war, producing modern Sarajevos that draw in nuclear-armed states (e.g. Israel, Pakistan, India, North Korea, or the superpowers)? With so many new space actors, will anyone be able to attribute hostile actions in space? Will states attack satellites mostly in low Earth orbit or geosynchronous orbit? Will the most important attacks come from antisatellite systems based on Earth, in low Earth orbit, or on or near the moon? This volume is designed to answer these questions. It is divided into two sections. The first focuses on space; the second on missiles. Peter Garretson?s first chapter projects what war in space might look like one to two decades from now. Brian Chow?s second chapter considers how private space firms? desire to avoid satellite collisions (and the loss of their satellites) might encourage adherence to space rules of the road that the world?s civil, commercial, and military space sectors might follow. Xavier Pasco?s third chapter details French space policies which include the world?s clearest articulation of why space keep-out zones will be necessary and how they might best be enforced. The last space-focused chapter is the winning US collegiate national debate submission on space warning zones as a diplomatic approach to dealing with the rendezvous satellite threat. The balance of the volume is focused on missiles and drones, how they might be used and controlled. The first of these chapters, Henry Sokolski?s, is on the future of missile and drone warfare. The second, David Cooper?s, is on why missile controls are both needed and unlikely. Finally, the third, John Maurer?s, is a guide to how one might coordinate increased missile competitions with controls. More, of course, could and will be written. This volume, however, is a start.
 
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