China, Space Weapons, and U.S. Security

Author: Bruce W. MacDonald

China, Space Weapons, and U.S. Security - china-space-weapons-and-us-security
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Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date September 2008

Price $10.00 paper

60 pages
ISBN 978-0-87609-406-8
Council Special Report No. 38

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Overview

China’s successful test of an anti-satellite weapon in 2007, followed by the U.S. destruction earlier this year of an out-of-control U.S. satellite, demonstrated that space may soon no longer remain a relative sanctuary from military conflict. As the United States, China, and others increasingly benefit from the information that military and intelligence satellites provide, the temptation to attack these satellites provides troubling potential for instability and conflict in space that could dramatically affect U.S. military capabilities on earth.

In this Council Special Report, Bruce W. MacDonald illuminates the strategic landscape of this new military space competition and highlights the dangers and opportunities the United States confronts in the space arena. He recognizes that advancing technology has likely made some degree of offensive space capability inevitable but calls on the United States to draw upon all instruments of U.S. power, including a reinvigorated space diplomacy, to lead in establishing a more stable and secure space environment. To this end, he spotlights a series of pragmatic policy, programmatic, and diplomatic steps the United States should take to strengthen its security interests in space and help reduce the chances that the military benefits of space will be cut off when the United States may most need them. In addition, these steps would serve important U.S. and Chinese economic interests and open new channels of communication and understanding between the mid-twenty-first century’s likely two leading powers. This timely report breaks new ground in thinking about the space dimension of U.S. security interests and its growing effect on U.S. security in the twenty-first century, and will be especially useful to those who are unfamiliar with the role of space in U.S. security.

More About This Publication

Bruce W. MacDonald is an independent consultant in technology and national security policy management. From 1995 to 1999, he was assistant director for national security at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as well as senior director for science and technology on the National Security Council staff. Earlier, Mr. MacDonald was a professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee and was defense and foreign policy adviser to Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AK). He also worked for the State Department as a nuclear weapons and technology specialist in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, where he led the Interagency START Policy Working Group, served on the U.S. START delegation in Geneva, and dealt with space and missile defense issues. He also supported the OSD SALT Task Force as staff scientist at System Planning Corporation. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior director of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. Mr. MacDonald holds a BSE from Princeton in aerospace engineering and two master’s degrees, also from Princeton—one in aerospace engineering, specializing in rocket propulsion, and a second in public and international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School. He has authored a number of technical and policy papers and reports.

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Audio

China, Space Weapons, and U.S. Security (Audio)

Speaker: Bruce W. MacDonald
Introductory Speaker: Charles D. Ferguson
Presider: Thomas Behling

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