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Elements of a 21st Century Space Policy

Author: Peter A. Garretson, International Affairs Fellow in India
August 3, 2009
The Space Review

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While policy is a necessary enabling framework to communicate restrictions and freedom of action to internal audiences, it is also a powerful external communication to our friends and allies. Whether rightly or wrongly, as a result of what the world perceived the larger unstated intentions of our last President, or the greater context of the perceived unilateralism of the period, the tone of the 2006 space policy was taken and received in such a way that it cost America in influence and freedom of action, and put us on the defensive.

The first criteria of any new space policy is that it must be read by our allies and partners as measured, consultative, and inclusive, and provides no wedge for our adversaries to diminish the moral bonds with those partners and the uncommitted.

Every phrase should be guided by the advice of Parag Khanna: "First, channel your inner JFK. You are president, not emperor. You are commander in chief and also diplomat in chief. Your grand strategy is a global strategy, yet you must never use the phrase ‘American national interest.' (It is assumed.) Instead talk about ‘global interests' and how closely aligned American policies are with those interests. No more ‘us' versus ‘them,' only ‘we.' That means no more talk of advancing ‘American values' either. What is worth having is universal first and American second."

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