Space Governance and International Cooperation

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Obama Administration officials have indicated that international cooperation will play a greater role in their national space policy than it did during the Bush administration. But they have not provided a clear and consistent logic specifying why the United States wants more space cooperation, what types of cooperation it will pursue, and how it will convince other countries to agree on, and comply with, accords that produce the desired policy results. Instead, their policy about space cooperation mixes elements from three different and somewhat contradictory strategic logics: a “Global Commons” logic, a “Strategic Stability” logic, and a “Space Governance for Global Security” logic. While each logic has attractive features, the Global Commons logic is unlikely to achieve significant results in a short period of time, while the Strategic Stability logic is more likely to promote competition, rather than cooperation. Following the Space Governance for Global Security logic could yield much larger dividends by using positive and negative forms of space cooperation to gain widespread support for the equitable rules and effective international institutions needed to address the central challenges identified by the 2010 National Security Strategy.