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What would America do if we thought another country were about to place weapons in space? What would we do if China started building advanced anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons that could bring the international economy to a halt by crippling global communications and navigation systems? What would we do if Russia announced plans to build tiny unmanned space bombers capable of striking earthly targets? What would we do if the country in question actually was capable of pulling it off?
We would condemn such plans and call on the international community to impose draconian economic and political sanctions until the policy was reversed. One can almost hear the next president telling the nation, "This violation of international law and custom, this threat to peace and freedom, this tyranny of the heavens, shall not stand."
If efforts to stop the deployment of such weapons failed, the world would find itself in a new space race. And military dominance of space, rather than peaceful space exploration, would be the goal.
Several nations, including China, already have the potential to conduct limited military operations in space, as China demonstrated a year ago when it destroyed an aging Chinese weather satellite. But only the United States has the financial and technical capacity to develop a comprehensive space-dominance system. We could but we shouldn't.
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