Space Deterrence Fails - Paperless Debate

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                                            Space Deterrence Fails
Space Deterrence Fails
Sheldon, 08 (John B. PhD. George Marshall Institute Fellow and Visiting Professor. “Space Power and
Deterrence: Are We Serious?” Marshall Institute Policy Outlook. November 2008. MJT)

Deterrence is the attempt to persuade an adversary by the threat of force (and other measures) not to pursue an undesirable course of
action. As a result, to be deterred is a state of mind, something that is not easily quantifiable for measuring success in attempts to
deter. Given that deterrence is essentially an exercise in psychological manipulation in order to modify,
or prevent, modes of behavior, it is fraught with uncertainty. Deterrence fails — and throughout
strategic history, has failed often — because the object of deterring measures fails to notice them, does
not find the measures credible, or is pursuing an agenda sufficiently important enough to its interests
that it is prepared to ignore the deterrence attempt. Because deterrence fails it has been much maligned
in recent times. The task of deterring apocalyptic terrorism and WMD-armed rogue states certainly
pose significant challenges for deterrence. Instead, preemptive and preventive force has been identified as a means of
dealing with these threats. The problem, as Colin S. Gray points out, is that the use of preemptive and preventive force
is similarly encumbered with uncertainty, and entails much risk of military failure and damaged
reputation. Similarly, diplomatic inducements — such as offers of arms control negotiations — are
equally uncertain in their prospect for success.2 The problem for U.S. policy makers immersed in
a distinctive American strategic culture is that whatever approach to security is adopted, it
carries a significant risk of failure. The military historian John Shy argues convincingly that American strategic
culture has become accustomed to a large degree of certainty in its security affairs, thanks in part to the unique geographical position
of the United States and a large measure of fortune.3 The United States is unique in enjoying this degree of certainty in its defense
arrangements. As a result, the inherent uncertainties of strategy continue to be a source of
profound discomfiture for an American strategic culture that strives for certainty beyond

Space Deterrence Unreliable
Morgan 10 (Forrest E. Correspondent for the RAND Corporation. “Deterrence and First-Strike
Stability in Space” RAND: Project Air Force. 2010. MJT)

                                                                                                          The punishment-
Threats of punishment for attacks on space systems face unique challenges in terms of potency and credibility.
based approach that most readily comes to mind for deterring attacks on U.S. satellites entails
threats of retribution against the opponent’s satellites—the old “if you shoot ours, we’ll shoot yours”
model. Such a threat sounds reasonable and balanced; however, given the disproportionate degree to which U.S. forces depend on
space support as compared to potential adversaries, it would probably lack sufficient potency to deter a serious
opponent. Future enemies of the United States will probably be fighting in their own neighborhoods and employing operational
concepts that rely less on space-based ISR and communication assets than do U.S. forces, so enemy leaders might even
welcome a game of satellite tit-for-tat, as the benefits of denying space support to U.S. forces would
likely outweigh the costs of losing their own assets in return.

Impossible to Deter in Space
Morgan 10 (Forrest E. Correspondent for the RAND Corporation. “Deterrence and First-Strike
Stability in Space” RAND: Project Air Force. 2010. MJT)

Efforts to deter would-be aggressors by persuading them that the United States can deny them the
benefits of attacking its space capabilities also face serious challenges. While the United States should always
emphasize the resilience of its space systems in order to discourage potential adversaries from attacking them, several factors may
make this difficult. First, it is necessary to assume that potential adversaries are well aware that the
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transformational capabilities that give U.S. military forces their qualitative advantage are significantly
enhanced by space support. They are likely to believe that attacking U.S. space systems offers a high payoff, because even limited
success in attacks on some high-value, low-density assets might provide substantial warfighting benefits. Second, future enemies
will also understand how difficult it is to defend space assets. Satellites possess inherent
vulnerabilities, and all claims to the contrary are unlikely to be believed until proven. That presents a
problem. There are passive defenses that the United States can employ to make satellites somewhat
more resilient, but unlike visible forces and fortifications in the terrestrial environment, passive
defenses on satellites are not observable in ways that deter attack. Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) shielding, radio
frequency (RF) filters, and shuttered optics are not visible to the naked eye or even observable in the data collected by space
surveillance systems. In fact, some defenses may need to be concealed in order to remain viable, thus
eliminating the deterrent value of their existence. Consequently, the challenge will be to find ways to reduce the
prospective benefits of attacking U.S. space systems that are demonstrable to potential enemies without undermining their

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