Date of Award

Summer 2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Kurt Taylor Gaubatz

Committee Member

Regina Karp

Committee Member

Robert L. Ash


The 20th century brought the most horrific weapons and most devastating wars in the history of human civilization. It also gave us the most breathtaking discoveries and technological breakthroughs, including the opening up of outer space to human reach. The commercialization of outer space is one of the most significant developments of our time, giving us an opportunity to put the richness of this medium to the betterment of human conditions on Earth on an increasingly widening scale.

Technological advances have also made space more important militarily. A puzzle now is whether the commercialization of outer space facilitates international cooperation in the security realm or makes interstate relations more competitive in the fourth medium. This study tries to address the issue of outer space security by placing it within the realist-liberal debate on economic interdependence and international conflict and cooperation. It shows that as the post-Cold War transition era drew to its close, security interests of the United States, on the one hand, and Russia and China, on the other, continued to diverge with regard to space security. The sole international intergovernmental organization charged with the negotiations on space security issues failed to bridge the differences and bring about compromises among the major space players. As a result, a new space security regime regulating expanding military uses of space has not emerged.

Liberal expectations fail on two important accounts. Firstly, the cost-benefit analysis that lies in the heart of the argument of liberal pacification consists of the costs of fighting a war as well as the opportunity costs of war and the former has not necessarily increased with technological progress and, even with greater commercialization of outer space, the latter may not necessarily offset the trend in the former. Secondly, the liberal expectation that expanding commercial relations between states would gradually lead to progressive de-legitimization of the use force has so far failed to materialize with respect to outer space.


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