The Obama administration will seek a treaty “banning” space weapons. [h/t Instapundit] That’s really great except such a “ban” will have no other effect than to disarm America and other liberal democracies while leaving hostile authoritarian governments in control of space.
We have internal checks and balances which enforce the treaties we sign. Authoritarian states have no such checks and balances. Authoritarian states always create internal mythologies in which liberal democracies are duplicitous villains. They expect us to cheat on any treaty so they cheat as well.
No arms-control treaty between liberal democracies and authoritarian states has ever worked unless the authoritarian state lacked the physical ability to break the treaty. The canonical example would be the 1973 Biological Weapons “ban” between America and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union began violating the treaty immediately and developed a massive biological weapons capability that America could not match.
Space weapons are doubly problematic because you can’t look at a satellite from a distance, or even up close, and tell if it has offensive capabilities. Any satellite that can maneuver, which is all of them, can turn itself into a bullet that can obliterate any other satellite by ramming. You can’t even tell when a weapon is being tested. A satellite will simply fail or explode into debris and you can’t tell whether it was destroyed intentionally or just suffered an internal failure or hit a piece of space junk.
These realities make any space weapons “ban” completely unenforceable save by the internal mechanisms of the signatory states. In practice, that means any treaty will only prevent the development and deployment of weapons by liberal democracies.
Obama and other supporters of these types of treaties are a strange group of people who are deeply paranoid about the shenanigans inside the military-industrial complexes of liberal democracies but who are completely trusting of the military-industrial-dictator complexes of authoritarian regimes.