Terrorism and Peacekeeping: New Security Challenges

By Volker C. Franke | Go to book overview

Chapter 12
Security and Salvation: Bringing
Russia Aboard the Space Station

W. HENRY LAMBRIGHT

As the Clinton administration took power in January and February 1993, national security officials became aware that the Russians were about to transfer rocket technology to India. It was a move fraught with missile proliferation peril. It appeared that the United States might well have to impose severe trade sanctions to head off or punish Russia for the action.

However, the new administration was also acutely conscious that the political situation in Russia was highly volatile and uncertain. Only recently, the Soviet Union had fallen and been replaced in part by a very shaky Russian regime. The Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, was seen by the United States as preferable to any likely alternative. President Clinton wanted to strengthen Yeltsin, not weaken him, and not start off their personal relationship with an affront. What could be done, he wanted to know, to change Russian behavior through positive incentives?

The answer that ultimately came involved the decision to bring Russia aboard the Space Station. This decision, made over the course of 1993, marked a turning point of historic significance for space policy. The Space Station was born in Cold War rivalry. Now it would be reoriented to symbolize post-Cold War cooperation. In both cases, the Space Station linked space and foreign policy, “big science,” and geopolitics. However, the foreign policy and geopolitical dynamics to which it was linked had changed enormously in but a few years. So had the Space Station. Originally expected to cost $8 billion, exclusive of launching costs, and be completed in a decade, the Space Station program was initiated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.1 In 1988, NASA enlisted Europe, Canada, and Japan as partners, and the station received a name, “Freedom.” Freedom, however, burgeoned by billions in cost, forcing a redesign to save money. Under

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