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Taking sovereignty out of this world: space weapons and empire of the future



Programs to deploy weapons in orbital space have important implications for international relations. In this paper, we analyze the constitutive logic of three modes of space weaponization currently being pursued by the United States – space-based missile defense, space control, and force application from orbital space. We show that these technologies of killing, when bundled together, constitute a new form of centralized sovereign power in a context of de-territorialized sovereignty. This is a new type of international political society, which we call empire of the future, distinct from and more ominous than the de-centralized form of Empire theorized by Hardt and Negri and the modern expression of classical hegemony now widely debated in discussions of putative American empire.



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* We thank Tarak Barkawi, Michael Barnett, Daniel Deudney, Penny Griffin, Ayten Gündoğdu, Brian Job, Ronald Krebs, Richard Price, Aaron Rapport, Karthika Sasikumar, James Tully and the two anonymous referees for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. We presented this article at the annual meetings of the International Studies Association, San Diego, March, 2006, at the Centre of International Relations at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, November 2006, and at the Minnesota International Relations Colloquium at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, March 2007. We also thank the University of Minnesota’s Graduate Research Partnership Program and the Canadian Department of National Defence’s Security Defence Forum for providing financial support for the completion of this project. Research for this article was completed in 2007; as a result more recent events, such as the US spy satellite destruction, are not discussed.

Taking sovereignty out of this world: space weapons and empire of the future



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