Competition Among States: Case Studies in the Political Role of Remote Sensing Capabilities
Competition Among States: Case Studies in the Political Role of Remote Sensing Capabilities Audrey Ann Ammons, Ph.D. Director: Wallace J. Thies, Ph.D. International politics is a competitive realm. One of the most powerful modern advantages in this competitive world is the ownership of independent and autonomous remote sensing satellites. Few have this venue for competition and those that do belong to a very exclusive groups of states. Kenneth Waltz, author of Theory of International Politics, theorized that states emulate the innovations, strategies and practices of those countries with the greatest capability and ingenuity. As Waltz explains, states will emulate the leader in an anarchic realm to attain the same capabilities that helped the hegemon attain or maintain its status. Waltz referred to this as a tendency toward sameness of the competitors. Modern-day states that pursue global preeminence often exhibit exceptional risk-taking and significant technological innovation. They also challenge the recognized hegemon in an area of expertise and leadership. Realists would say that these states are emulating the behavior of the states they view as successful in order to maintain or improve their position in the world order. Realists also point out that strategic interests lead states to try to gain or at least neutralize those areas that, if controlled by an adversary, could menace them. Realist writers suggest that states will be reluctant to cede control of an important new technology to another state, even a friendly one, lest they find themselves permanently disadvantaged in an on-going contest for wealth, influence and even preeminence. The purpose of this research is to investigate if remote sensing capabilities are a venue of competition among modern states and one that they view as a potential path to global preeminence. Why do some states expend scarce resources to develop and maintain an indigenous remote sensing capability when it appears that they can acquire much of the end product from other sources at a reasonable cost? If this is true, it should be possible to confirm that states acquire end-to-end remote sensing capabilities as a means to maintain or improve their position in the world order. These states are willing to devote significant resources in order to control this technology because they believe successful states have used remote sensing technology as a means to acquire and maintain their preeminent position. States that own and operate remote sensing capabilities must take considerable risks and apply technological innovation to succeed. Whether the technology is an historical example such as a sixteenth century ship or its modern equivalent--a twenty-first century satellite--the potential rewards are the same: military advantage, commercial markets, and global recognition.
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