Outer space became a fascinating new frontier for international cooperation and conflict in the twentieth century. Recognizing the potential hazards of competition in this region, norm entrepreneurs including governments and intergovernmental organizations helped establish a normative architecture for space in the 1960s. The 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space (the Outer Space Treaty, or OST) called for peaceful uses and universal access to space, and it became the cornerstone of the space norm. Subsequent agreements linked space activities to international law and the UN Charter, forbidding claims of sovereignty over celestial objects and banning the introduction of weapons of mass destruction into space. States agreed that spacefaring should be undertaken in the interest of peace, security, and prosperity for all. However, the complex weaving of rules and treaties that constituted the outer space norm began to fray by the 1980s, with conflicts arising over interpretation of the norm as well as proposals to strengthen it. For example, some diplomats in the United Nations First Committee proposed a new agreement on Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS), with the goal of issuing specific guidelines to prevent the weaponization of space in any form. Entrepreneurial initiatives intensified in the 2000s with Russian and Chinese efforts in the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) to advance a treaty banning deployment of any kinds of weapons in space (Hitchens 2008; David 2003; Carter 1986; Nye and Schear 1987). Other actors also supported these efforts, including major multinational telecommunications companies and an epistemic community of nongovernmental organizations and industry-and university-based scientists (Tannenwald 2004). However, the George W. Bush administration strongly opposed calls for a fundamental change in the existing normative architecture for space. U.S. delegates employed rhetorical devices and strategic voting in international institutions to oppose changes. As the world’s leader in scientific innovations in space weapons and space-based platforms for military and reconnaissance tasks, the United States skillfully practiced diplomacy and used its opposition and inertia to frustrate international efforts to advance the norm. Constructivist international relations theory offers a valuable foundation for analyzing global governance efforts for outer space. First-generation constructivist theorists argued that international norms represented comprehensive
foundations for cooperation and that state identities and interests are “socially constructed by knowledgeable practice” (Finnemore 1996, 22; Wendt 1992, 392). In 1995, Wendt described the emergence of social structures as, “shared understandings, expectations, or knowledge . . . [which] constitute the actors in a situation and the nature of their relationships, whether cooperative or conflictual” (Wendt 1995, 73-74). However, second-generation critical constructivism identifies a key role for policymakers in contestation and ongoing debates about norm validity and application that may be essential for their own legitimacy (Wiener 2014; Capie 2013; Acharya 2011). For example Bloomfield and Scott, in the introductory chapter to this volume, define norm antipreneurs as “actors who resist norm entrepreneurs . . . [and] defend status quo norms that arguably gives them significant strategic and tactical advantages in all, or at least most, international issue-areas” (2016, 2-3). This study builds on critical constructivism to argue that the optimism of earlier scholarship belies the many complexities of the politics of outer space, as well as the potential for competition, weaponization, and even conflict in this arena. The chapter outlines the historical struggle over a normative architecture for space and identifies key players engaged in contestation. It focuses primarily on a single state actor, the United States, as the primary antipreneur. It is characterized as a crucial actor in this normative issue-area because it enjoys advantages inherent in the status quo space norm, but also has demonstrated its willingness to leverage its position as a powerful actor and a global leader in space technology. The singular focus on U.S. antipreneurship allows greater scrutiny of strategies of resistance to international norm change and their development and implementation over time.