Space, security and defense no longer disparate

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Space, security and defense no longer disparate

While some countries with accumulated space development experiences have already regarded them as a cornucopia of defense and security technology, we tend to disregard the technological dominance in coterminous periphery such as China and Japan, which might be a substantive threat someday. A conventional tension between South and North Korea on the Korean Peninsula would be substituted for a state-of-the-art technology race in a post-unification era. Should we fall short to keep abreast with those countries, strategic equipoise would abruptly be leaned toward somewhere unpredictable, not given a conspicuous foe (read: North Korea).

We need a well-trained policy practitioner and researcher as well as scientist. One with clairvoyant insight and disinterested appraisal of a development program who could help financial authorities to prioritize each project for a right direction in order. Given that we annually implement about $10 billion for defense budget programs, what science and technology policy stances we take could be a mirror to show how our descendants live.

Space, security, defense are not disparate anymore. An investment decision in one sector can trigger another as they are intertwined. So any advancement in one domain eludes to a promotion of de facto national interest as it is technologically and politically shoring up another. North Korean political prowess when it comes to a negotiation table has been derived from their ballistic missile program, allegedly claimed to peacefully develop space, most of which, again, is quite identical.

Now we have to ask whether we have a national scheme to encompass these seemingly different areas. Of course it’s not easy to draw a master plan as other etatisme (state socialism) nations do under liberal democracy, in which a government has to canvass the taxpayers’ opinion, hurdle every stratum of bureaucracy, and even make things happen with different organization structures in charge. But we should remember that sooner or later we can face embarrassing moments without meticulous mid-to-long term national strategy for science and technology in defense, space and security. I see cogent argumentation being heedful in fostering these areas respectively is not a sufficient condition anymore in the 21st century.

by Kim Sung-jin, Associate research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis (KIDA).
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