Space as a Tool

While I am no expert in international relations, I know good systems thinking when I see it. Look at the success of Apollo. Experts in international affairs need to find ways to use space; but they should use space in part as a way of thinking outside their own toolbox.

In other words, we need to apply systems thinking, using space as a tool for improving our international standing in various parts of the world. A systems theorist will tell you that the function of a system is what it does, not what it’s advertised as doing. A mission statement or national anthem, or even a Constitution, may not determine a nation’s function. The function is what it actually does. Think: What does America actually do? America provides the most opportunity for the most people, while propping up the world’s economy. Those are its functions.

Now let’s look systematically at how America influences the world. How can the system work better? These functions are much easier when we are the most admired country in the world—or at least the country that makes other countries the most jealous. Every nation, if asked who was number one, would—if they gave an honest answer—say America. It’s the most powerful, dominant country in the world. They don’t measure GDP or happiness or even transit systems. They look at power and influence, and we’re number one. If that indeed is our function—to exert power and influence—then we need to look at the inflection points in the American system. What is the cheapest, most effective way to increase our power and influence? Our greatest influence comes through inspiration rather than coercion. If we look at our system functionally, systematically, unpoetically, we can make the case for space.

Inspiration is a part of that influence. Every marketer will tell you that. Sugar water is sold around the world for billions of dollars because of that kind of great storytelling. Don’t discount the value of inspiration.

Think of space as attractive real estate. Imagine if we invited other countries to participate in mining asteroids, and colonizing Mars, and sharing in discoveries, and sharing in the riches that come from those discoveries. On the other hand, what if we provided young people in troubled countries with an attractive alternative to the dead-end tribal, violent belief systems they get from ISIS?