War and Peace in Outer Space Law, Policy, and Ethics, Edited by Cassandra Steer and Matthew Hersch; Oxford University Press; 334 Pages; January 2021; Hardcover: $99.00.

This impressive and highly readable book pulls together essays from a cavalcade of creative thinkers to take on not only space security and military prowess, but also the ethical, legal and illegal issues regarding the weaponization of outer space.

The co-editors are Cassandra Steer, a lecturer at the Australian National University (ANU) College of Law, specializing in space law and space security and Matthew Hersch, an associate professor of the History of Science at Harvard University specializing in the history of aerospace technology.

Hersch and Steer divide this volume into four parts: The Law of War and Peace in Space; The Ethics of Space Security; Current and Future Threats to Space Security; and (last but not least) Toward Stability. This book is part of the Oxford Series in Ethics, National Security, and the Rule of Law.

The essays are written by informed specialists, including independent legal and policy experts, a senior scientist, researchers and writers, professors – and a philosopher for good measure! All in all, this is a well-crafted book on military uses of outer that taps space interdisciplinary expertise, not only from the United States, but Canada and Europe.

“The reader should find plenty of content to stimulate inquiry, gain understanding, challenge personal preconceptions, test the ideas of others, and sharpen their own thinking on the subject matter,” explains now U.S. Space Force General, David Thompson in the book’s foreword. Indeed, the reader will find this statement solidly delivered via the various essays.

As Steer and Hersch note/warn in the introduction, yet another “critical moment” has arrived, due to a “discernible shift” in international rhetoric toward a more offensive approach to defense in space.

“A central theme in all of the chapters is that the best way to avoid capricious use of the space environment in wartime is to create an explicit set of norms in peacetime, recognizing that shared use, rather than dominance, is the preferred outcome for all spacefaring nations,” Hersch and Steer explain.

That said…this book also serves as a moving yardstick of where humankind now finds itself in the evolving use of outer space for military purposes. How we gauge actions of today with the reality of where spacefaring nations will find themselves a decade from now is a troublesome TBD.

For more information on this book, go to:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/war-and-peace-in-outer-space-9780197548684?q=steer&lang=en&cc=us

Also, go to this virtual book launch event staged by the Secure World Foundation, a “War and Peace in Outer Space” roundtable on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 6pm eastern time. Register for this free virtual meeting at:

https://swfound.org/events/2021/roundtable-on-war-and-peace-in-outer-space

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