Cyberwar as a Confidence Game   [open pdf - 146KB]

From the article: "Is cyberwar the twenty-first-century version of nuclear war? Readers of the 'Economist', whose 3--9 July 2010 cover portrayed a digitized nuclear explosion in the midst of a city, could be forgiven for thinking so. The takeaway was obvious: cyber weapons are now the latest class of strategic weapons, they can do enormous damage to societies, and the first recourse against this threat should be some sort of arms control. Otherwise, the bad old days of strategic confrontation would be back, but this time with scores of countries and no small number of nonstate actors, transnational criminal organizations, and a few overindulged high school students having the requisite capability to build weaponry that can bring life as we know it to a prompt halt. Such a scenario could happen, but to see cyber weapons as primarily strategic in the same way as nuclear weapons is quite misleading. A more plausible strategic rationale for the United States' developing cyber weapons is to make 'other' states think twice about going down the road toward network-centric warfare as the United States is doing, thereby extending its lead in this area. Cyber weapons do so by making other states--already lacking confidence in their ability to handle high technology--doubt that their systems will work correctly when called on, particularly if used against the United States or its friends. This logic is explained in three parts, starting with a brief description of cyber attacks and their effects. Next, the case is made against assuming that cyberwar can be used for its strategic impact, followed by the case for thinking that the 'threat' of cyberwar might possibly shape the investment decisions of other states to the advantage of the United States."

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Air University: http://www.au.af.mil/au/
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Strategic Studies Quarterly (Spring 2011), v.5 no.1 p.132-146
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