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Nuclear Deterrence in Cyber-ia: Challenges and Controversies

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Journal Article

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Penn State Brandywine Media United States

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The information age has arrived, including in military affairs, but theory and policy related to nuclear deterrence are racing to keep up with a cyber-driven world. Future military conflicts, including those involving the exercise of nuclear deterrence and crisis management, will include a digital aspect. Information or cyber warfare is here although it is not the driver of every conflict. It exists in the foreground of any attacks against the enemys brain and central nervous system of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance C4ISR. On the other hand, far too often nuclear deterrence and cyber warfare issues are treated as separate and distinct challenges. This cyber-nuclear separatism is understandable as a matter of division of labor among experts, but it casts a shadow over the reality of nuclear deterrence or crisis management under cyber-intensive conditions. This article first examines some of the broader theoretical implications of the nuclear-cyber nexus for students of national security policy and warfare. Second, it focuses specifically on American and Russian strategic nuclear deterrence and arms control as policy-related settings for nuclear and cyber relationships. Third, it analyzes how the combination of nuclear and cyber attacks might at least hypothetically affect the stability of nuclear deterrence. Finally, the article draws pertinent conclusions about the nuclear-cyber interface insofar as it might pertain to future arms control, nonproliferation, and deterrence.

Subject Categories:

  • Nuclear Warfare
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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