The Evolution of Cyber War: International Norms for Emerging-Technology Weapons

The Evolution of Cyber War: International Norms for Emerging-Technology Weapons

The Evolution of Cyber War: International Norms for Emerging-Technology Weapons

The Evolution of Cyber War: International Norms for Emerging-Technology Weapons

Synopsis

Former secretary of defense Leon Panetta once described cyber warfare as "the most serious threat in the twenty-first century," capable of destroying our entire infrastructure and crippling the nation.

Already, major cyber attacks have affected countries around the world: Estonia in 2007, Georgia in 2008, Iran in 2010, and most recently the United States. As with other methods of war, cyber technology can be used not only against military forces and facilities but also against civilian targets. Information technology has enabled a new method of warfare that is proving extremely difficult to combat, let alone defeat.

And yet cyber warfare is still in its infancy, with innumerable possibilities and contingencies for how such conflicts may play out in the coming decades. Brian M. Mazanec examines the worldwide development of constraining norms for cyber war and predicts how those norms will unfold in the future. Employing case studies of other emerging-technology weapons--chemical and biological, strategic bombing, and nuclear weaponry--Mazanec expands previous understandings of norm-evolution theory, offering recommendations for U.S. policymakers and citizens alike as they grapple with the reality of cyber terrorism in our own backyard.

Excerpt

In the conclusion of his book The History of a Crime, Victor Hugo wrote, “One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.” This statement, made in reference to the ideals of the French Revolution, alludes to the fact that ideas, when spread, can grow, shape, and dominate. One category of ideas is known as norms, which are shared expectations of appropriate behavior. Norms exist at various levels and apply to different actors. In the international arena, these nonbinding shared expectations can, to some degree, constrain and regulate the behavior of international actors and, in that sense, have a structural impact on the international system as a whole. For example, early in the age of nuclear weapons, Lt. Gen. James Gavin expressed the contemporary wisdom when he wrote, “Nuclear weapons will become conventional for several reasons, among them cost, effectiveness against enemy weapons, and ease of handling.” However, as the nuclear era advanced, a constraining norm developed that made states reluctant to possess or use nuclear weapons. Views similar to those held by Gavin and others at the dawn of the nuclear era regarding military utility and inevitable employment also existed with strategic bombing at the advent of the ability to conduct aerial bombing of civilians during . . .

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