About Power & PolicyPower & Policy is a virtual forum for explaining and debating the exercise of American power in the world. The core participants are renowned Harvard Kennedy School faculty members and associates who have spent decades studying how power works.
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Tag Archives: cyber
By Richard Clarke Faculty Affiliate, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs We once discussed thermonuclear war strategy in the public forum. Numbers and types of nuclear weapons were the grist for Cambridge seminars. Because of that open process, we … Continue reading
By Joseph S. Nye The Pentagon recently released a new doctrine for cyberspace. It is an intelligent document that stresses defense, and reserves the right to reply to a cyber attack by the means of our choice. But for all … Continue reading
There has always been industrial espionage, and sometimes it has involved governments spying on behalf of their home industries. In the last decade, however, China has stretched that practice to the point where it threatens the international economic system. By harnessing … Continue reading
Last weekend, I chaired a panel at the Munich Security Conference on cyber security. This is the first time the venerable gathering has addressed the issue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed it, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague devoted nearly his whole speech to Britain’s new cyber strategy. Until recently, the issue of cyber security has largely been the domain of computer geeks and specialists. When the internet was created forty years ago, this small community was like a virtual village of people who knew each other, and they designed a system with little attention to security. Even the commercial Web is only two decades old. Security experts wrestling with cyber issues are at about the same stage in understanding the implications of this new technology as nuclear experts were in the early years after the first nuclear explosions.
In my new book, The Future of Power, I describe diffusion of power away from governments as one of the great power shifts in this century. Cyberspace is a perfect example of a broader trend. The largest powers are unlikely to be able to dominate this domain as much as they have others like sea, air or space. While they have greater resources, they also have greater vulnerabilities, and at this stage in the development of the technology, offense dominates defense in cyberspace. The United States, Russia, Britain, France, and China have greater capacity than other state and non-state actors, but it makes little sense to speak of dominance in cyber space. If anything, dependence on complex cyber systems for support of military and economic activities creates new vulnerabilities in large states that can be exploited by non-state actors.
In the late 19th century, American Admiral Alfred Mahan described the rise of sea power and its relationship to a nation’s global strength. In the early 20th century Italian General Giulio Douhet was first to develop theories about the essentiality … Continue reading
As authoritarian Arab regimes struggle with Twitter and Al Jazeera inflamed-demonstrations; Iran tries to cope with the cyber sabotage of its nuclear enrichment program; and American diplomats try to understand the impact of Wikileaks, it is clear that smart policy in an information age will need a more sophisticated understanding of power in world politics.
That is the argument of my new book The Future of Power. Two types of power shifts are occurring in this century – power transition and power diffusion. Power transition from one dominant state to another is a familiar historical event, but power diffusion is a more novel process. The problem for all states in today’s global information age is that more things are happening outside the control of even the most powerful states. In the words of Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations (and once a faculty member at the Kennedy School), “the proliferation of information is as much a cause of nonpolarity as is the proliferation of weaponry.”