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Escalation Dynamics in Cyberspace

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  • 2023

  • Engelsk

To what extent do cyberspace operations increase the risks of escalation between nation-state rivals? Scholars and practitioners have been concerned about cyber escalation for decades, but the question remains hotly debated. The issue is increasingly important for international politics as more states develop and employ offensive cyber capabilities, and as the international system is increasingly characterized by emergent multipolarity. In Escalation Dynamics in Cyberspace, Erica D. Lonergan and Shawn W. Lonergan tackle this question head-on, presenting a comprehensive theory that explains the conditions under which cyber operations may lead to escalation. In doing so, they challenge long-held assumptions about strategic interactions in cyberspace, arguing that cyberspace is not as dangerous as the conventional wisdom might suggest. In some cases, cyber operations could even facilitate the de-escalation of international crises. To support their claims, Lonergan and Lonergan test their theory against a range of in-depth case studies, including strategic interactions between the United States and key rivals; a series of case studies of the role of cyber operations in international crises; and plausible future scenarios involving cyber operations during conflict. They then apply their analytical insights to policymaking, making the case that skepticism is warranted about the overall efficacy of employing cyber power for strategic ends. By exploring the role of cyber operations in routine competition, crises, and warfighting, Escalation Dynamics in Cyberspace presents nuanced insights about how cyberspace affects international politics.

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