In Destined for War, the eminent Harvard scholar Graham Allison explains why Thucydides’s Trap is the best lens for understanding U.S.-China relations in the twenty-first century. Through uncanny historical parallels and war scenarios, he shows how close we are to the unthinkable. Yet, stressing that war is not inevitable, Allison also reveals how clashing powers have kept the peace in the past — and what painful steps the United States and China must take to avoid disaster today.
Forty years ago, an interdisciplinary group of Harvard scholars – professors, researchers and practitioners – came together to tackle the greatest threat of the Cold War: the fear of a nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union and the United States. Today, we seek to recreate that interdisciplinary approach to tackle a new threat: the risk of conflict in cyberspace.
The problems that confront today’s leaders are substantial and diverse: how to protect a nation’s most critical infrastructure from cyber attack; how to organize, train, and equip a military force to prevail in the event of future conflict in cyberspace; how to deter nation-state and terrorist adversaries from conducting attacks in cyberspace; how to control escalation in the event of a conflict in cyberspace; and how to leverage legal and policy instruments to reduce the national attack surface without stifling innovation. These are just a sample of the motivating questions that drive our work.
The aim of the Belfer Center's Project on Conflict in Cyberspace is to become the premier home for rigorous and policy-relevant study of these and related questions. We will pursue this effort through three lines of effort:
- A fellows program comprised of traditional academics (pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students, as well as visiting researchers and faculty), as well as rotating representatives from government agencies and private-sector companies.
- A research agenda of policy-relevant scholarship that offers solutions to pressing national security challenges posed by developments in cybersecurity.
- A teaching curriculum to train tomorrow’s leaders with skills to make informed decisions about technology and cybersecurity throughout their careers in public policy.
To be successful, it will be imperative for our effort to convene experts and academics from a diverse set of backgrounds: no one discipline or skill set is sufficient to address the complexity and diversity of the challenges we face in cyberspace. To that end, we welcome the participation of technologists, journalists, programmers, members of the armed forces, psychologists, political scientists, business leaders, and more.