The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Tamir Pardo served as Director of Israel’s Mossad from 2011-2016. Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Tamir served in the IDF in the special forces unit (Sayeret Matkal) and participated in the famous Operation Entebbe of 1976. He joined the Mossad in 1980 and rose through the ranks as technical and operations officer. Tamir then commanded its special operations division before serving two stints as Deputy Director (2002 and 2007—2009). Tamir led Mossad during a period of dramatic changes in the Middle East, taking command two weeks before the ousting of Tunisia’s president and the start of Arab Spring. During his term as Director contended with the resulting regional upheavals, Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. He also maintained unprecedented intelligence cooperation with the United States despite turbulence in political relations between the two countries, and for increasing Mossad’s capabilities in the cyber domain.