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.”
Speaker: Mina Erika Pollmann, Research Fellow, International Security Program
Pro-alliance leaders would rather form an alliance by persuasion than by coercion. Whether pro-alliance leaders have to escalate from persuading to coercing anti-alliance leaders to form an alliance depends on how strongly anti-alliance leaders are motivated to oppose the proposed alliance. There are three distinct reasons possible for why anti-alliance leaders would oppose a proposed alliance: entrapment concerns, provocation concerns, and relative capabilities. The cases examined in this seminar suggest that entrapment concerns and provocation concerns both motivate anti-alliance leaders, though entrapment concerns have a slightly stronger correlation with when pro-alliance leaders must escalate to coercion. There is a strong but non-linear relationship between strength of anti-alliance leaders' opposition and relative capabilities. Though the domestic politicking of alliance formation has been overlooked in the literature, studying the domestic politicking matters because alliances formed by coercion are more likely to be associated with greater domestic political instability and longer negotiations.
Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar: