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.”
The end of the Cold War left the United States in a remarkable position: It was far and away the world's most powerful country, and it was on good terms with most of the world's major powers. Despite these advantages, its foreign policy record since then is mostly one of disappointments and sometimes costly failures. These recurring follies are due in part to America's structural position in the international system, but they also reveal some recurring weaknesses in America's foreign policy establishment and its overall approach to foreign affairs.
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