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.”
Open to Harvard faculty, students, and staff
The resurgence of Russian power and the spread of ISIL across the Middle East and North Africa presage the risk of conflict over the coming decade where the incentives for state and non-state actors to acquire nuclear, biological, chemical, and other weapons of mass destruction could grow more salient. Join us for a discussion about the global impact of technological developments and geopolitical trends on the future nature and role of WMD. How might emerging technologies and a changing global security environment shape future WMD capabilities and motivations? What are the prospects for the development of entirely new forms of WMD? And what should the United States do to anticipate future proliferation challenges?
Mr. Charles D. Lutes is the Director of the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Defense University in Washington, DC. He was previously a Senior Research Fellow at the Center before assuming his current duties.
Prior to joining the Center full time in 2013, Mr. Lutes served in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, where he was a senior advisor for Countering WMD and Acting Principal Director for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy. Mr. Lutes culminated his 28-year Air Force career as Director for Counterproliferation and Nonproliferation on the National Security Council Staff under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Mr. Lutes also served as Chief of Strategic Plans and later as WMD Division Chief in the J-5 directorate on the Joint Staff, and was a Senior Military Fellow at NDU’s Institute for National Strategic Studies. He was a career Air Force pilot with over 3,000 hours in the F-4, T-38, EC-135, KC-135 and C-5 aircraft.
Dr. W. Seth Carus is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Defense University. His research focuses on issues related to biological warfare, including threat assessment, biodefense, and the role of the Department of Defense in responding to biological agent use. He also studies allegations of biological agent use and has written a working paper, Bioterrorism and Biocrimes: The Illicit Use of Biological Agents in the 20th Century, and several articles on that subject. He has been at NDU since 1997. From 2003 to 2013 he also served as the Center’s Deputy Director.
From 2001 to 2003, Dr. Carus was detailed to the Office of the Vice President, where he was the Senior Advisor to the Vice President for Biodefense. Before assuming that position, he was on the staff of the National Preparedness Review commissioned to recommend changes in homeland security organization and supported the Office of Homeland Security while it was being established.