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.”
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China and the U.S. appear destined for war in the next decade - according to Dr. Graham Allison, the Director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Dr. Allison will discuss this terrifying idea and how it might come to pass – and how it might be avoided - at a LAWAC breakfast on Monday, June 5th. According to Dr. Allison, the two world powers are stuck in a historical pattern which he named “The Thucydides Trap”, taken from the Greek historian Thucydides (460-395 BC), who said that the rise of Athens in the fifth century BC threatened the ruling power of Sparta to the point that war became “inevitable”. Dr. Allison and his team at Harvard point to 16 cases of a rising power threatening an established power in the past 500 years, and found that in 12 cases war ensued. With both Xi Jingping and President Trump promising to do whatever it takes to make their countries “great again”, the case for war is not just a possibility, it seems likely. However Allison also points out that enlightened statecraft avoided war in four of the 16 cases his team examined, and he will talk about the lessons learned in how to prevent armed confrontation between the US and China.
Founding dean of Harvard's modern John F. Kennedy School of Government and Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Graham Allison has for three decades been a leading analyst of U.S. national security and defense policy with a special interest in terrorism. He served as Special Advisor to the Secretary of Defense under President Reagan and as Assistant Secretary of Defense in the first Clinton Administration, during which Dr. Allison received the Defense Department's highest civilian award, the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, for "reshaping relations with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to reduce the former Soviet nuclear arsenal." This resulted in the safe return of more than 12,000 tactical nuclear weapons from the former Soviet republics and the complete elimination of more than 4,000 strategic nuclear warheads previously targeted at the U.S. and left in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus when the Soviet Union disappeared.
Please reserve no later than Thursday, June 1st.