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.”
In the North Korean nuclear crisis, there is a major difference between having leverage and having the ability to use it. China has the former, but not the latter. North Korea has both. If China is to stay above the deepening diplomatic quagmire, it will have to abandon its ad hoc approach to dealing with the crisis and adopt a Chinese-sponsored multilateral road map for negotiating North Korea's nuclear disarmament. The question remains whether Beijing will squander its dwindling diplomatic capital on further ad hoc efforts to bring North Korea back to an agenda-deficient table or start a new phase of road map-focused meetings.
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