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.”
Since 1953, the United States has maintained a formal extended deterrence commitment to protect South Korea. The guarantee included a mutual security treaty that formalized the U.S. pledge and basing troops close to the border as a sign of U.S. determination to defend its ally from another attack from the North. The U.S. commitment also entailed the inclusion of South Korea under the U.S. nuclear umbrella whereby Washington vowed to use nuclear weapons to deter, and if need be, defeat an attack. The United States never renounced the first use of nuclear weapons so that a nuclear response could follow a conventional attack or a nuclear strike. For South Korea, the umbrella also included the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the peninsula. However, these weapons were removed from South Korea in 1991. The nuclear umbrella has long been a part of U.S. extended deterrence in East Asia, yet there have always been some troubling aspects of this strategy, both in Asia and in Europe. This talk will examine the history of the U.S. nuclear umbrella for South Korea, the role the umbrella plays in South Korean and U.S. security planning, and questions regarding the credibility of the commitment.
Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.