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 story of the origins of the Euro-American nuclear order helps scholars and policymakers to think about the interaction of technology, strategy, and diplomacy in the atomic age. This transatlantic nuclear history shows how nuclear deterrence and nuclear non-proliferation interact. U.S. to NATO nuclear sharing emerged in reaction to French-led efforts to develop European integration in the strategic nuclear field. The resulting European nuclear order of the late 1950s is still largely in place, but it increasingly faces political and strategic challenges. Russian geopolitical assertiveness, the Trump Presidency, and Brexit create pressures to reassess Euro-American nuclear relations.