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.”
Wedge strategies can be used defensively to weaken threatening coalitions, or offensively to isolate targets before coercing or conquering them. Either way, when they work, wedge strategies can yield considerable benefits to states that use them. By the same token, wedge strategy failures contribute to the major offensive and defensive pathologies of power politics — self-encirclement and under-balancing. So it is important to understand why states may sometimes miss chances to employ the wedge option, or fail when they do try to employ it (make bad bets). The paper presented will lay out a number of generalizations concerning (1) why leaders may consciously decide not to pursue wedge strategies when opportunities to use them beckon; (2) how wedge strategies can backfire when they are attempted; and (3) the extent to which anticipation of bad bets can lead to missed chances.
Please join us! Coffee and tea provided.
Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come – first served basis.