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.”
This presentation asks why states without nuclear weapons fight opponents with nuclear weapons. The presentation critically examines the claim that states believe opponents will not use nuclear weapons in conflict. It argues instead that two conditions make war more likely. First, when there is a direct threat to core security interests. Second, when the non-nuclear state believes an outside actor can help restrain nuclear use in the upcoming conflict. An examination of three cases—Soviet behavior during the early Cold War, the Chinese decision to enter the Korean War, and the Iraqi decision to resist the United States in 1991—provides support for these claims.
Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.