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.”
Through the speaker series, seminars, and research, the Defense Project aims to highlight the dynamics of the relationship between civilian leaders and the uniformed military in the US defense establishment and increasing understanding between the two sets of actors. The project conducts classes, discussions, simulations, and other activities to familiarize students and researchers with the theories of civil-military relations as well as examples from history, to better prepare students and researchers, some of whom will one day take leadership positions in the defense agencies. Civilian and uniformed speakers provide examples from their own experience of the ins and outs of civilian-military relations.
Future initiatives will seize upon important work done in the Intelligence Project and work to improve relations between the US military and Russian and Chinese militaries. The Kennedy School, and in particular the Belfer Center, have a successful record of supporting US-Russian military relations over the years. The Kennedy School has hosted an annual meeting of US and Russian general officers since the end of the Cold War, facilitating better understanding and trust. In addition the Belfer Center’s Elbe Group brings together a unique subset of military counterparts: retired senior officers of the military and intelligence services from both countries. Similar Track II talks with China will prove fruitful.