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 first tenet of the DETS program focuses on defense policy issues, ranging from the future of European security architectures to strategies for developing plans and capabilities to defend Taiwan.
The program also focuses on new technologies that have emerged as pivotal to the future of international security. Advances in space, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, digital currencies, and synthetic biology bring complex risks. The need for a new generation of technology-savvy policy, strategy, and leadership in these areas is evident.
Finally, the program seeks to improve public sector strategy execution of security initiatives in the international arena. Too often, well-conceived strategies –particularly those related to technology– fail because of poor implementation. The program seeks to bolster the research into and practice of successful public sector strategy execution.
The 3 focus areas of the program each come with their own unique set of issues and questions:
- NATO: What is the alliance's future in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
- Defense of Taiwan: How can the international community use emerging technologies to defend the security and viability of Taiwan?
- AI and Autonomous Decision-making: How will AI and autonomous systems impact the future of international security strategy?
- Space: How can the international community develop commercial capabilities, economic opportunities, and security frameworks that promote stability in space?
- Biosecurity: How can the international community grow a thriving, sustainable bioeconomy by establishing a solid foundation of biosecurity?
- Crypto, digital currencies and cyber risk: How do the opportunities and risks offered by digital currencies impact international security?
- Security Strategy Implementation: How can nations most effectively implement the broad goals of national security strategies, particularly in the United States and Germany?
- Capability Integration: How can public sector organizations best acquire and implement emerging technologies in a way that advances their overall security strategies?
1. Advancing Policy-Relevant Research
The Belfer Center distinguishes itself from DC think tanks by providing policymakers with recommendations based on new data-driven analysis. This practice informs the program’s research products, which will always be focused on actionable and multidisciplinary recommendations to solve thorny global and security challenges.
2. Providing Advanced Training
By providing in-residence training opportunities, such as the National Security Fellows program, DETS prepares the next generation of senior civilian and military leaders. Additionally, the Program places an emphasis on professional development opportunities for Kennedy School students by working with student groups to sponsor conferences, lead research initiatives, and discussions, as well as co-create career programming.