«Workshop held 9-10 January 2008 in Arlington, VA Prepared for US Strategic Command Global Innovation and Strategy Center (USSTRATCOM/GISC) Prepared ...»
This new world of deterrence poised over globally interactive interconnectedness was the primary challenge faced by a remarkable group of experts from a variety of disciplines during a two-day workshop, held in Arlington, VA, 9-10 January 2008. The following report attempts to capture and synthesize the analyses and findings from the workshop. Their thoughts are synergized along with the thoughts of specially invited authors with varying backgrounds who contributed to both divergent but cogent perspectives.
The participants’ initial conclusions, while not unanimous, were often piquant but rooted in common sense and grounded in the new disciplines of network and connection theory. In short, their insights were ultimately sensible and intuitive for those who have grown up within the networked world.4 These insights should encourage and empower the United States “to combine the tools of intimidation with the tools of inspiration,” as former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre once put it. (Gates, 2008)
This two-day workshop, undertaken in response to a request from USAF Lt Gen Robert Elder, addressed deterrence of violent non-state actors (VNSA) in cyberspace. Participants ranged from active military to civilian, including contractors and academics with backgrounds in physics, political science, social science (including anthropology) and technology fields. The purpose of the workshop was to engage experts in a strategic multilayer assessment5 of The connotations of Web 2.0 and Science 2.0 follow the popular press ideas about the imminent next generations of interconnected and collaborative World Wide Webs and “networked Science” (as science author Mitch Waldrop labels it). The idea behind a concept of “Deterrence 2.0,” explained in detail throughout the report, also suggests that interaction, interconnectedness and collaboration may also apply to national policy concepts previously thought of as coercive, one-way, bilateral relationships. Such thinking may no longer be possible in the cyber world.
In fact, several of the participants felt that the Workshop should have also had a contingent of 15-19 year olds who have been practicing virtual deterrence (and collaboration) techniques in online games for much of their young adult lives!
See Chesser (2007) for a detailed description of the strategic multilayer assessment (SMA) program, and for background on the initial Strategic Deterrence report done as an SMA project.
Deterring VNSA in Cyberspace deterrence options in the 21st century that recognized an interconnected global threat environment for dealing with VNSA.
After an initial deliberation about the main purpose of the workshop, the attendees began to
debate their diverse positions on the two main questions of the workshop:
1) Is the US seeking to deter violent non-state actors from using the cyber world to recruit and plan attacks against the US and allies (including the ability to counter VNSA through offensive means)? Such an effort would seek to inhibit the formation of what Sageman calls a “Leaderless Jihad,” (2008) or…
2) Is the US at least as interested in maintaining a maximally open cyber environment and using freedom of access as a novel form of deterrence-producing capability (perhaps an equally relevant way to counter the “Leaderless Jihad”)?
While both thrusts may in the end be complementary, the answers to those questions shape the cyber environment as a deterrence medium, as they in fact shaped the debate throughout the workshop. Each approach requires a different starting point, and thus different strategies and resources, but potentially converges in ways only the cyber world can accommodate. As contributor James Fallows commented, “Any discussion of state- or non-state deterrence that doesn’t dwell on the potential of eliminating threats through co-opting them, or winning supporters, is missing a huge opportunity” (Fallows, 2008). Mr. Fallows also wrote the Foreword to this report.
Essential Participant Findings In considering the two main questions initially generated by the attendees, the workshop
discussions centered around four closely linked findings:
1) Deterrence of VNSA in the cyber context involves a broad range of actions, including dissuasion, exerting influence, co-opting, and establishing positive relations. Deterrence can be both direct and indirect. Indirect, such as exerting influence, is a viable means of more effective deterrence in the cyber age; leveraging connectivity in ways never before considered empowers dynamic flows of information and virtual relationship-building.
Sustainability, also an essential characteristic of deterrence, means that deterrence efforts may have lasting effects but yet require constant monitoring and adaptation. The networked world enhances these opportunities, often in what have been considered undirected, autocatalytic ways.
2) If someone is violently bent or fundamentally fixated, they may not be deterrable. However, exerting influence, especially indirectly on their support population or the populations to which they appeal, may still be possible. Fault lines exist on the radical side that a new generation of “network warriors” can explore and exploit. As an example, “embourgeoisement” of the Middle East, as workshop attendee Mike Vlahos labeled it, is an important development; the middle class traditionally seeks stability. Instead of solely focusing on deterring enemies in conventional cold-way methodologies, more enlightened approaches might look for allies among prominent academics, NGOs, media personalities, and cultural/tribal brokers (those that typically compose the middle class of any nation).
Deterring VNSA in Cyberspace Understanding the history, culture and perspectives of a potential ally or adversary takes time, but it makes influence feasible.
Network-savvy warriors and statesmen must also leverage and assist existing aid organizations. Providing NGOs with a communications infrastructure to better facilitate their efforts empowers them to be more connected to the people the US and our allies seek to influence (even through the most coercive forms of deterrence, when required). The promotion of an open cyber-based world is in fact a very meaningful deterrence strategy, according to several of the workshop members. While this may have originally seemed counter-intuitive to a large degree, free flow of information of all types helps people from diverse parts of the world discover for themselves the fruits of open and free exchange of knowledge. They must personally experience the freedom unrestricted flows of information provide to their families and societies and thus inculcate this process into their own way of life in ways that make the most sense for them. The US and West cannot force this discovery process, but can encourage and protect the ways in which it might happen.
3) The existing and emerging cyber-based world has created profound changes in communicating ideas and information. Wireless technology is being brought into remote areas, enabling telephone and Internet access, speeding up formation of relatively dispersed communities, and allowing airing of new ideas. In many parts of the world, this is happening even faster than it did in the West. Workshop attendee Thomas Barnett pointed out several times the impact of highly accelerated information within an increasingly interconnected world and the consequences that has for the emergence of new business, government and personal lifestyles. The interconnected life brought on by the Internet and World Wide Web makes it easier to create content, and to have that content accepted by a significant part of their community. Perhaps one of the most meaningful forms of deterrence at the US’s disposal is to foster the growth and security of access to the interconnected world that Web
2.0 promises, a substantiation of point 2, above. In fact, another workshop participant, Tim Wu, Columbia Law School, discussed the US’s obligations to maintain a “balanced approach” to cyber-based deterrence, similar to the US policy of “encouraging an open media and free press around the world.” Dr. Wu summed up his thoughts as follows: “…it will be difficult for the United States to simultaneously criticize the Chinese regime’s restrictive Internet practices if we begin to adopt many of them, even if the ends pursued are much different.” These thoughts considered the role of China but could extend to any other entity, he said.
4) Finally, the roots of conventional, “Cold War” deterrence still apply. Several of the workshop attendees spoke about significantly hardening a manageable part of US infrastructure in ways that simply make it too costly for an adversary to attack. Resiliency is at the heart of this strategy (Barnett, Sub-Chapter 2.A, this report). If the US is able to recover more quickly than the adversary can mount the next attack or follow up from an initial success, the traditional notions of deterrence are likely to be most successful. In other words, the US, through its globally admired resiliency, obscures itself as a target simply because it makes no sense to obligate resources to attack if those resources offer such poor return on investment. The US must maintain its strength in the area of critical infrastructure and economic underpinnings and reduce the adversary’s value proposition such that it costs too much for an adversary to attack. In this sense, the old forms of deterrence calculus, Deterring VNSA in Cyberspace assured return destruction (or equally effective, poor return on investment), probably still apply.
Preview of Subsequent Chapters and Authors’ Contributions Chapter 2, authored by Dr. Larry Kuznar, National Security Innovations, and Dr. Carl Hunt, Institute for Defense Analyses, examines the virtual global perspective of “Life in the Interconnected World.” This chapter reviews some of the initial findings of the Strategic Deterrence SMA of 2007, and points towards the development of a meaningful typology that will inform all future efforts dedicated to better understanding of the threats the US will face in the coming years of the Cyber Age. It also attempts to explain globalization as it applies to the new forms of threats and opportunities the United States faces in the next few years and beyond.
Chapter 2 also manifests as sub-chapters original insights from three outstanding thinkers: Dr.
Thomas P. M. Barnett, Enterra Solutions; Dr. Robert Axtell, George Mason University’s Center for Social Complexity; and Mr. Ken Steinberg, Savant Protection. Dr. Barnett, a political scientist, provided several pages of interesting insights about resiliency and the role the US must play in the future of trade and connectivity; he concludes that the US must be humble in its approach to deterrence in the Cyber Age. Dr. Axtell, an economist and social science modeler, contributed to the workshop with unique insights on the responsibility of the country to shape the impact of deterrence in more modern and meaningful ways such that the entire world benefits, if possible. Finally, Mr. Steinberg offered a technical though accessible forecast of “Cyberism” and Innovation in the 21st Century, commenting on the role that technological innovation will have in deterring violent behavior in the Cyber Age.
Chapter 3, authored by Dr Allison Astorino-Courtois, National Security Innovations, and Matthew Borda, Creighton University, compares and contrasts deterrence at the conceptual level over the last century or so. This chapter goes to some length in defining deterrence terms and concepts that apply to both ages (the Cold War and the Cyber Age), but leans towards refining the concept of deterrence as it applies to the modern warrior. The chapter challenges traditional notions such as “rational actors” and seeks to define various types of conceptual “space” relative to the Cyber Age. The chapter seeks to clarify these terms and concepts in light of global connectivity and Deterrence 2.0.
Chapter 4, authored by Dr. Susan Numrich, Institute for Defense Analyses, looks at the apparent transcendent movement between the “real” and the cyber world. This chapter reveals significant insights on the consequences of global interconnectivity from a behavioral standpoint and the role that traditional and new forms of media have played in shaping these behaviors.
Understanding the role of social networks is important, but this chapter explains how these networks form and how they influence new forms of organization and action. Chapter 4 explores and exposes the nexus between the world we thought we lived in and the cyber world that increasingly manifests the universe that actually transpires.
Chapter 5, authored by Dr. Robert Popp, National Security Innovations and several colleagues, offers a detailed and sometimes technical perspective of the social science modeling tools that hold promise for better understanding and predicting VNSA behavior – this chapter is the longest and most technical component of this report. Chapter 5 also examines at a top level the impact Deterring VNSA in Cyberspace of some 500 million web pages from what is known as the Dark Web, an area of the World Wide Web in which extremist/terrorist data is often posted and consumed. The authors conclude that there is very little difference in the level of sophistication of use of the Web when comparing the US and West and potential terrorist usages of the Web – it appears that the playing field is quite level. This chapter also reviews major features that social science tools offer for both comprehension of past and present events and the potential for predicting behaviors that might allow the US to “get left of boom.” When understood in the context of the insights of writers such as Fallows, Barnett and Axtell, this final chapter offers new opportunities to understand the right mix of traditional deterrence and Deterrence 2.0 techniques that might better operationalize the sources of national power of the US and its allies, the world of the “CyberDIME.” References cited in all of these chapters are aggregated at the end of the report. A list of acronyms used is also provided.