Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security


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Framed this way, the paper analyzes the drug war in Mexico as a conflict between two different systems of resource extraction struggling to construct rival patterns of social order.

Cybersecurity, nuclear threat and global politics: What to watch for in 2018

It then draws on thermodynamics and the complex adaptive systems literature to compare the abilities of the drug trade and the Mexican state to convert available resources into favourable patterns of social organization. Rather than focus on particular DTOs or kingpins, it then adopts a system-level analysis to explore the ways in which these different characteristics affect the dynamics of the violence today. The paper ultimately argues that the differing natures of the state and the drug trade as systems of resource extraction constrain their respective abilities to create organization, and that these differences advantage the drug trade.

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A message from the author: In the introduction, my paper notes the dearth of systematic analysis of the drug war in Mexico; subsequent to its publication I came across a fantastic paper by researchers at the Applied Systems Thinking Institute that responds to this deficit as I sought to do in my own paper. Whereas my paper applies complex adaptive systems and thermodynamics thinking, these authors take a different tack by systematically mapping the causal loops of the drug war. The two papers thus provide complementary examples of the different ways in which complex systems thinking may be applied to this pressing security issue, and I recommend reading them in tandem.

Skip to main Skip to footer. Dasilva Abstract: This essay explores how humans reveal, access, and harness new primary sources of energy from nature. Environment 3 EV3 room , ext. Subscribe to WICI mailing list. In , the U. The Department of State was involved in the planning process for this initiative and has been at the forefront of working with other nations, which are also donating funding and vaccine.

As we look back at the H1N1 response effort, we see the value of diplomatic engagement before, during, and after an acute situation. We advance our security, our prosperity, and our values by improving the material conditions of people's lives around the world. Better global health promotes stability and growth, which can deter the spread of extremism, ease pressure for migration, reduce the need for humanitarian and development assistance, and create opportunities for stronger political alliances and economic relations.

Health diplomacy is an element of foreign policy that enhances US and global security and builds strong partnerships. We must create and sustain partnerships to ensure progress. These are partnerships that cover the globe, engaging health and foreign affairs ministries, bilateral and multilateral organizations, the public and private sectors, and research and health care communities. Our global health work is moved forward through research efforts. Research on disease mechanisms, vaccine development, and program implementation are key to advances in both medical care and program effectiveness.

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President Obama has spoken clearly on the importance of science and data-based policymaking. Science, technology and innovation proceed more rapidly and more cost-effectively when insights, costs and risks are shared; and so many of the challenges that science and technology will help us meet are global in character.

Department of State advances global health interests every day. We work closely with the U.

Staff members move between departments and joint efforts are apparent everywhere. This interplay allows us to have state-of-the-art information and to reflect it to all interested parties. Most importantly, Secretary Clinton is a champion of improving health conditions around the world. Today we face a range of issues that confront our nation and the world and that must be addressed to ensure stability and security. Global health is such an issue. The author has declared that no competing interests exist. No specific funding was received for this piece.

Provenance: Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. PLoS Med. Published online May Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. This rhetoric has resonated with U. The Cold War nuclear analogy also invites comparison of cyber weapons to nuclear weapons. In making such comparisons, cyber security proponents have coined new terms and acronyms that place nuclear weapons and cyber weapons in the same category.

Even President Barack Obama has used the term. Others have gone further by not only working to place cyber weapons and nuclear weapons semantically into the same category, but by arguing that cyber attack can have effects equivalent to nuclear attack. Similarly, retired Air Force Lt. Administration officials have even refused to rule out the possibility of nuclear response to particularly destructive of disruptive cyber attacks Markoff and Shanker, a. This tendency presents several problems.

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First, if cyber weapon capabilities have been exaggerated, then it is unlikely that strategic cyber attacks, if they did occur, could be decisive in the way that nuclear weapons could be [ 31 ]. Ironically, however, without the potential for decisiveness, the threat of cyber retaliation alone would likely have little deterrent value, meaning that one would have to rely upon threats of physical retaliation to deter cyber attacks.

In turn, this could encourage an escalation to physical confrontation — that is, assuming the defender follows through on his threat of retaliation, without which any future threats would lose credibility. It is important to remember that during the Cold War, the threat of massive retaliation did not deter all war.

It only deterred all—out nuclear war. As Raduege notes, the Cold War ended up taking the form of numerous proxy wars fought around the globe, from Southeast Asia to Latin America. Similarly, not only will U. Finally, all of this points to another problem: a simplification of nuclear deterrence and Cold War history.

In short, there was no one nuclear deterrence strategy during the Cold War. Nuclear strategy evolved over time Freedman, Unfortunately, current notions of cyber deterrence are more akin to the s strategy of massive retaliation that was ultimately deemed incredible and dangerous in comparison to the later, more nuanced variants of deterrence.

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Finally, a number of other differences between nuclear weapons and cyber weapons render the quest for cyber deterrence inappropriate at best and even potentially counterproductive. Cyber attacks generally suffer from a crisis of cause and effect. As Mike McConnell and others have noted, deterrence is impossible without the ability to credibly threaten the attacker. The unpredictable results of a cyber response could encourage the use of a more predictable but more deadly physical response. It is for all of these reasons that Myriam Dunn Cavelty warns against the use of the language of deterrence and aggression with respect to cyber threats.


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Such language is counterproductive because it results in a self—fulfilling prophecy: actions taken by one state to increase its security can make others feel less secure, resulting in their taking similar actions, which confirms to the first state that it is insecure, and so on Dunn Cavelty, Although there are real cyber threats that need to be taken seriously, including the daily occurrences of cyber crime and cyber espionage conducted by both state and non—state actors Dunn Cavelty, , effective response requires disaggregating and distinguishing among the various threats that have been lumped under the term cyber war Dunn Cavelty, ; Dunn Cavelty and Rolofs, ; Lewis, Each threat should be addressed first and foremost by the institutions and using the techniques most appropriate to it.

As such, instead of one metaphor and set of analogies through which to think about cyber threats e. The remainder of this essay will consider several alternative metaphors and analogies in an effort to demonstrate that it is neither natural nor inevitable that we should think about cyber conflict in terms of war and nuclear deterrence. First, I will suggest that analogies to counter insurgency or biological warfare might be more appropriate than analogies to nuclear deterrence for the subset of cyber threats of a political—military nature.

Second, I will argue that various types of biological metaphors and analogies might be more appropriate for thinking about the full spectrum of cyber threats, including cyber war. Finally, I will conclude the section by discussing the limits of these metaphors and analogies in particular, the limits of metaphors and analogies in general, and the limits of military and government responses to cyber threats.

Similarly, the drive to apply the law of war to cyber conflict and to look for guidance in analogies to Cold War nuclear deterrence overlooks the reality of the vast majority of cyber attacks.

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As mentioned above, numerous observers have noted that we have yet to see any cyber attacks that rise to the level of war or terrorism as traditionally defined. Nonetheless, two recent chronologies of cyber attack incidents indicate that there have been plenty of cyber incidents [ 33 ]. This does not include the number of similar incidents perpetrated for criminal or espionage purposes that have not been publicized. Even the most well—known cyber attack, Stuxnet, largely fits this pattern. The public discussion that followed the revelation that Stuxnet was a joint, U.

But the details found in his reporting should suggest that even state—level cyber conflict currently resembles the world of intense espionage, covert actions, sabotage, and proxy conflicts more than it does global nuclear war. Just as acknowledgement that the war in Iraq had become an insurgency led to a substantial change in the way the U.


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  • While a few scholars have begun to explore cyber conflict as a form of low—intensity conflict or even insurgency Dartnell, ; Liles, , the mismatch between the reality of most cyber attack incidents on one hand and the still—dominant war metaphor and nuclear deterrence analogy on the other indicates that more work is needed in this area. The United States has expended a great deal of money and effort addressing threats that are in many ways strikingly similar to cyber threats: the threats of biological warfare and bioterrorism.

    But the lessons learned in the area of biosecurity have generally not made their way into the dominant American discourse of cyber security.

    The similarities between the two sets of challenges should suggest that biological warfare and bioterrorism are far more appropriate analogies than nuclear deterrence for describing and responding to cyber threats. In the s and early s, in the wake of a number of high—profile terrorist attacks, such as the bombing of the World Trade Center, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the nerve gas attacks in the Tokyo subway system, U. Anonymity combined with the difficulties of effectively targeting a non—state entity with traditional military force and the extreme religious or political views of the kinds of groups that many believed would be most likely to carry out mass casualty attacks meant that a policy of deterrence based on threats of massive retaliation was largely impossible Hoffman, The United States certainly did not threaten the development and use of offensive biological warfare capabilities of its own as a means of deterring biological attack from non—state actors.

    Instead, the primary policy response was focused on public health measures meant to provide early warning and mitigate the effects of a biological attack were it to occur. As in the case of a counter insurgency analogy, the striking similarities between biosecurity and cyber security suggest that the former not only can provide a better model for describing the latter, but if taken seriously might lead policy—makers to less militaristic and more appropriate responses to cyber threats. We know about Stuxnet because its American and Israeli developers were not able to limit its effects to the intended target.

    Like a biological weapon, Stuxnet was difficult to control and ultimately spread beyond its intended target.

    Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security
    Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security
    Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security
    Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security
    Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security
    Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security
    Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security
    Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security Complexity, Global Politics, and National Security

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