Beyond Punishment: Deterrence in the Digital Realm
by
Mika Kerttunen

Abstract:

Deterrence theory has since its inception justified the build-up and maintenance of weapons arsenals assumingly guaranteeing our survival. However, we do not know whether deterrence theory works in practice: major wars may have been avoided for many other reasons than fear of punishment or (other) high costs. Skepticism towards cyber deterrence is used to justify unilateral, punitive, even preventive, pre-emptive, or continuous action against assumed adversaries. Nuclear weapons-centric deterrence, stressing the avoidance of reckless state behavior, could be improved to face the contemporary, technology-infused realities, where zero-tolerance of error or incidents, vital in the nuclear realm, is not realistic. As a result, we have come to accept or denounce cyber operations based on their targets and effects. As a contribution to achieving responsible state behavior in cyberspace, the author suggests utilizing cost calculation, the underlying assumption of deterrence theory, to the fullest: to include the promise of rewards in our policy options.

Previous Issue

The lead article in the Spring 2014 issue of Connections looks into the interplay of incentives and requirements for NATO membership from the point of view of an aspirant country, Georgia. Other papers question the effectiveness of the UN Security Council vis-a-vis the Syrian crisis, the US pivot to Asia in view of the enduring terrorist threat, an... Read More