Why Cyber War Will Not and Should Not Have Its Grand Strategist

Martin C. Libicki

Even assuming the cyber domain has yet to stop evolving, it is not clear a classic strategic treatment of cyber war is possible, or, if it were, it would be particularly beneficial. The salutary effects of such classics are limited, the basic facts of cyberspace and cyber war do not suggest it would be as revolutionary as airpower has been, and if there were a classic on cyber war, it would likely be pernicious.


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Capt Lee Zaniewski 5/16/2014 3:09:40 PM

This article cherry picks examples and misrepresents both the advantages of strategic thought and the nature of cyberspace. Dr. Libicki expounds on U-boats without mentioning the far more successful Naval blockade of the Central Powers, which was a strategy more directly taken from Admiral Mahans writings. He glosses over the extremely successful strategic bombing campaign against Japan, which likely saved over 1 million US casualties. Also, his assertion that a system can be perfectly secured shows a lack of understanding of the state of network security. Exploitable vulnerabilities are discovered on a weekly basis and effect millions of systems. In the network security field, a patch on Tuesday is followed by an exploit on Wednesday. Dr. Libicki further asserts that a society abandoning digital networks and returning to a military of the 1970s and an economy of 1995 is proof that a cyber-attack is not that bad. This is simply bizarre. Any society abandoning digital technologies would quickly find itself falling behind economically and technologically. The only society that has attempted such a move, North Korea, has a horrible economic and human rights record. Finally, his assertion that LOAC considerations, the need for deception, and an evolving landscape somehow uniquely affects cyberspace is just false. All of these affect all domains, Air, Ground, Sea, and Space, just at varying degrees.