The Virtual Weapon and International Order


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Lucas Kello

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An urgently needed examination of the current cyber revolution that draws on case studies to develop conceptual frameworks for understanding its effects on international order

The cyber revolution is the revolution of our time. The rapid expansion of cyberspace in society brings both promise and peril. It promotes new modes of political cooperation, but it also disrupts interstate dealings and empowers subversive actors who may instigate diplomatic and military crises. Despite significant experience with cyber incidents, the conceptual apparatus to analyze, understand, and address their effects on international order remains primitive. Here, Lucas Kello adapts and applies international relations theory to create new ways of thinking about cyber strategy.

Kello draws on a broad range of case studies - including the Stuxnet operation against Iran, the cyberattacks against Sony Pictures, and the disruption of the 2016 U.S. presidential election - to make sense of the contemporary technological revolution.

Synthesizing data from government documents, forensic reports of major events, and interviews with senior decision-makers, this important work establishes new theoretical benchmarks to help security experts revise strategy and policy for the unprecedented challenges of our era.

Lucas Kello is senior lecturer in international relations at Oxford University, where he also serves as director of the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs.

“How much has the cyber revolution transformed global politics? With a thoughtful blending of theory and empirical cases, Lucas Kello avoids the pitfalls of cyber utopians on one hand and traditional skeptics on the other. This book is a great introduction to the ways in which the cyber technology is affecting global order.”—Joseph S. Nye, Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and author of The Future of Power

“The Virtual Weapon grapples with the most important security issue facing the world:  how to understand the impact of the creation of the cyber world on the global system.  As the Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, I worried more about cyber security than anything else.  This book is a superb overview of the unfolding challenges, which will only loom larger as this turbulent 21st century draws on.”—Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander of Nato (2010 - 2013).

"An essential scholarly analysis of how both political science and international relations theory need to come to terms with the revolutionary force that is the digitization of information. "—Professor Sir David Omand, former Director of GCHQ

“The Virtual Weapon points to the huge gap in international relations theory regarding the cyber domain, and performs an important service in filling it with conceptual structure.  The book makes a powerful case that the nature of global power has been fundamentally altered by the ongoing digital revolution.”—Prof. Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies 

"The Virtual Weapon poses a much-needed challenge to the fields of international relations and security studies: to take the virtual domain seriously as a distinctive arena of global action. Even those who disagree with Kello's analysis can no longer duck the significance of his subject."—Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America

“Displays an enviable grasp of the technical issues, as well as of the academic landscape . . . Readers of all kinds will find Mr. Kello’s book informative and thought-provoking.”—Economist

"[Kello’s] work represents an important step toward bridging the gap between academic thinking about international relations and the cyber revolution in the real world. We can hope his courage, audacity and clarion call will inspire others to follow."—The Wall Street Journal

“The cyber revolution clearly constitutes an ever-growing challenge to international order. Lucas Kello reflects on technology’s role in political revolution, and the importance of aligning international-relations studies with the unruly expansion of cyberspace.”—Nature
ISBN: 9780300220230
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
336 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
5 b/w illus.
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