24 Brown J. World Aff. 159 (2017)
The Cyber Character of Political Warfare

handle is hein.journals/brownjwa24 and id is 159 raw text is: 








             The Cyber Character

               of Political Warfare




                          BENJAMIN JENSEN


THE WORLD   IS WITNESSING THE reawakening  of an old strategic practice: politi-
cal warfare. The connectivity of the modern world puts a premium on coercive
diplomacy  in the shadows. States such as Russia conduct a new form of politi-
cal sabotage, using a mix of cyberpower and propaganda  to attack electoral
institutions and undermine faith in the democratic process.' Moscow uses cyber
operations to carry out covert, coercive campaigns short of war; it tampered with
elections and disseminated fake news across multimedia in Ukraine in 2014,
the United States in 2016, and France in 2017.
     Cyber  incidents such as these show how states are mixing the old with
the new. Much  like the early Cold War, emerging cyber operations combine
espionage, propaganda, economic  warfare, and sabotage in an effort to signal
resolve and shape adversaries' foreign policies.2 The character of war and strategic
competition is changing. The new  cold war is online, yet just as fraught with
escalation risks and uncertainty as it was 30 years ago.
     This article draws on early Cold War declassified documents and histori-
ography as well as the emerging literature on cyber operations to explore the
changing  character of strategic competition and coercion. While the Third
Offset-with  its promise of a military affairs revolution defined by unmanned
battlefields and artificial intelligence-grabs the headlines, a more subtle change
is taking place beneath the surface.3 States are discovering how to use cyber
coercion as a means of undermining adversaries and influencing those adversar-
ies' foreign policy options. This article proceeds by defining political warfare,
drawing out examples of key operational forms, and situating them within the


BENJAMIN JENSEN holds a dual appointment as Associate Professor at Marine Corps University and as
Scholar-in-Residence at American University, School of International Service. His research uses a mix
of experimental methods, simulations, quantitative analysis, and historical cases to analyze the changing
character of strategic competition and conflict.
Copyright © 2017 by the Brown journal ofWorldAffairs


FALL/WINTER   2017 * VOLUME  XXIV, ISSUE I

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