Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


TNSR Releases Special Issue on Cyber Competition

Sep 28, 2020 |

In the Texas National Security Review’s—which is co-sponsored by the Strauss Center—recent special issue on cyber competition, Robert Chesney, Director of the Strauss Center, James Baker Chair and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the UT School of Law, co-chaired the “Policy Roundtable: Cyber Conflict as an Intelligence Contest.” Chesney co-authored the introduction to this roundtable series, titled “Is Cyber Conflict an Intelligence Contest?” in which he and his co-author, Max Smeets, present the fundamental inquiry of the roundtable.

Specifically, they ask which theoretical framework and logic should be employed to understand cyber behavior, given that many have come to acknowledge the limits of the cyber war narrative. Chesney and Smeets then identify the four underlying questions which the authors address throughout the roundtables’ essays: What is the logic of intelligence? Does scale change the fundamental logic of intelligence? How do the structural features of cyberspace shape the behavior of actors? And finally, which key actors are being enabled by the strategic cyber contest? Chesney and Smeets notes that these questions are particularly important given an “exponential increase” in recent years of military cyber command units. It is therefore necessary to ascertain if these command units function more as players in an intelligence contest or in a military contest. This roundtable also aims to delineate the “interdisciplinary boundaries” between cyber conflict and competition. They conclude by noting that this roundtable, while contributing to the unfolding debate, will not settle it, and they further note that they hope it “opens up new avenues for productive conversation and research.” Read the full essay and roundtable series essays here, and additional articles from the special issue here.