In today’s Boston Globe, former Strategic Planner at U.S. Cyber Command Dave Weinstein and I discuss why NATO needs to formulate a defined policy and response against the growing cyber threat. The upcoming NATO summit in Wales is the appropriate place to discuss. The following is an excerpt:
Fortunately, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has taken the first step by announcing its intention to include cyber attacks in its Washington Treaty, the accord reached in August 1949 to form the alliance. Jamie Shea, the official in charge of emerging security threats, says NATO will “explicitly state that the cyber realm is covered by Article 5.”
This section of the treaty is the cornerstone of the alliance. It declares that an armed attack against one member nation is an armed attack against all, thereby justifying collective defense. The clause has only been invoked once: On Sept. 12, 2001, in defense of the United States after the 9/11 attacks.
Cyberspace has rapidly emerged as an attractive alternative for nations to pursue military objectives. The domain’s inherent anonymity offers opportunities that the physical world renders militarily and politically infeasible. NATO countries face significant cyber threats from many nations, notably Russia.
But recognizing cyberspace sabotage as an act of war is only halfway to a coherent policy. Shea continues, “We don’t say exactly which circumstances or what the threshold of the attack has to be to trigger a collective NATO response and we don’t say what the collective NATO response should be.” This attitude of “we’ll know it when we see it,” however, is not a strategy.
NATO’s objective should be to deter all aggression in cyberspace. A carefully worded clause in the treaty should be able to do that. It should define exactly what constitutes cyber aggression, and how NATO members, individually or collectively, will respond.
Here are some other issues I feel should be addressed at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales, detailed in my latest Foreign Policy Op-Ed.
Dean Stavridis with his basset hound, Lilly.
Dean James Stavridis is the 12th leader of The Fletcher School since its founding in 1933. A retired Admiral in the U.S. Navy, he led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander.
- Foreign Policy: China’s 3,000-Acre Aircraft Carriers Could Change the Balance of Power in the Pacific
- Dean’s Video: Sept 2015: “Why Fletcher?” General Joseph Dunford (MA ’92) on His Path to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
- Media Roundup Sept 13: U.S. Needs to Be Doing More in Syrian Migrant Crisis
- Media Roundup Week of Sept 6: U.S. Must Do All It Can to Aid Syrian Crisis; Plus the Future of Guantanamo, and the Bio Revolution
- “Why Fletcher?” Small Program Size Creates Big Opportunities, LLM Graduate Joel El-Qalqili
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013