Through Persistent Engagement, the U.S. Can Influence ‘Agreed Competition’

In a recent Lawfare post, Max Smeets examines the implications of the shift in U.S. strategic thinking on cyberspace. He correctly notes that U.S. concern has broadened to include not only an adversary’s potential use of cyber means to engage in coercion and operations equivalent to a kinetic armed attack, but also cyber campaigns that can achieve strategic outcomes without resort to war. Smeets cites our work examining how the strategy of persistent engagement can forward U.S. security interests while also stabilizing cyberspace. In assessing the relationship between persistent engagement and the concept of agreed competition, Smeets concludes that “if there is anywhere in cyberspace that state-actors are allowed to compete, it is a very, very small subset of competitive environments.” We come to a different conclusion. Despite agreeing with Smeets that the cyber competitive space is strategic—meaning that it puts relative national power in play—we view the

... read more at: