Cyber Statecraft: Linking Geeks and Wonks to Respond to National Security Incidents | Atlantic Council
This gap between technical operators and policymakers has not yet led to deep tragedies but soon might. Imagine a fast-moving crisis where one side’s political leadership is calling their counterparts, demanding answers. The other side in the crisis, however, can neither get good answers from their own internal departments about the incident nor willing to confess this to the other nation. They would be both out of control of the situation and seemingly even more guilty in the eyes of the world.
There are many reasons why cyber conflict is considered an awkward and destabilizing national security problem. One of the more overlooked is the gap between the technical elite and senior politicians and policymakers, a disconnect that could become tragic during fast-moving cyber conflicts. While this gap is shrinking in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia, it still is very significant elsewhere. China in particular needs to create better ways to connect their national security decision-makers with their technical incident responders – linking geeks and wonks – to help ensure technical incidents do not escalate out of political control.
The Need to Link Geeks and Wonks
Traditionally, malicious cyber incidents are too often handled as a purely technical matter. Accordingly, deep problems remain because there has been no link between thetribes from, for example, MIT and CalTech and those from the Kennedy School and SAIS. To build cyber cooperation, and manage conflict and competition, the world needs solutions combining the best ideas from both these groups.