Category Archives: Arms Control

Realism Endures: Why States Seek Digital Arms and Will Continue to Do So


I posted earlier today about my forthcoming participation in the Citizen Lab’s Cyber Dialogue 2013 in Toronto, 17-18 March. The Director of the Citizen Lab, Ron Deibert, invited a number of participants (including yours truly) to write blog posts for the Dialogue in order to spur discussion and debate.

My contribution, “Realism Endures: Why States Seek Digital Arms and Will Continue to Do So,” can be found here. In this short essay I make a classical realist argument that states are the primary actors in cyberspace, and that cyberspace compounds state insecurity. So long as insecurity persists in international politics it is only logical – and tragic in the spirit of the Ancient Greeks – that states will continue to seek out digital arms in order to mitigate the anarchy.

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Filed under Arms Control, Canada, Cyberpower, Cyberspace, Cyberwar, Publications, Realism, Ron Deibert, Shameless Self-Promotion, The Citizen Lab, Thucydides, University of Toronto, Web/Tech

An Investment Strategy for US National Security Space


In collaboration with my friend and George C. Marshall Institute boss Jeff Kueter, I authored a Special Report for the Heritage Foundation titled “An Investment Strategy for US National Security Space.”

Jeff and I wrote the report last summer, partly during when I was still working for the U.S. Air Force. For the purposes of full disclosure, when I was employed by the U.S. Air Force I wrote this report in my own spare time using my own private resources.

The report can be accessed for free, but I am posting the abstract here for those hard-pressed for time to wade through a 26 page document:

Today’s space systems fulfill five purposes: (1) environmental monitoring; (2) communications; (3) position, navigation, and timing; (4) integrated tactical warning and attack assessment; and (5) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. These missions are integral to a new American way of warfare. Direct and indirect challenges to American power in space are growing. Other nations are expanding their capabilities to interdict or deny U.S. access to space. Mounting fiscal pressures will likely necessitate changes in national “security space” force structures and acquisition approaches. This Special Report explores the implications of these challenges on U.S. national security space programs and policies. It sets the context for future decision making, providing insight into the myriad issues—from allied capability and intentions to extant arms control proposals—that will likely influence these decisions.The United States is approaching a critical juncture on its investments in national security space capabilities. This juncture is imminent due to the convergence of three forces: (1) a fundamental shift in U.S. defense and diplomatic strategy from the western to the eastern Eurasian landmass—the so-called pivot toward the Asia-Pacific; (2) a large number of the national security space capabilities upon which the United States and its allies critically rely are now legacy systems in need of upgrades and replacement; and (3) severe fiscal pressures on Department of Defense and intelligence community budgets. As the strategic context shifts, the military’s dependence on space systems becomes ever more acute. Since the 1990s, military use of space has grown exponentially, but new strategic demands, bolstered by the accumulating demands of technology, require development of entirely new national security space systems if the United States is to meet future national security challenges with plausible preparedness.

I welcome any comments on this report, and – of course – any other publications I post here.

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Filed under Arms Control, Asia-Pacific, Australia, Diplomacy, Emerging Space Powers, George C. Marshall Institute, Heritage Foundation, Israel, Japan, Jeff Kueter, NATO, Publications, School of Advanced Air & Space Studies, Shameless Self-Promotion, South Korea, Spacepower, U.S. National Security Space, United States, Vietnam

George C. Marshall Institute: Controlling Cyber Conflict? Arms Control, International Norms, and Strategic Restraint

I shall be moderating a panel discussion on “Controlling Cyber Conflict? Arms Control, International Norms, and Strategic Restraint,” on behalf of the George C. Marshall Institute, on Tuesday, 21 June, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Details are as follows, and I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
8:30 a.m.-11 a.m.
National Press Club, 529 14th St, NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC

On June 21, the George C. Marshall Institute will host a panel discussion brings together expert panelists to discuss and explore how cyber conflict can be mitigated. Is the cyberspace domain amenable to arms control solutions, and what would such solutions look like, or are the development of international norms more appropriate? On the other hand, given the unique nature of the cyber domain is strategic restraint by individual actors, as well as the resilient character of the domain itself, enough to mitigate the worst excesses of any cyber conflict? The aim of the discussion would be to generate a broad yet informed debate that can better inform policy makers on the issues at stake.

The panelists are as follows:

  • Dr. John B. Sheldon, Professor, School of Advanced Air & Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and Marshall Institute Fellow – Moderator
  • Mr. Robert J. Butler, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense. (Invited)
  • Mr. David E. Hoffman, Contributing Editor to Foreign Policy and The Washington Post, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy (Doubleday, 2009).
  • Dr. Christopher A. Ford, Hudson Institute, Washington, DC
  • Dr. James A. Mulvenon, Defense Group Inc., Washington, DC
  • Professor Martha Finnemore, George Washington, University, Washington, DC

For reservations, email or call 571-970-3180.

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Filed under Arms Control, Cyberpower, Cyberspace, Cyberwar, Speaking Engagements, Theory of Cyberpower

Sheldon speaking at UNIDIR/SWF Space Security Conference 2011, 4-5 April, Geneva


I shall be in Geneva attending the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and Secure World Foundation (SWF) Space Security Conference in Geneva. I'll be giving a presentation titled 'Reducing Military Tensions, Building Trust' on 5 April.

I shall also be participating in an international discussion on outer space and cyberspace issues.

Hope to see you there!

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Filed under Arms Control, Cyberspace, Diplomacy, Events, Shameless Self-Promotion, Spacepower, Speaking Engagements

Sheldon at Munk Center’s ‘Securing the Cyber Commons: A Global Dialogue’ at University of Toronto, 27-28 March

Shout it from the rooftops
I shall be attending – and moderating the 'War and Control: Deterrence and Arms Control in Cyberspace' panel – the Munk Center's 'Securing the Cyber Commons: A Global Dialogue' to be held at the University of Toronto on 27-28 March.

I shall be moderating Herb Lin of the National Science Foundation, Dave McMahon of Bell Canada, Lt. Gen. Andrew Brooke Leslie, Chief of Transformation of the Canadian Armed Forces, Ted Tzavellas of S4 Incorporated, and Col. Ilmar Tamm, Director of the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Tallinn, Estonia.

Should be an interesting panel!

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Filed under Arms Control, Cyberpower, Cyberspace, Cyberwar, Deterrence, Events, Shameless Self-Promotion, Speaking Engagements, Theory of Cyberpower, Web/Tech

Sheldon in RUSI Journal: Britain and Spacepower

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The journal of the Royal United Services Institution for Defence Studies RUSI Journal – is publishing in its forthcoming December 2010 issue an article by me titled "The Strategic Rationale for Britain in Space: Issues, Opportunities and Challenges." Anyone interested can read it here: Download The Strategic Rationale for Britain in Space – RUSI Journal December 2010

I am told that the online publication of the December 2010 issue is imminent, and the hardcopy should hit the streets just before Christmas.

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Filed under Arms Control, British Foreign Policy, Clausewitz, Diplomacy, Economics, Publications, Shameless Self-Promotion, Spacepower, Strategy, U.K. Defense Policy

World Politics Review Op-Ed: “The Case Against Cyber Arms Control”

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World Politics Review has just published my op-ed, "The Case Against Cyber Arms Control."

The op-ed is based on an earlier post on this blog, "Cyber Arms Control and Pink Elephants."

I should say that this shameless self-promotion will stop … but I doubt it will.

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Filed under Arms Control, Cyberspace, Diplomacy, Publications, Shameless Self-Promotion, Web/Tech