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National Security College: Shaping a Strategic Ecology for Cyberspace

ANU National Security College

Tuesday, 12 November 2013 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm (AEDT)

National Security College: Shaping a Strategic Ecology...

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Connection, Communication and Conversation: Shaping a Strategic Ecology for Cyberspace

 Professor Paul Cornish, Professor of Strategic Studies, Strategy and Security Institute, University of Exeter

The expanding global communication infrastructure brings with it the possibility of a worldwide conversation across all dimensions and at all levels of human life. In most of the cases of human interaction, ‘rules of the road’ emerge with usage. But for government interactions, there is a tendency to revert to established ideas and methods which can stabilise and manage competitive relations – often those drawn from the Cold War.

More thought is needed as to how interactions in cyberspace can be managed in an efficient and durable manner. The relaxation of cyber tensions between China and the West, for example, will not come as a result of a technological fix of some sort, and nor will it lie in a Cold War-style strategic stand-off.

The current strategic narrative is dominated by mistrust, claims of espionage, crime and terrorism, by rumours of worse to come and by disagreement over the basic terms of debate. Cyberspace appears to be a lawless frontier in which actors operate according to the rules they prefer. Consequently, the governance of cyberspace is in a state of arrested development.

A strategic ecology for cyberspace is needed which corresponds more closely to the digital environment of the 21st century than to the missile environment of the 20th: a sense of cyberspace as a rule-bound political environment in which the scope and limitations of interaction can be discussed, in which trade-offs and compromise are made possible, and in which mutual interest can be pursued.

Paul Cornish is Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of Exeter, having previously been Carrington Professor of International Security at Chatham House. He has taught at the UK Defence Academy and at the University of Cambridge, and has served in the British Army and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. His work and publications encompass national strategy, cyber security, the ethics of armed conflict and civil-military relations. He is a member of the UK Chief of Defence Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, a Fellow of Oxford University’s Global Cyber Security Capacity-Building Centre, and a Senior Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute.


This presentation is part of the National Security College’s public seminar series.

The National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and ANU.

Have questions about National Security College: Shaping a Strategic Ecology for Cyberspace? Contact ANU National Security College

When & Where

Weston Theatre
1 Lennox Crossing
Crawford Building 132A, The Australian National University
Canberra, ACT 0200

Tuesday, 12 November 2013 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm (AEDT)

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ANU National Security College

The National Security College is a specialist graduate studies school, offering graduate studies and professional courses aimed at enhancing the functioning of the national security community. We strengthen networks of cooperation between practitioners and non-government experts, contribute to the development of a new generation of strategic analysts and provide outreach to business and the wider community.

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