The Army Cyber Institute, in cooperation with the Modern War Institute and the Competition in Cyberspace Project, is pleased to announce an essay contest to generate new ideas and expand the dialogue within the military cyber community.
Essays must answer the following prompt: What is the greatest policy challenge affecting US military cyber operations over the next five years? And what should we do about it?
This topic is broad. We encourage authors to clearly articulate a specific idea or concept in their responses.
Why This Topic? Why Now?
As noted in the Cyberspace Solarium Commission Report, our adversaries have used cyberspace to subvert American power, American security, and the American way of life for more than twenty years. America’s cyber forces have responded to this threat, but cyber leaders have long cited policy and legal constraints as a significant hindrance to their mission. While many changes and reforms have been made in response to these concerns, policy challenges still loom large. Further, new policy challenges will certainly emerge as technology develops and adversary cyber tactics change. The purpose of this essay contest is to therefore identify the greatest policy challenges that will face American cyber forces over the next five years.
- Essays will be accepted from any person from any field, and submissions from non-US participants are welcomed.
- Up to two people may coauthor a single essay entry.
- Participants may submit only one entry to the competition.
- Essays must be original, unpublished, and not subject to publication elsewhere.
- Essays should be less than 2,500 words in length.
- Use the standard submission guidelines for the Modern War Institute.
- Email your entry to ACI_c2p@westpoint.edu with “Cyber Policy Challenge Essay Contest” in the subject line. Once submitted, no edits, corrections, or changes are allowed.
- In your email submission, please include author bio(s) of two to three sentences at most.
- Submission deadline: essays will be accepted until 11:59 PM EDT on April 1, 2022.
Submissions will be reviewed and evaluated by a team from the Army Cyber Institute and the Modern War Institute. Submissions will be assessed based on how well and creatively they address the topic of the contest and provoke further thought and conversation, as well as their suitability for publication by the Modern War Institute (e.g., style, sources, accessibility, etc.). See evaluation questions below:
- Does the essay clearly define a problem and present a solution?
- Does the essay show thoughtful analysis?
- Does the essay inject new, provocative thinking or address areas where there needs to be more discussion?
- Does the essay demonstrate an understanding of current and future technological capabilities?
- Does the essay take lessons from history and apply them to today’s challenges?
- Does the essay propose a solution that has the potential to significantly improve US cyber operations?
- Does the essay demonstrate knowledge of relevant existing writing on cyber operations and challenges?
- Is the essay logically organized, well written, and persuasive?
The directors of Army Cyber Institute and Modern War Institute will make the final judgment for the contest.
The top three essays will be announced publicly and will be published by the Modern War Institute. Essay winners may also be afforded an opportunity to expand on their essay for publication in the Army Cyber Institute’s Cyber Defense Review. Revisions may be required before publication before publication by the Modern War Institute.
Image credit: Bill Roche, US Army Cyber Command
Before we can intelligently address "What is the greatest policy challenge affecting US military cyber operations over the next five years and what should we do about it?"
Before we do this, we must, I suggest, start by asking "What is the greatest policy challenge affecting the United States over the next five years and what can we do about that?"
As to this latter question, let me suggest that:
The greatest policy challenge affecting the United States over the next five years, this is whether we will continue, as we have over the last 30 or so years, to attempt to transform the states and societies of the world (to include our own states and societies here in the U.S./the West); this, so that same might be made to better interact with, better provide for and better benefit from such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy.
(The problem here of course being, that in order to transform the states and societies of the world — to include our own states and societies here in the U.S./the West — this requires that we bring about certain political, economic, social and value "changes;" changes which [a] clearly threaten currently privileged and protected status quo groups both here at home and there abroad and, thus, "changes" that [b] such commonly threatened individuals, groups and regimes — both here at home and there abroad — will do everything in their power to resist.)
As can be clearly seen from the perspective offered above, a world-wide "natural alliance" is to be found (and thus a world-wide "natural alliance" is to be exploited?) by those "currently privileged and protected by the status quo" groups who are, thus, commonly threatened.
Here, for example, is a way that this "natural alliance" has played out of late, in this case, by "resisting change" forces in both Russia and the U.S./the West:
"Liberal democratic societies have, in the past few decades, undergone a series of revolutionary changes in their social and political life, which are not to the taste of all their citizens. For many of those, who might be called social conservatives, Russia has become a more agreeable society, at least in principle, than those they live in. Communist Westerners used to speak of the Soviet Union as the pioneer society of a brighter future for all. Now, the rightwing nationalists of Europe and North America admire Russia and its leader for cleaving to the past."
(See "The American Interest" article "The Reality of Russian Soft Power" by John Lloyd and Daria Litinova.)
“Compounding it all, Russia’s dictator has achieved all of this while creating sympathy in elements of the Right that mirrors the sympathy the Soviet Union achieved in elements of the Left. In other words, Putin is expanding Russian power and influence while mounting a cultural critique that resonates with some American audiences, casting himself as a defender of Christian civilization against Islam and the godless, decadent West.”
(See the “National Review” item entitled: “How Russia Wins” by David French.)
Bottom Line Thought — Based on the Above:
As hopefully the above information illustrates:
a. Before one can address "What is the greatest policy challenge affecting US military cyber operations over the next five years and what should we do about it?" Before we can do this, we must first, I suggest, address:
b. "What is the greatest policy challenge affecting the United States over the next five years and what can we do about that?"
Do you agree?
Does China, also, feel threatened by the U.S./the West's "global change" initiative that I discuss above?
And, thus, might China's "resistance to change" efforts, also, be driving their cyber efforts — as well as those of Russia and conservative groups here in the U.S./the West — as discussed in my initial comment above?
In this regard, consider:
a. First, from a December 2, 2020, "Center for Security and International Studies" (CSIS) paper entitled “Ideological Security as National Security” by Jude Blanchette. Herein, note that much of this (to include my quoted items below) are a translation of a May 2019 article “Ideological Security in the Framework of the Overall National Security Outlook” by Tang Aijun, Associate Professor, School of Marxism, Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party, Socialism Studies:
“One such trap is the myth of neoliberalism. Neoliberal thought originated in developed capitalist countries of the West. Since the 1980s, and especially after the drastic changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, it has spread throughout the world through the “Washington Consensus.” Neoliberalism’s core value and concept is “freedom.” Neoliberalism holds that “individual freedom” is the highest-value demand and advocates freedom as a “universal value.” Individual freedom constitutes the fundamental yardstick for measuring all social activities, and individual freedom and personal interests become the reasons used to explain all individual or social behaviors and historical events. Taking individual freedom as its ultimate value, neoliberalism’s position in the economic field is embodied in the “three changes” [三化]: privatization, marketization, and liberalization. First, neoliberal economists advocate the “myth of private property rights.” They promote privatization for two main reasons: (1) private ownership can guarantee individual freedom, and individual ownership of the means of production gives individuals the opportunity to accumulate wealth and have the conditions for free choice, and (2) private ownership can stimulate individual proactivity, initiative, and creativity in economic activities, thereby increasing efficiency. …
The neoliberal trend of thought has severely affected China’s dominant ideology and has had a serious impact on China’s Reform and Opening policy and economic foundation. [Neoliberalism] not only endangers China’s ideological security but also endangers the state’s economic security. The values of the supremacy of the individual and freedom have a negative impact on dominant Chinese values such as collectivism, equity, and justice. The theory of privatization challenges the current Chinese concept of socialist ownership and impacts the economic foundation of public ownership. Both the theory of market omnipotence and trade liberalization are in fact opposed to the role of the government and government supervision and advocate ‘de-nationalization.’ These principles have had a [negative] impact on the Party’s leadership and the socialist state system.”
b. Next, from the "Foreign Policy" article "What it Means to Be ‘Liberal’ or ‘Conservative’ in China: Putting the Country's Most Significant Political Divide in Context," by Taisu Zhang:
"Compelling as it may seem, this argument, too, has some empirical difficulties: Until the past few years, the dominant socioeconomic or political positions in the Chinese intellectual world were clearly liberal ones: most intellectuals argued for greater institutional restraints on state activity, free market reforms, and stronger protection of civil and political rights. Even today, Pan and Xu’s paper finds that highly educated individuals are generally more liberal than less educated ones. When cultural conservatism reemerged as a somewhat influential ideological position during the later 1990s, its proponents could arguably reap greater social benefits by developing a liberal affinity, rather than a leftist one. For the most part, this did not happen.
Why not? Reading the early work of prominent contemporary Neo-Confucian intellectuals such as Jiang Qing or Chen Ming, one feels that this was a carefully considered — even principled — decision: They saw themselves as defending Chinese traditions against a distinctly hostile Western liberal intellectual mainstream. The “other” they defined themselves against was not some version of socialism or leftism, which at this time was clearly a minority position, but rather a supposedly intolerant liberalism that had dominated Chinese sociopolitical thought since the 1980s."
Bottom Line Thought — Based on the Above:
As the above offerings seem to illustrate, the Chinese regime — much like the Russian regime and status quo groups here in the U.S./the West — all of these appear to be driven to action (to include cyber action?) by the threat posed by the political, economic, social and/or value liberal/neoliberal changes that the U.S./the West has pursued, both here at home and there abroad, since the 1980s.
This being the case, then should not such an understanding form the basis for such questions as:
a. "What is the greatest policy challenge affecting the United States over the next five years and what can we do about that?" And, thus, form the basis, also, for the clearly related question of:
b. "What is the greatest policy challenge affecting US military cyber operations over the next five years and what should we do about it?"
Hmmm. I am certainly far less academically oriented than the erudite dissertation above, I don't believe there is evidence to support that all action is inherent resistance to change by "currently privileged and protected status quo groups." Further the equivocation of these "privileged groups" across China, Russia, and the US is highly inaccurate. I also think we can address the cyber policy challenge question without first addressing all aspects of conflict in societies.