07 Jun Does the World Need a CyberWarfare Arms Limitation Treaty?
Now that the U.S. military has a CyberCommand, is it time for the U.S. to begin talks on a CyberWarfare Arms Limitation Treaty with Russia and other nations? (CALT?) The new Cyber Command chief says…maybe. Stewart Baker at Volokh, and former Homeland Security official in the Bush administration and author of a forthcoming book Skating on Stilts, thinks this is a really bad idea. The problem is that the U.S. military is highly legalized, and likely cyber-enemies are not.
The rise of JAG authority over every detail of warfighting means that the Pentagon would be exquisitely sensitive to arguable violations of international law in carrying out operations in cyberspace. Our guys would sit with their fingers poised over the “return” button for hours while the JAGs were trying to figure out whether the Belarussian remarks in committee were a consensus or an individual interpretation of article 42bis. And nobody else would give a damn what the treaty said, because they wouldn’t expect to get caught and because even implausible deniability can’t be rebutted with the certainty needed to make a legal case, let alone send missiles in response.
This seems sensible, but I don’t know enough about cyberwarfare to know if he’s right. And his description of the power of the JAGs over U.S military operations sounds right to me.