Strategic Information Warfare - A New Arena for Arms Control?

Information warfare is a relatively new rubric, which is receiving increasing attention within the United States from both the government and the general population. Recent studies and Congressional hearings have discussed the vulnerability of the U.S. civil infrastructure to information sabotage, perpetrated by both state and non-state actors. Most recently, President Clinton established the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection to identify vulnerabilities in the nation's overall infrastructure and to recommend policy actions to reduce them. One of the areas that the Commission will investigate is the nation's information infrastructure. For instance, the armed services foresee new uses for digital systems to enhance military capabilities, but they also recognize the growing U.S. vulnerability that might be exploited with the techniques of information warfare.

The existence of softer and perhaps more critical homeland targets is creating interest in information warfare at a strategic level. That interest has two very different themes: new weapons the United States might use against an adversary and, in the hands of others, new threats to U.S. civil information-system-dependent infrastructure. The latter, the defensive concern, is currently receiving the larger measure of public attention.