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Report | 22 March 2021

Multi-Domain Complexity and Strategic Stability in Peacetime, Crisis, and War – Annotated Bibliography

Image of Brad Roberts

Brad Roberts |Director of the Center for Global Security Research, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Emerging technologies Global Security

This bibliography by the Center for Global Security Research has been developed in partnership with the European Leadership Network and Dr Andrew Futter of the University of Leicester as an input to a joint effort to create a baseline of shared understanding about multi-domain complexity, strategic stability, and risk mitigation strategies.

Introduction by Brad Roberts

The expansion of military competition into new technical domains, such as cyber space and outer space, has generated a sharp rise of concern about the implications of such competition and capabilities for strategic stability. This concern is reflected in a parallel explosion of scholarship aimed at understanding the nature of these new forms of competition, the associated risks, and possible means to reduce or eliminate those risks. The resulting studies and publications have grown rapidly in number, generating many valuable insights and policy recommendations. But the volume of literature has grown to the point where it is overwhelming for the interested non-specialist seeking to understand the main insights and main currents of debate. Moreover, for the interested policymaker, the literature tends to fall short in two ways. Much of the academic literature is highly specialized, making it somewhat inaccessible for the non-specialist. And it focuses heavily on individual technologies rather than on their complex interactions, as the policymaker experiences them.

In an effort to illuminate those main insights and currents of debate, we have selected a portion of the literature (approximately 75 items) and organized it in a taxonomic structure. Our selection of literature has emphasized items that look beyond individual technologies and their impacts to explore complex interactions among multiple technologies. We have also emphasized items that develop core propositions about impacts on strategic stability. We have not sought to identify every study advancing a particular line of argument, on the argument that one or two were sufficient for the intellectual map we have tried to assemble. We have drawn on English-language sources, including many from Europe. We recognize that there is a significant literature being generated by Russian, Chinese, and other non-Western experts, including by U.S. allies in East Asia, and envision exploring that literature as a possible follow-on activity. This document draws on literature available as of the end of 2020.

The taxonomy developed here draws on the spectrum of conflict. That spectrum consists of three phases: peacetime, crisis, and war. Following the primary interest of analysts in war-time implications,we take these phases in reverse order: war, crisis, and peacetime. In each phase, we have identified in the literature a small number of potential impacts of “emerging and disruptive technologies” on the requirements of strategic stability. The structure of the bibliography follows below.

Read the bibliography here

The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security policy challenges of our time.