Rejecting the inflationary use of the term “war” – which apart from anything else plays down the horrors of an actual war – Eneken Tikk and Mika Kerttunen advocate a definition of war that clearly follows Clausewitz. Neither current nor anticipated future cyber activities
are subsumed by this concept, because – then as now, and most likely in the future – such activities are not capable of causing substantial physical damage. The fact that militaries around the world are developing and expanding their capacities to wage war via electronic
means does not contradict this observation. Rather it is a logical consequence of increasing digitalization and interconnectedness.
Nevertheless – and this is the authors’ central argument – this issue is about more than just terminology. As cyberspace becomes a zone of conflict, talk of war makes us blind to actual risky developments. Because of their “below-the-threshold” character, cyber operations of all kinds are attractive as a standard means of projecting power – especially to smaller states and new cyberpowers. This promises to bring destabilization, the gradual debasement of
the principles of international law, and escalatory automatisms leading to the risk of a conventional kinetic war.