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Attribution is one of the most serious challenges associated with cyberattacks. It is often difficult to determine who launched an attack and why, which hinders efforts to formulate appropriate responses. Although the attribution problem has been discussed extensively in research on cybersecurity, it is generally approached as a technical challenge for security professionals and politicians. I contend that it is vital to take the attribution problem beyond this elite focus by considering how attributional challenges can interfere with the public’s efforts to understand security challenges and evaluate government actions. Faced with uncertainty and the confusion of attempting to understand novel cyber threats, citizens frequently lack the information they need to reliably identify the culprits behind attacks—or sometimes even to know whether an attack has taken place. I show that attributional uncertainty immediately following cyberattacks encourages dependence on a narrow range of elite frames and the assignment of blame to familiar enemies. Over time this promotes conspiratorial thinking and poses a risk to democratic accountability. When seen in light of these broader costs, the attribution problem becomes a vital political concern with implications that reach beyond the scope of elite-focused cybersecurity research.
There are strong moral and legal pressures against harming civilians in times of conflict, yet neither just war theory nor international law is clear about what responsibilities belligerents have to correct harm once it has been inflicted. In this book, Marcus Schulzke argues that military powers have a duty to provide assistance to the civilians they attack during wars, and that this duty is entailed by civilians' right to life. Schulzke develops new just war principles requiring belligerents to provide medical treatment and financial compensation to civilian victims, and then shows how these principles can be implemented in governmental, military, and international practice. He calls for a more individual-focused conception of international law and post-war justice for victims - as opposed to current state- or group-based reconstruction and reparation programs - which will provide a framework for protecting civilian rights.
Recent scholarship on militarisation suggests that Western democracies are threatened by military influence spreading into civilian domains. I contend that this research has identified problematic forms of militarisation, but that more careful attention should be given to different manifestations of this phenomenon. I borrow Herbert Marcuse’s distinction between necessary and surplus repression to show that militarisation can be excusable or excessive, depending on the context and its extent. Militarisation is potentially harmful and should be opposed when it is coercive or promotes militarism. By contrast, militarisation may be necessary if it is beneficial or ineliminable. A degree of militarisation may be desirable insofar as contact between civilians and soldiers promotes the spread of information, ensures that civilians have some influence on the military, and prevents members of the military from feeling detached and resentful. Some militarisation may also be indispensable for guarding against plausible threats or promoting social stability. Thus, militarisation should be treated as a process that has mixed costs and benefits depending on how it is enacted.
Political scientists are increasingly engaged with the importance of the “visual turn,” asking questions about how we understand what we see and the social and political consequences of that seeing. One of the greatest challenges facing researchers is developing methods that can help us understand visual politics. Much of the literature has fallen into the familiar qualitative versus quantitative methodological binary, with a strong bias in favor of the former, and has consequently been unable to realize the advantages of mixed-methods research. We advance the study of visual politics as well as the literature on bridging the quantitative versus qualitative divide by showing that it is possible to generate quantitative data that is rooted in, and amenable to, qualitative research on visual phenomena. Our approach to conducting mixed-methods research is an alternative to the more common strategy of seeing various research methods as an assortment of tools, as it is directed at developing an organic relationship between qualitative and quantitative methods. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this strategy for research on visual politics by discussing our own efforts to create a dataset for quantifying visual signifiers of militarism.