It is good social science practice, and from a Kuhnian perspective expected, that we should seek to understand emerging security dynamics through reference to existing concepts and theory.[2] Erica Borghard, Shawn Lonergan, and Travis Sharp offer such analysis examining cyber capabilities as coercive tools. Appropriately, both articles return to the master, Thomas Schelling,[3] while additionally offering the reader a helpful set of footnoting of the relevant subsequent literature. In stepping back and looking at the fundamental elements of coercion theory, the authors provide an important contribution to current thinking. The challenge for security studies academics attempting to bring our literature to bear in understanding cyberspace is significant. For example, these two articles, published within a month of each other, come to apparently opposite conclusions—the former suggesting that cyber operations are of limited coercive value and the latter allowing that cyber operations might be more effective than critics conclude. This divergence of analysis points to the importance of building a cyber security studies sub-field through more extensive empirical research and theory testing, which both articles attempt. But the divergence of views also highlights the need to consider the development of new explanations beyond existing analytical frameworks.

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