Borderless Wars: A Live Gray Zone Pathgame

On Monday, November 14 the Strategy Initiative at the Atlantic Council hosted a live gray-zone pathgame exploring US options and responses in the event of a gray-zone attack.

The event began with remarks from Antonia Chayes, Professor of Practice of International Politics and Law at Tuft University’s Fletcher School, regarding her new book, Borderless Wars: Civil-Military Disorder and Legal Uncertainty. In her book, Chayes examines the modern military-legal landscape of counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, and cyber warfare – so called “gray zone” conflicts. These conflicts have thrown civilians and military into unaccustomed roles with inadequate legal underpinnings. Chayes provides solutions through role definition and transparency to help guide the United States to answer the question: how do we legally employ these new tools in these new circumstances?

Chayes was then joined by Atlantic Council’s Scott DePasquale and Brian Michelson as well as moderator Ali Watkins from BuzzFeed. The panel was presented with a pathgame, which tackled the scenario of a difficult-to-attribute cyberattack against Swedish infrastructures.

It is 2017, the day before the new American president is sworn into office, and telephone service across Sweden is shut down. For forty-eight hours, no one can communicate via mobile phone. The attack is 99 percent attributable to Russia, but some doubt remains. In the vacuum of public’s inability to communicate with authorities, violence ensues uninterrupted.

The interdisciplinary panel looked to understand how the United States and Europe would react to these events as they developed. The panelists also encouraged the audience to join in the discussion and offer their input on solutions and points of contention.

Image: Professor Antonia Chayes discusses her new book, "Borderless Wars: Civil-Military Disorder and Legal Uncertainty"