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Mueller's Cyberspace-as-Cold-War Analysis Named ISA Best Paper'

By: Diane Stirling
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A paper written by Milton Mueller, examining the nature of international conflicts about cyberspace occurring in the world today has been named “Best Paper of 2014” by the International Communication Section of the International Studies Association (ISA).

 
  Milton Mueller

Mueller, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor at the School of Information Studies and director of the Certificate of Advanced Studies program in Information Security Management, won the honor for his paper, Are We in a Digital Cold War?

ISA presents the award on an annual basis to an author who makes an original and important contribution to the field of international communication. The presentation is scheduled during the organization’s 2015 convention in New Orleans this week.

Dr. Mueller explained that his interest in creating a comparison of today’s global cyberspace conflicts with the Cold War period in world history stemmed from “what seemed to be a growing militarization of cyberspace. It seemed like the Internet governance issues I work on were being sucked into this dynamic conflict that reminded a lot of people of the Cold War.” To undertake the analysis, the professor researched the nature of the Cold War and the differences between cyber conflict and military conflict. What he discovered, he said, “is that the metaphor is not really very good. It sort of puts things in the context of conflicting governments, when it’s really more about civilian issues related to freedom of the Internet and the openness of Internet.”

In framing his conclusion, Dr. Mueller wrote how “…a direct comparison underscores the profound differences in the type of conflict we were facing then and the type we are facing now.” Nevertheless, the concept is useful as a point of comparison, he said, because…“it asks us to place geopolitical conflict in a historical context that emphasizes the ongoing transformation of the state caused by new forms of interdependence, weaponry and conflict. It tells us not to refight the Cold War but instead to consider the constitutional implications of what we are actually fighting for–and against.”

The ISA was founded in 1959 to promote research and education in international affairs, and has more than 6,000 members located in North America and around the world. ISA cooperates with 57 international studies organizations in more than 30 countries and enjoys non-governmental consultative status with the United Nations.

Professor Mueller has written two books regarding the global governance regime emerging around the Internet. They are: Networks and States: The Global Politics of Internet Governance and Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace.

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