The Geopolitics of Cyberspace

A Diplomatic Perspective


In The Geopolitics of Cyberspace: A Diplomatic Perspective, Riordan explores the extent to which the key concepts of classical and critical Geopolitics can be applied to cyberspace, and how they might explain the behaviour of key state and non-state actors. Case studies seek to apply both kinds of geopolitical analysis to the US, Russia, China, the EU and internet companies, discussing what it can tell us about their past and future behaviour. Riordan then explores the implications for both the theory and, especially, the practice of diplomacy in relationship to cyberspace. He argues that foreign ministries and diplomatic services need to reform both their culture and structures to engage successfully with the challenges posed by cyberspace. Underlying the article is an attempt to rescue both diplomacy and geopolitics from popular usages that risk emptying both concepts of meaning.

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Biographical Note

Shaun Riordan (MA Hons, Cambridge 1983) is Director of the Chair for Diplomacy and Cyberspace at the European Institute for International Studies and a Senior Visiting Fellow of the Clingendael Institute. A former British diplomat, he is author of The New Diplomacy (Polity 2003) and Cyberdiplomacy: Managing Security and Governance Online (Polity 2019)

Table of contents

The Geopolitics of Cyberspace: a Diplomatic Perspective
 1 Introduction
 2 Geopolitics
 3 Classical Geopolitics
 4 Critical Geopolitics
 5 Cyberspace
 6 The Geography of Cyberspace
 7 Internet Governance
 8 Cybersecurity
 9 International Law in Cyberspace
 10 Attribution
 11 The Cybersecurity Dilemma
 12 Deterrence
 13 Arms Control
 14 Neutrality
 15 What Happens in Cyberspace Stays in Cyberspace …
 16 Geopolitics of States in Cyberspace
 17 The United States of America
 18 Russia
 19 China
 20 The European Union
 21 Internet Companies
 22 The Implications for Diplomacy and Foreign Policy
 23 Conclusion
 Author Biography


All interested, both academics and practitioners, interested in the future of international relations, the evolution of cyberspace, the management of cobersecurity and Internet governance and the future of diplomacy.

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