ABSTRACT Implicit in many analyses of the use of cyber power in international politics and foreign policy is that realist geopolitics no longer matter. Even when the term geopolitics is used in such analysis, it is as though the geography has become unmoored from the politics. While there is undoubtedly a geographic foundation to cyberspace because of its physical infrastructure of networked computers, cables, and satellites, it is widely assumed that the geographic setting has no relevance to the political use of cyber power by states and non-state actors. This article argues that while cyberspace shrinks time and space in many obvious ways, the geographic setting still matters in the use of cyber power. Further, comprehending the geopolitics of cyber power can help policymakers and analysts understand the identity, motivations, and intentions of actors.
John B. Sheldon, Ph.D., is the executive director of the George C. Marshall Institute in Arlington, Virginia; founder and owner of the Torridon Group LLC, a space and cyberspace consultancy; senior fellow at the Atlantic Council; and a senior fellow in Global Security Studies at the Munk School on Global Affairs at the University of Toronto in Canada. Prior to his current positions, John was Professor of Space and Cyberspace Strategic Studies at the U.S. Air Force’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS) at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. For over six years, John taught the National Security Space course and founded, directed, and taught the Intelligence, Information, and Cyberspace course. A former British diplomat, John holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Hull, UK, and a Ph.D. in politics and international relations from the University of Reading, UK.