Networked Security in the Western Pacific: A Web Without a Spider?

Author: Zac Rogers

Rogers, Zac, 2019 Networked Security in the Western Pacific: A Web Without a Spider?, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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The pursuit by the United States military and its allies of network-centric operations and the resulting ‘effects-based’ approach to warfighting drives the growth and expansion of the physical digital information infrastructure network that is its critical enabler. The thesis argues, drawing on ‘actor-network theory’, that such physical infrastructure is best understood as a co-actant in a material-semiotic actor-network which has grown and evolved to become durable relationally as co-actants. Network semiotics refers to the meanings associated with the digital and networked age, networked operations and effects-based warfare, and ‘networked security’. These meanings circulate around the material-semiotic actor-network as referents which are consumed, altered, and reused. The thesis argues that since the end of the Cold War in the Western Pacific, the structural evolution of this actor-network among the US and its major allies Japan and Australia exhibits the ‘hub’ features of a ‘scale-free network’ model. These are exhibited via inscriptions which identify circulating networked security references within the material-semiotic actor-network; these are growth, preferential attachment, competition for fitness connectivity product, and the structural formation of network hubs. These network hubs, in turn it is argued, present situated and co-productive agents, understood in the discipline of International Relations (IR) to be state actors, with an altered set of incentives and constraints compared with particular reductive, anthropocentric structural perspectives informing the IR tradition of structural realism. The thesis concludes that a model of network-centric operations as a material-semiotic actor-network offers academics and policy makers a new critical perspective and tool set with which to develop explanations and predictions of strategic dynamics in East Asia driven increasingly by the pursuit of ‘effects -based’ network-centric operations.

Keywords: Network, Security, Western Pacific, International Relations, United States, Australia, Japan, China, Digital, Actor-Network Theory, Scale-free network model, Self-organising systems

Subject: International Relations thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2019
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Dr Maryanne Kelton