Editor's Note: The specter of CYBER-TERRORISM, like the War on Terror is a manufactured threat to take away the limited amount of privacy and liberty that is left to the citizens of the Western World. Julius Caesar said to 'Beware of leaders that beat the drums of war'; in this age that would include those who beat the drums of CYBER-WAR.
launched with great fanfare in 2010 to conduct "full-spectrum military cyberspace operations...in order to ensure U.S. and allied freedom of action in cyberspace, while denying the same to our adversaries." In a recent speech, former director of national intelligence Michael McConnell warned that the U.S. "is fighting a cyberwar today, and we are losing." This week the media was atwitter over the "cyberwar" against various news services, apparently instigated by supporters of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
Since 2010, USCYBERCOM's budget and its ranks have both swelled. It is now housed in a $358 million headquarters at Fort Meade, which is also home to the National Security Agency. Reuters reports that it is "adding 3,000 and 4,000 new cyber warriors under its wing by late 2015, more than quadrupling its size." In the 2014 budget Cyber Command spending will grow by $800 million to $4.7 billion.
Is McConnell right? Is the U.S. losing a cyberwar? In his intriguing new book, Cyber War Will Not Take Place, Thomas Rid, a War Studies scholar at King's College in London, argues that not we are not currently engaged in a cyberwar, and indeed that such a "war" is unlikely ever to take place. Rid is a careful thinker who believes that the public and policymakers are being misled about the magnitude of harm that cyberattacks can inflict.
War, Carl von Clauswitz wrote, "is an act of force to compel the enemy to do our will." Citing this definition, Rid argues: "All war, pretty simply, is violent. If an act is not potentially violent, it's not an act of war, and it's not an armed attack." Without violence, war becomes a metaphor, like the war on obesity or the war on cancer. Clauswitz also argued in a war, a political goal must be attributed to one of the sides. With no goal and no attribution, the activity is something other than war.
Rid proceeds to see how well recent cyberattacks fit these criteria. Consider, for example, the denial of service attacks against Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008, which evidently emanated from Russia. While somewhat disruptive, these "attacks" involved no violence, had no clear political goals, and could not be firmly attributed to the Russian government. At worst, they fall into a middle ground of infotech-mediated aggression that does not amount to war, a zone occupied by acts of sabotage, espionage, and subversion.
Read More: Cyberwar Is Mostly Bunk - Reason.com