'Legitimate' cyberwar to make culture wars uglier

Hacktivism is only a start; cyberwar may be as big a part of domestic politics as dirty tricks


Cyberwar creates a completely new set of combative, destructive alternatives that don't require military power or a willingness to redistribute blood and body parts.

It gives small countries a way to confront large countries. It gives pro- and anti- forces on opposite sides of any seriously divisive social issue an option for direct action that doesn't involve murder or insurrection. It provides a third way – other than sanctions-and-spying or air-raids-and-killing – for the U.N or other international diplomatic bodies to respond to international conflicts.

That may reduce the number of conflicts between governments that degenerate into open or covert warfare.

It may also increase the level of violence by reducing the moral barrier between arguing and fighting, allowing countries or partisan groups to intensify a fight without actually fighting, but justifying the use of force in the minds of their hacked-off opponents.

Either way the legitimization of cyberweapons and cyberattacks will change the dynamics of conflict – between nations, among ethnic populations, political groups, corporations or, potentially, overachieving but antagonistic dens of Cub Scouts.

Having a less-than-lethal option for leaders whose non-lethal options run out fairly quickly should only be a good thing, in the same way giving Tasers to police should have had only a positive effect on law enforcement in the U.S.

More optionsbetter choices

Rather than simply allowing individual cops to replace shootings with Tasings didn't make it easier to enforce laws, subdue bad guys or convince idiots to stop being idiots. It also didn't eliminate the tendency of police who abuse their power by making it harder to decide to shoot. It made many more aggressive because inflicting pain on others often gets you what they want – other people to shut up when you tell them to – without having to kill anyone and answer lots of awkward questions afterward.

Not all cops respond that way, but some do. The jerks, mainly.

National leaders can be jerks, too. The ability to hack a country that pissed you off in some way is one many national leaders won't be able to resist. In Syria, Egypt, Libya and other countries subject to Arab Spring or other popular-liberation movements, one of the most common responses during the past 12 months has been to attack the opposition's ability to use the Internet as a way to communicate with members or pontificate to the world at large. That didn't eliminate the beatings, extrajudicial executions or, in Syria, at least, the temptation to pacify rebellious townships by parking tanks in residential areas and having them open fire at random.

Cyberweapons, like any other weapon, tool or plush toy animal, will be viewed and used in different ways by almost everyone with the option of using them at all.

Join us:






Answers - Powered by ITworld

Ask a Question