The Ne(x)t War

Hacker at Computer

Everyone here at First Draft has been expounding on the events in Afghanistan this past week or so. If, dear reader, you are so inclined (and I highly recommend it) take a look at Cassandra’s post or Adrastos or my brother Michael, Michael F. All are excellent reads worthy of your time.

I am, like President Joey B. Shark, moving on.

I want to talk about the next war, mostly because it’s already underway.

In case you haven’t noticed, there are nearly constant attacks against Western citizens and companies via the internet. Just today T-Mobile had to admit they had been hacked to the tune of 40 million people having their personal info, including addresses and Social Security numbers, stolen. But they are not the only ones and are far from being the first. Hell, go back far enough and you might discover that this war has been going on longer than the one in Afghanistan.

And it’s not going to end any time soon.

One of the problems is that we first have to admit that it IS a war. You may think that these hacks are being done by some Incel in his parent’s basement as Donald Trump claimed about the DNC hack, but I’m here to tell you it’s pretty obvious that backdoor cyber attacks by individuals or even groups of non governmental individuals are unlikely. Contrary to the myth Hollywood has created, little Matthew Broderick can’t hack into NORAD from his Commodore 64. Nor can any of the individuals, fictional or not, who have tried to ransomware a hacked system. They may have started out as lone wolves, but as the targets became more complicated the individual pirate became a band of pirates and then, just like England in the age of Elizabeth, the pirates went to work for governments. These attacks are coming from well funded government led operations, the kind that, were they in the physical world, would be called guerilla warfare. So first we have to come to the realization that we are in a war and call it that, not cybercrime.

Power grids get hacked. Military computers get hacked. The systems controlling air traffic and even traffic lights get hacked. Elections get hacked. As Deep Throat would say (no not “follow the money”) who benefits? You are talking about a gradual even long term series of attacks on various but vital aspects of everyday life in the West. Tell me, what would cause more deaths, the bombing of one building or the sudden take down of the air traffic control system? 3000 people versus who knows how many of the average of 1.2 million people on flights at any given moment? Think about this, even the most Luddite, living off the grid, burying their money in cans out in the backyard, Survivalist nut case still has to drive a car. That becomes more difficult with no gas because the pipelines have been shut down and more dangerous because the traffic lights are completely turned off. Everyone would be affected. If you wanted to bring rioting and civil unrest to a country this would be the modern way of doing it. Especially if you have a coordinated fifth column of citizens living in the country who would be welcoming the arrival of your “peacekeepers” with rose petals and open arms, all covered live by their favorite faux news network.

Not to mention if you add in a natural disaster like an earthquake or an unchecked forest fire or a pandemic you could bring an entire nation to it’s knees without firing a single shot.

Contrary to nearly every James Bond villain, criminals don’t want to destroy society. They just want to live well WITHIN that society. What’s the point of having all the money in the world if you don’t have anything to buy with it? No, only other societies want to destroy your society. We should know this, we’ve tried to destroy plenty of societies in our history. Afghanistan is just the latest example, but let’s not forget Vietnam, Cuba, the Philippines. and of course our original dual sins of Native American and African tribes. It once was done with guns, germs, and steel. Now it’s done with bits and bytes, the eternal arithmetic of ones and zeroes, on and off.

So, who is this society wanting to destroy the Western way of life? I’m sure you’ve already thought of your own, but I’ll just throw out for your perusal Putin in Russia, the mullahs of Iran, heck how about Xi Jinpingpong in Beijing. All with a desire to undermine, disrupt, and eventually do away with the Western power block so as to increase their country’s power and influence in both their regions and the world. And all of them have the money and the will to do just that.

It’s the new version of The Great Game. Maybe BeyoncĂ© and Jay Z can write a rap on the wireless charging of the cyber brigade.

What do we in the West do then. Well first of all we have to acknowledge the war we are in. We need to spend money to beef up our cyber security. We need to build an effective and immediate counter strike force against any player that would attack our systems. Not to go all Strangelove on you, but we need to build a “doomsday device” that would render any other countries computer systems DOA should they attack ours. We get the rest of our friends and neighbors to agree that an attack on one is an attack on all. We let loose the combined intellectual abilities of our best and brightest to develop hack free systems and other technology to make our computers bullet proof so to speak. Train a large proportion of our armed forces in the ways of the new warfare, it shouldn’t be hard they will have grown up with the computer as their best friend. Most of all we go after, arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate anyone living in a Western democracy who is aiding and abetting those who would do us and our systems harm, no matter if their home is in their parent’s basement or Mar-A-Largo.

Where would the money for all this come from? Well there’s a trillion dollar rathole we just filled in, maybe we can transfer that money over to more 21st century warfare. Stop building giant aircraft carriers that are already dinosaurs the moment some naval designer sets pen to paper. And for the love of Pete stop stockpiling atomic weapons like they were so many cans of creamed corn in the cellar, you really only need a couple. General Dynamics, Boeing, et al will no doubt bitch and moan, but hey guys, you had the opportunity to see the future and decided to stick with what you were doing. Sorry not sorry.

Our adversaries are well armed and our challenge is great, but what has always made the West great is that we have the resources, intellectual capacity, and, yes, the freedom (man) to overcome anything. We just need to realize what needs to be done. Because if we don’t then to paraphrase the poet, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a click.

I’ll give the last word to the kids living across the street from CBGBs

We got computers, we’re tapping phone lines, I know that that ain’t allowed

Shapiro Out

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