Cyber war needs an enemy

Brookline, Massachusetts

The Oct. 30 opinion piece “When should a cyberattack be considered an act of war?” was an excellent article by Ellen Nakashima. She raises important questions and implies some potentially catastrophic answers.

Why did U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta only address business executives and why did he address them inside an aircraft carrier? Why weren’t a cross-section of American citizens invited to hear Panetta’s report?

From a military-industrial point of view it makes perfect sense. Panetta needs the support of the business community to prepare for a cyber war that is most surely in advanced stages of preparation. With support from the business community the government has a green light to move seriously in a war-making direction. It has been that way since at least 1910 in America. The symbolism of holding the talk inside an aircraft carrier is all too clear. That Panetta’s talk is now public information follows a familiar pattern; inform the public after you win industrial approval.

The next step is to target a human enemy, real or imagined. The military-industrial-complex needs an enemy. They cannot function without one whether we are talking about economic competition or war-making. As Nakashima points out, this is a difficult task. Where do we find a human face in cyberspace? Yet, there is one or more there because modern technology does not yet operate entirely independent of human minds. An attack on a machine would appear ludicrous. Those who play “nuclear roulette” in the 21st century need a blood-letting. There must be a war cry followed by a preemptive attack on a human nation group, or individual, then a war whoop of “victory” followed by traditional parades and ceremonies justifying the huge expense in money and lives.

Panetta is merely doing what others have done for decades in the name of peace and security. The handwriting on the wall is all too clear.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

david rothauser