The Russia Indictments

“Asymmetrical warfare” is usually  understood to refer to military battles between highly developed and well armed nations and smaller, seemingly inferior nations who nonetheless turn the tables and win. Viet Nam is a good example.

Dan Coats, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, takes the Mueller indictments of Russian nationals for interfering in the 2016 presidential election as a new kind of asymmetrical warfare. In terms of hard military and economic power, Russia is vastly inferior to the United States. But in terms of cyber warfare, the battle is  much more equal. It sounds to me as if Russia may be ahead, while large segments of our population including Trump continue to be in denial.

Mr. Coats said Russian and other actors were exploring vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and trying to infiltrate energy, water, nuclear and manufacturing sectors.

“These actions are persistent, they are pervasive and they are meant to undermine America’s democracy,” Mr. Coats said.

He did not outline any details of what exactly the United States or its intelligence agencies will do to curtail the intrusions. But he did say intelligence and other government agencies will speak more publicly about the threat of cyberattacks and cyberinterference to increase public knowledge.

Mr. Coats said cyberattacks from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran were mounting on American business and government agencies every day.

China has the most adept hackers working for a government, Mr. Coats said. But Beijing’s agenda was more focused on stealing information and technical advances, while Moscow remained more interested in dividing the United States from its allies and undermining democracy, he said.”

Unless Trump pops off and bombs Tehran or North Korea, this cyber battle is clearly the defining security threat of our time. Trump doesn’t even use a computer, and he seems fundamentally incapable of grasping the severity of the problem or seeing the Russian intrusion into the presidential election as being about anything but him.  We’re going to have to look to other parts of our government in order to step and meet this new and very dangerous challenge.

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