13 thoughts on “My New Comment is Free Piece on the Strategic-Moral Failings of Cyberwarfare – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. How do you have substantive engagement with countries like Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan which contain large, lawless areas beyond the control of a central government.

    Do the governments of countries even want the United States government holding a dialogue with their local, unruly tribal leaders and warlords?

    These countries governments are so weak or venal that they host foreign terror groups.

    1. It’s the job of a superpower like the U.S. to attempt to have constructive relationships with all, or as many as possible nations. Whether the country has a strong of weak central government has nothing to do with whether or not our relations should consist almost entirely of killing their citizens with drone strikes. If that’s the best relationship you & Obama can come up with neither you nor he deserve to be considered representatives of civilized nations.

      1. You and I can barely carry on a dialogue without threats and recriminations. It is wishful, bordering on magical, thinking to expect governments to succeed where individuals cannot.

        You and I remain at loggerheads on all core issues. Why can’t States also remain at loggerheads?

        Usually, States resort to military action in order to break a political stalemate.

        1. Your problem is that you don’t argue in good faith. You always stack the deck in Israel’s favor & are willing to stretch the truth or ignore it altogether.

          States only resort to military action when they believe they have superior power to dominate an enemy. Which is what Israel does at will. Not to mention Israel won’t be able to remain at loggerheads forever with its enemies. Eventually, Israel will face a situation when it cannot win, cannot dominate. Then it will slide rapidly downhill from there. The key is to solve the conflict before Israel has a big fall from which it may not recover. You believe Israel can maintain itself forever amidst hostile neighbors. I know that can go on only so long before Israel’s invincibility is pierced.

          1. Pretty much my views are expressed by Richard. Excellent and interesting exchanges of opinion about wars, whether they are potlicial, military or cyber in nature.

  2. The Chinese, for example, have been conducting cyber warfare on U.S. commercial and military targets for years at great cost to intellectual property and advances in industrial methodology and productivity. RS Reaching into the barrel to compare drones over Pakistan, where the military and the government shelter terrorists, is off the subject.

  3. The most obvious way for cyber warfare to result in mass physical casualties, is via railway signalling systems.

    Stuxnet was specific to German-made programmable ladder controllers and countries with German railway signalling systems suffered quite a few accidents after Stuxnet was released. Nothing can be proved, and if connected, the disasters were probably accidental. But a warning as to the sort of thing we could see if it were done on purpose.

    The controlling computers in a nuclear power station can always be firewalled, or simply isolated from outside connection and untested memory sticks. But it’s impossible for all the programmable parts of a signalling system to be contained on a quarantined and protected site.

    This realization is not completely new and unique: Terry Nation’s science fiction drama “Blake’s Seven” featured a cyberwar attack on “the old channel tunnel” in 1979 or 1980. This involved a fairly simple points switch at a mid-tunnel crossing point between the two main bores.

    (This crossover, to allow bypasses of track and tunnel sections under maintenance, had been in some of the proposed designs before the programme was broadcast, it wasn’t in any designs published afterwards and, needless to say, there’s no way of getting a train from one bore to the other in the tunnel that was finally built. Which rather proves that nobody could think of a way of actually securing the signalling system so that a deliberate collision couldn’t be commanded: the only way is physical separation of trains travelling in different directions. There’s no way of doing this over an entire railway network, only in specific tunnels.)

    The Blake’s Seven episode may be lost in the BBC’s archives, or it may be destroyed, but if it still exists, behind the ropey sets and special effects, it probably does cover all the ways a major physical disaster could be inflicted through cyberwarfare. Might be worth a study if a copy of tape or script can be obtained.

    1. Episode “B13” in BBC talk, titled “Star One”.
      Although it’s a sort of background to the story, pretty well every cyberwar disaster possible, happens.

    2. (This crossover, to allow bypasses of track and tunnel sections under maintenance, had been in some of the proposed designs before the programme was broadcast, it wasn’t in any designs published afterwards and, needless to say, there’s no way of getting a train from one bore to the other in the tunnel that was finally built.

      Absolutely untrue: of course there are crossovers. Two I think. I have been on trains that crossed over tunnels. There was part single-tunnel working for six months after the first fire.

  4. Re: civilized nations: A term wrapped in fable and wish fulfillment. Nations can at times act in “moral” ways – the Marshal Plan comes to mind – but always in their own self interest, which has little or nothing to do with morality (vide operational intelligence policies and practices, including so-called cyber warfare).

  5. So if a terrorist who sits in a rural area in Afganistan not controllable by a central government plans an attack against US forces or US territory, in your opinion the guy who’s responsible for the security of the Amercian people (A.K.A the President) should withold from using drones to eliminate the threat ? Because the US and Afganistan failed to achieve a “contuctive relationship” (i dont know how exactly you can achieve such a thing with Afganistan, little on with any Arab/Muslim country which is not completely secular)?

    1. If the U.S. had a fully constructive relationship with Muslim countries and wasn’t blasting the hell out of Muslims in Yemen and Pakistan, and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, there would be far fewer Islamists trying to kill us.

      Of course you don’t know how to achieve a constructive relationship with Afghanistan. All you have to judge this matter is Israel’s “constructive” relationship with all its neighbors.

  6. Excellent piece, by M Sahimi and Richard, Why the two year wait though? The Guardian is one of the world’s most influential media network, if not the most.

    Obama seems to be a fan of drone warefare. The puzzling this is, even with the economic downturn in the USA, not many Americans’ are questioning the huge military budget. It seems to be the elephant in the room.

    Why is 60% of the budget spent on the military, when people are living in abject poverty? The 98% seem to be content with the status quo.

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