On December 7th, 1941, the world was shocked to hear of Japan’s surprise attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The attack, which claimed the lives of over 2,300 Americans and injured another 1,100, was seen as cowardly by many, especially considering negotiations between the US and Japan were continuing while Japan’s carriers were sailing towards the Hawaiian Islands.
In 1998, Al Qaeda launched a bombing attack against three American Embassies in Africa, killing over 200 and wounding more. The bombings destroyed the embassies and eliminated the US’s ability to help many in these struggling nations. Despite this attack (and Clinton’s chance to get some of the masterminds), the US did next to nothing.
The morning of September 11th, 2001, is unforgettable to many as we all sat glued to our televisions, teary-eyed, as we watched the attacks unfold in real-time, from the additional crashes after Flight 11 slammed into the top of the North WTC Tower. We watched as America, which seemed invulnerable to foreign attacks, suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks in the country’s history. Yet, just a few months later, we were taking action against those that harbored the people who perpetrated that horrible act.
While the majority of the time we view attacks with human casualties as more severe than those without, little thought is given to the future implications of many attacks on US interests, most importantly, cyberattacks perpetrated against the United States. Over the course of the last two decades, cyberattacks on the United States have increased in both frequency and severity, while the US has failed to respond to many of these attacks.
In 2008 and 2009, the Defense Department and other military computer systems were hacked, allowing for the extraction of data and information regarding classified missions and projects. Among that data was information regarding the development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The development of the F-35 JSF took the US 40 years of planning and technological research to reach the point where they were prepared to produce the next generation fighter. Meanwhile, the Chinese were able to catch up on the majority of that research and development, pretty much overnight. Considering that the F-35 would never be sold to countries like Pakistan, North Korea, or Iran, the poor man’s F-35, the J-31 may. Presumably, this means that stolen US Technology could be used to kill Americans by the thousands. Yet, despite this truth, there was no action taken by the US in retaliation for this attack and theft of American property.
During and immediately following the 2016 Election, the left wanted to believe that the Russians were behind some wholesale hacking of our election system. Despite the copious amounts of evidence to the contrary, the left used language like “act of war” and “attack on our democracy” to highlight this presumed attack. Yet, when actual evidence of Iranian efforts to “hack” our elections through spoofed emails to Florida voters came to light, Democrats were silent. Regardless of the enemy that was attempting to perpetrate these attacks, there was still no action taken.
Even as recently this year, a cyberattack on a Florida-area water treatment facility briefly increased the amount of a deadly chemical in the water supply to a level 100 times above its normal safe levels. Though the issue was quickly identified by an engineer at the facility, it doesn’t change the fact that a foreign entity hacked US interests with the intent to injure or kill US citizens. It was a literal act of war, and to date, it is only presumed that Iran was the perpetrator. What does the Biden Administration do? They propose entering back into a treaty with the alleged perpetrator.
Now, we have the Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack, which has sent the energy sector on the East Coast into complete chaos. There have been huge lines for gas and the Department of Transportation has suspended trucking regulations to allow for the expanded transportation of oil and fuel. Though it happens to be late spring, an attack like this during the winter could have proved deadly as it could have prevented the delivery of heating oil and gas to customers in dire need. As of today, we have been given the nebulous answer that “the Russians” are behind the attack, but no word on how the Biden Administration plans on responding.
Let’s be honest about what these cyberattacks are: Acts of War. Conventional warfare, which would be fought with soldiers, guns, planes, tanks, submarines, and/or bombs, is being replaced by much more nefarious attacks. Cyberwarfare and Biowarfare are the future of conflict. If Country A attacks Country B with conventional warfare, any future occupation would require a rebuild first, as conventional warfare inevitably destroys infrastructure. Meanwhile, the newer forms of warfare can eliminate a human population while maintaining the infrastructure.
What if it is a state-sponsored or a government organization? Does that not require that we respond or retaliate? Are we supposed to just allow countries to attack us with no consequences? Yet, that has been what we have done to date.
I have long been an advocate of a “Rand Paul Style” of foreign policy. This means that we avoid war at all costs, never act as the world’s police force, and let foreign conflicts be just that… foreign. Yet, with the isolationist style of foreign policy comes a stark warning: If you come at us, we will bury you. This should be the warning to all state-sponsored and governmental organization sourced cyberattacks on the United States. You’re more than welcome to have among the best of relationships with us and we will respect your sovereignty. However, if you or your people do anything to harm or otherwise attack American interests, we will respond in kind.
Some say that these attacks may not be perpetrated by any “state-sponsored” or governmental organizations, therefore there’s no way to retaliate against those responsible. We know that to not be true as we literally invaded another country that was harboring terrorists. The entire War in Afghanistan was us tracking down those responsible for an attack, that were non-state actors. We ignored another country’s sovereignty to get Bin Laden. We don’t hesitate to act against non-state actors when it comes to national security. Am I advocating for a ground war? Absolutely not, but a well-placed cruise missile and drone strike could serve the same purpose. A small team of cyber forensics experts could give you a street address to deliver it, or allow for local authorities to perform an arrest.
Needless to say, we are not doing enough to combat Cyberterrorism and Cyberattacks perpetrated against the United States. It is time to stop trivializing what these attacks are: An act of war. Until we begin to let these enemies know that we mean business, we will continue to be attacked regularly.