Cyber Warfare Treaty: DOA, Thanks to President and Pentagon

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Henning Wagenbreth for the New York Times

Misha Glenny making a smart case in the New York Times for a cyber arms control treaty, but it won’t happen.


For the same reason why the U.S. has refused – for many years now – to engage other great powers on a treaty banning space weaponry: our Pentagon wants to dominate that imagine conflict space like any other. This fantasy lives on despite the great private-sector forays into space transport and travel.

The lines have already been drawn in the defense budget by the Pentagon and this Administration:

— Cyber has been declared – in leaked headline after leaked headline – the latest and greatest future warfare domain.

— We recently got our new Cyber Command (after a blitzkrieg of Bush-like fear-mongering news stories – also leaked to the press).

— Finally, there’s our recently unveiled national cyber warfare strategy (which, absurdly enough, provides a rationale for Iran to go kinetic on us after Stuxnet and Flame).

Per the reality of our budgetary woes and the Pentagon’s inability to control spiraling personnel costs (healthcare, pensions), the U.S. military needs to be able to cut bodies while adding capabilities . . . in space and cyber warfare.

Yes, our efforts in both instances will tremendously widen the opportunities for great-power war in the 21st Century, making us — arguably — the most dangerous great power on the planet.

Best part: we’re being sold this misguided nonsense by a President whose public line is a “world without nuclear weapons.”

Does it have to be this way?  Of course not.

We can partner with China and India – two rising great powers with million-man armies – to deal with the world’s remaining security concerns, which are overwhelmingly concentrated along globalization’s rapidly moving frontier. Neither space nor cyber are particularly essential to that path.  Settling the frontier matches Woody Allen’s definition of a success: 80% is accomplished simply by showing up.

But we have chosen a different path: to monger warfare in the cyber and space realms because those domains represent our best chances to maintain our capacity for waging decisive conflict unilaterally.

Whatever Obama sells you about forging a different foreign policy path from Bush, he is flat-out conning us all.

The primacy argument is alive and well in Washington.

And no, this election promises no change whatsoever.  Check out Mitt Romney’s foreign policy advisors: they are complete Bush-Cheney retreads.

Our public is right to be completely dismayed with our national political leadership. We are being led nowhere good by nobody honest.