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Cyber warfare

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    Posted: January 31 2019 at 7:06pm
A blitzkrieg reborn: Weaponizing cyberspace

In May 1940, a nation that recently lost a devastating war unleashed a new kind of warfare on a nation that had defeated it, crushing its once-formidable foe in a fortnight. The victor, Germany, reinvented its army in the years leading up to that assault, while the foe – France– descended into dysfunction,the result of self-inflicted wounds and decades of endless crises. Its political leaders squabbled among themselves, while its military clung to antiquated notions that once served in victory but lacked the imagination to deal with an evolving martial landscape.

The French historian Marc Bloch – executed by the Gestapo in 1944 – summed up his nation’s catastrophe by drawing a distinction between how the two sides viewed the concept of distance. France, confident in its ability to re-stage World War I, had ignored advances in science and technology and still measured distance in terms of miles. Germany, having embraced innovation, gauged distance in terms of speed.

The distinction did not favor France.

In recently reading Bloch’s 1940 book “Strange Defeat,” I was struck by a rarely noted parallel between that era and our own. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it lends perspective to America’s current mess.

Germany never accepted defeat after World War I, and it used the next 22 years tore-imagine the internal-combustion engine into a series of devastating weapons, and then to deploy those weapons in combinations never before seen on the field of battle. At the same time, its leaders undermined domestic democratic institutions to solidify power. Their motive was simple: revenge.

I fear a similar dynamic is at work in 2019.

And California, especially its Silicon Valley-based tech sector, played a significant role by developing the weapons of war.

Nearly 30 years ago, a diminished Russia emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union, thus ending decades of “Cold War.” It was a seminal victory for the West, choreographed by the United States with tenacity, resourcefulness and the blunt force of a universal ideal – that a well-informed people should have the freedom to choose how they are governed and to hold their government accountable. Embryonic democracies subsequently emerged in what had been Soviet satellites.

Democracy never had much of chance in Russia, with its long history of totalitarian rule. And like Germany, I don’t believe Russia ever accepted defeat in the Cold War. As a nation, it harbored a smoldering resolve to get even with the West, and it found its champion in Vladimir Putin – an autocrat who, like Hitler, undermined domestic democratic institutions and who, like Leon Trotsky, encouraged upheaval everywhere. If even half the evidence afoot today proves accurate, Putin’s government has committed acts of war against the West by mounting a modern blitzkrieg, arming his troops with advanced cyber weapons stamped “made in California.”

Russia’s battle plan: deploy those weapons to conduct coordinated and relentless raids ondemocratic traditions.As with France after World War I, the West has been impaired by chronic political strife and factionalism, by internal mistrust, and by waning faith in established principles and institutions.How easy it has been to undermine both principles and institutions by aiming social media at the nation’s festering internal tensions.

Whether the president actively colluded with Russia, was blackmailed by them or merely is a moronic dupe, overwhelming evidence points to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Look at Britain and the U.S.During the past few years, both nations have been fraught with internal discord, bringing each to the brink of political paralysis. Britain’s simmering issue is Brexit, and there is growing evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 referendum that took the U.K. out of the European Union. According to the Daily Telegraph, more than 150,000 Russian-linked Twitter accounts bombarded Britain in the weeks leading up to the referendum, urging voters to approve Brexit. Newsweek reported that official Russian coverage of the Brexit campaign was heavily biased in favor of leaving the EU. Now, Britain’s National Crime Agency is investigating financial ties between Russia and pro-Brexit leaders.

It’s all circumstantial smoke at this point but sufficient to warrant a serious probe. Did Russia stoke the Brexit fire to promote civil and political dysfunction in Britain and goad the British government into a Gordian quarrel with the EU? That certainly is the result as the UK and EU struggle to resolve a near-impossible divorce. Meanwhile, the British government has descended into paralysis, and its dispute with the EU threatens to undermine nearly every significant Western alliance. Darkest hour, indeed.

And then, there is Russia’s war on the United States. The details of this campaign – centerpiece of the Mueller probe – have been reported ad nauseam. Whether the president actively colluded with Russia, was blackmailed by them or merely is a moronic dupe, overwhelming evidence points to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, with the express goal of electing Donald Trump.

Trump’s America would be Putin’s Vichy: a vassal state that lost its bearings, an internal chaos farm bereft of ideals and saddled with a malignant leadership. An echo of Hitler and Putin, Trump systematically attacks the foundations of our national identity and security, from equal branches of government, to respect for and confidence in traditional journalism, to relationships with overseas allies, to judicial independence, to cultural and ethnic diversity, to confidence in the agencies that guarantee our safety. He sows distrust and hate among Americans over a variety of issues and may yet destroy NATO – an enduring bulwark against Russian expansionism in Europe.

Is this echo of 1940 a coincidence?

In the 1930s, France invested in an illusion; it built a wall. The Maginot Line was a series of concrete fortifications, as stunning for its lack of imagination as for the folly of its cost. A political frenzy mobilized efforts to fund and construct that wall, sold to a fearful population as the ultimate protection against another German crisis. It bristled with artillery and housed the elite soul of the French Army. And, it pointed east – at the threat, Germany. When the Germans finally bothered to seize it, they came from the west.

The Maginot Line failed because France sought to protect itself with a moldy strategy no longer in accord with modern circumstances or relevant to the nation’s actual crises.

Today, in this nation, the actual crisis cannot be fixed by a border wall because the crisis doesn’t exist on the border. It exists in computer servers and enormous, California-based social-media empires so easily manipulated and so easily hacked. More significantly, it exists in the corrosion of principles that define what it means to be an American – ideals at the point end of a blitzkrieg from a foreign enemy every bit as committed to revenge as was Hitler’s Germany.

2019 is 1940 is 2019, as the battle rages around us.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill’s warning in June 1940, we must not continue to tie past to present so that the future is lost.

Editor’s Note: A.G. Block is a freelance writer in Sacramento and former editor of the California Journal. He is a member of the governing board of Open California, the nonprofit publisher of Capitol Weekly.
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carbon20 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 31 2019 at 9:27pm
Chump always goes on about people's heritage....

Let's us all never forget where he gets his genes from.....

12 Monkeys...............
1995 ‧ Science fiction film/Thriller ‧ 2h 11m a must for AFT
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