Super Powers go to War! (Cyber War)

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Mar 18th


The Guardian reports that the world’s biggest super powers China and the US have engaged in Cyber Wars on two separate occasions in 2011. The goal was to ensure that each country understood the capability of the other, in a bid to prevent military escalation between the two countries if either felt they were being targeted.

The war games were organised through Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and a Beijing think-tank, the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations under a concept known as “Track 1.5” diplomacy.

Track 2 diplomacy engages retired government and military officials, academics, activists, civil society members and individuals involved in the private sector and business to tackle specific issues that cannot be adequately addressed at the government-to-government level.

Track 1 diplomacy is the formal diplomacy that engages government officials to resolve conflicts between states.

Track 1.5 diplomacy is a term used by the East West Institute, another Washington Think Tank, Says to explain its combined use of Track 1 and Track 2 diplomacy. The East West Institute will often bring together government officials with the private sector, academics and civil society to devise new solutions to pressing global security issues, such as Cyber Warfare.

It is essentially an arbitration process at a non political level for the super powers. In the games the sides were posed with the question of what would you do if you were attacked by a sophisticated Virus, read, likely to be state sponsored created Virus, like Stuxnet.

In the second games, they were posed with the question, what would you do if you found out the other outside was in fact the state sponsor of the attack.

The challenge with this type of war games is both sides are likely to be guarded. There is certainly mutual benefit in understanding the other sides reactions, but by giving away too much information you risk the other side being better prepared in the event of an attack.

You do want the other side to understand your reactions to an attack, so in the event a super power comes under attack you understand the steps they are taking to minimise the fall out, that is to say what is the other sides “clean up response”. If the other side suddenly disables all internet access in to and out of the country, or redirects all web requests to internal servers you want to know that this is standard operating procedure for their “clean up response” and not a retaliatory response against your country.

Certainty the first war game would achieve this goal, the second war game however was less thought through.

The goal of the second war game was to understand how you would react to the attack, given that you were certain it was the other guy. Obviously it would be useful to understand what a retaliatory response from the other side would look like, you know, so you can distinguish it from a “clean up response”, certainly a worthy goal. However, who is really going to hand the “enemy” the plans on how they would attack you if you attacked them first?

The Chinese are a suspicious lot, especially against its imperial oppressors. If you want to understand the Chinese attitude to the west you need to visit the Taiwanese National Museum, specifically the section that contains the “contracts” that the West agreed with the Chinese over the last few hundred years.

You will see examples of China signing away all of the mineral rights to the Spanish in large parts of the northern Chinese empire, or the British and Americans signing just as advantageous, advantageous to the Westerners at least, contracts. When you read through these contracts, some of them binding for a hundred years, you can understand why the Chinese are not Home great fans of the west and feel they were treated very unfairly. Some of the contracts were tantamount to a Master Slave relationship, where the contract essentially stated that what is yours is now mine.

If you got the bad end of a contract, and had it binding for a hundred years, how would you feel about dealing with the other side once you are finally free of the contractual restraints? Or even better what if now the tide was turning towards you and you and the other side was a dying empire and you were now heading towards the master status?

Not being Chinese or American, I can understand both sides of the coin, but what started as Cyber War games has a much deeper root that needs to be address if both sides are going to make progress.

Trust me when I say comments from the Americans like “We want to find ways to change their behaviour” in reference to the Chinese, is not going to go down well with the previous “slaves”.

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