We've Crossed the Cyberarms Rubicon

No one knows exactly where the Rubicon was flowing through when Julius Ceasar commanded his troops to cross its waters, thereby passing the point of no return. The flow of the river has changed in the many centuries since; many things have. War in Ancient Roman times was a much more technologically simpler affair, but now war is a technologically easier affair to wage.

And with that ease, the Pentagon has declared that a cyberattack is tantamount to an act of war. If Iran were to, for example, design a computer virus that disrupts US air traffic or the electrical grid, the US would be justified in launching missiles and sending in the boots. If we operate along the same lines of Pentagon thought as to what constitutes a declaration of war, hasn't the United States by its own definition already declared war on Iran?

The New York Times reported that the Pentagon developed a virus that caused Iranian nuclear centrifuges to spin out of control and self-destruct. The virus, Stuxnet, was developed jointly by the NSA and Israel's Unit 8200. However, the Israelis inserted extra code that resulted in the virus escaping its original parameters and attacking computers around the world. Vice-president Joe Biden angrily quipped: "It's got to be the Israelis. They went too far!"

And, yes, I agree that the Israelis went too far, but they are a small state working with the superpower's National Security Agency. Before Obama took office, he met with then president Bush who asked him to continue two classified programs: the drone program and the cyberweapons program. Obama not only complied, he expanded exponentially. Obama has gone too far; he has forced other states to launch their own cyberweapons programs.

The recent attacks against the New York Times are just the beginning. The next American war could very well come because Iran or China feel justified in developing a computer virus that disrupts America's air traffic or brings down its power grid. President Ahmajinehad himself stated on Iranian television that "the enemy" had already declared economic war. What Ahmajinehad failed to mention, however, was that "the enemy" has already declared a cyberwar, and that Iran has started its own cyberweapons unit in retaliation. There is no shortage of computer talent in Iran, I can guarantee you that.