Back in 2011, not long after Barack Obama had been sworn in as president of the United States, a Pentagon spokesperson warned that henceforth and forevermore, the United States intended to treat cyber-attacks by other nations as acts of war.
“A response to a cyber-incident or attack on the U.S. would not necessarily be a cyber-response,” Col. Dave Lapan told reporters in Washington, D.C.
“All appropriate options would be on the table,” he said, making it clear that appropriate was a term defined broadly enough to include military attacks.
“Cyber-attacks from foreign nations that threaten widespread U.S. civilian casualties, like cutting off power supplies or shutting down emergency-responder networks, could be treated as an act of aggression under the new policy,” the BBC explained. (Emphasis added.)
A few days earlier, when the Obama White House had announced the policy, the Wall Street Journal quoted a belligerent American military official as saying, “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”
It hardly matters that a few reports of those nine-year-old comments still linger on the Internet, the great republic to our south is, as the American novelist and wit Gore Vidal famously observed, the United States of Amnesia.
Nevertheless, since other major powers may very well have a similar attitude to such activities, it was troubling in the extreme to…