In the past twenty-four hours, United States intelligence officials definitively confirmed that the recent cyberattacks against Sony Pictures Studios and the concomitant threats to terrorize movie theaters showing its film, “The Interview,” are indeed the work of North Korean state actors. Sony, of course, canceled the global release of “The Interview,” which threatens to ex ante effectuate some of the most outright perverse incentives in geopolitics that we’ve seen since the TARP bailout. Let us not mince words about North Korea: this is casus belli — a provocative act of war. It is not mere rhetorical bluster by the despotic apparatchiks in Pyongyang. This is unequivocally an act of 21st-century state-sponsored cyberwarfare and, indeed, state-sponsored terrorism. Unnervingly, there is not much precedent for these sorts of attacks, and we are utterly clueless in how to respond. Abe Greenwald, over at Commentary’s online blog, observes that
This isn’t a gossip story or an industry problem. It’s war. Moreover, it’s a war we don’t know how to fight. In 2011, the U.S. military declared cyberattacks tantamount to acts of war and therefore liable to military response. But that statement concerned cyberattacks on our government or infastructure. We now have rogue regimes going after American citizens and corporations. There’s nothing on the books for that. There’s been talk of “hacking back” among corporate victims, but that’s a reckless and probably illegal option. There needs to be fresh strategic thinking about this, and fast. We’re catching up to a challenge that’s already out of control.
What is particularly unnerving about all of this is that we are forced to learn how to deal with 21st-century cyberwarfare whilst we suffer the indignity of our benighted serial appeaser in the White House — a “mom jeans“-wearing sycophant to all the world’s worst actors whose love of apologizing for America’s ostensible sins at times frankly appears to outweigh his sincere desire to protect the homeland. Indeed, this whole tragic saga has not-all-too-coincidentally overlapped with the latest emasculating embarrassment by the “Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy doctrine” (to borrow from [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]’s politically ingenious label) of isolating allies and kowtowing to enemy tyrants: the “naive” attempt at rapprochement with the evil, anti-human dignity, terrorism-supporting Castro regime 90 miles off the Floridian coast. While I personally look forward to being able to purchase Cohiba cigars, the eschewing of principle for the misbegotten pursuit of some “Nixon goes to China” legacy-cementing moment is utterly lamentable.
You really cannot make this stuff up; Barack Obama continually proves true the old adage that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction. It does not have to be this way. As my friend Professor Kevin Gutzman of Western Connecticut State University noted yesterday on Facebook, with respect to the North Korea terrorism: “Reagan would sink their entire navy in an afternoon and then show the movie in the White House cinema.” Well said, Professor. But no, today, Obama’s dangerous solidification of a national culture of appeasement has coincided with the metastasizing of Hollywood’s self-induced institutional castration. Following Sony’s capitulation yesterday to the North Koreans, it got even worse today. The proudly defiant Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, down in the great State of Texas, had planned to show in lieu of “The Interview” the 2004 Kim Jong-il belittling parody film, “Team America: World Police.” And yet news soon broke that the dolts at Paramount Pictures — the studio behind “Team America” — quickly decided to ban all subsequent showings of “Team America” in American cinemas.
Yesterday, the United States conceded defeat to the brutal Castro regime; today, state-sponsored North Korea terrorists have outright defeated the United States in a 21st-century cyberwar. It is nearly impossible to envision any scenario whatsoever in which Barack Obama decides to respond to this casus belli. Tit-for-tat cyberwarfare upon North Korean private actors intuitively strikes us as being beneath our dignity, Pyongyang has a nuclear arsenal aimed squarely at our treaty-sworn ally South Korea, and in any event the White House and Foggy Bottom would probably rather go try to find a new dictatorship to whom we can unilaterally surrender. A Stuxnet-style cyber assault upon North Korean state infrastructure would seem the most logical response, but many observers seem to believe Israel was actually the leader in the covert Stuxnet operation upon Iranian nuclear facilities. Furthermore, North Korea is geopolitically tricky for a response of this nature in crucial ways that Iran was not; besides having a nuclear stockpile of its own, North Korea has as a benefactor the region’s singularly massive superpower (China), whereas Iran’s external militance is to at least some degree limited by the mitigating forces of both Israel and the Saudi-led Sunni Gulf States. Such deterrents as these would hardly intimidate an American leader with conviction and firm resolve, but alas we are not so currently blessed.
God willing, Hollywood’s feckless obsequiousness and the Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy doctrine of “leading from behind” will not cost us any more than they already have. Perhaps we will even earnestly strive to take Abe Greenwald’s advice about developing a coherent strategy of countering cyberwarfare. But the damage to America’s national security interests and global standing is real, and We the People are increasingly powerless to stop this unhinged presidential ideologue, acting with the full support of a complicit Hollywood. This is a sad two-day stretch for the United States of America.