Monday, April 18, 2005

U.S. Military's Elite Hacker Crew

I'm trying to make up my mind whether the possibilities of cyberwar bring any new things to bear in principle on debates about peacemaking -or is it simply yet another dimension that we need to be aware of but doesn't make a heap of difference.
It's interesting to note how this article majors on the military-military capabilities: the potential to disrupt an enemies electronic command and control systems. Thre's only one mention of the much more sinister possibility of disrupting something like a national electricity grid. Once that happens then you're into targetting civilians and that is an eventuality clearly covered by international law in spirit though whether it covers it in the letter, I don't know.
The attraction to governments is that war can be waged with less face-to-face commitment and plays to the strengths of the rich technologically savvy nations -an 'advantage' which will be quickly eroded. In any case the weapons used could be quite tricky. A specially engineered computer virus is potentially something that, like a real virus, could come back at you, perhpas in a modified form.
Some of what the article talks about represents a kind of merging of warfare and propaganda where the ethics of pacifism do, it seems to me, seem less clear; no-one is being harmed, it's just ideas and disemination of ideas. There are issues about free speech and how we conduct global debate but that's a bigger theme than pacifism.
I'd be interested to hear thought from others abut peacemaking in a cyberwar world.
Wired News: U.S. Military's Elite Hacker Crew

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