What Has Publicly Blaming Cyber Attacks on Governments Solved? • Foreign Policy Journal

Source: Original Article

Written by: Emilio Iasiello

Blaming cyber attacks on governments has become routine, but has it resulted in accountability, punishment, or reduction in hostile cyber activities?

In the ongoing cyber tete-a-tete between nation states, the digital domain has been used to conduct an array of operations including network exploitation, data theft, network disruption, and network destruction. Additionally, states have used the cyber domain and the tools therein (e.g., social media, chat rooms, bulletin boards, blogs) to enable other more traditional operations of statecraft such as propaganda, disinformation, and social/political influence operations. Long considered difficult to attribute, governments are more confident in publicly identifying the states they believe are responsible for covert cyber activities against them. In an effort to strengthen such claims, levying legal indictments against the individuals responsible—often foreign nationals with a direct tie to a government or a military—has become popular. The United States in particular has engaged in this practice, executing indictments for cyber activities since 2014 against state actors with direct or tangential ties to foreign governments.

The tactic seemed practical at first, bringing formal charges against suspected government actors, and by extension, implicating that government for supporting, or at least, giving tacit approval of, the activities. The May 2014 indictment against five actors tied to the People’s Liberation Army appears to have had direct influence in China and the United States agreeing not to not to hack each other for commercial advantage in 2015. For a brief period after, this seemed to work with a noticeable reduction in the volume of Chinese theft of intellectual property. However, this was short lived with China allegedly resuming normal level of cyber operations in 2018.

Still, proponents of the indictment strategy have pointed out that an important gain was made—persuading China to curb its previous levels of data theft; in essence, the indictment appeared to have influenced a state’s cyber behavior. While it did not last, it could be argued that even the momentary success suggested that the approach was viable and just needed adjustment for to accomplish strategic deterrence. After all, shortly after the 2014 China-U.S. agreement was made, China entered into similar understanding with Russia in 2015, and ultimately led the G20 (including China) to make a comparable arrangement in November 2015. Many G20 nations were among those that China had also targeted via its global cyber espionage and intellectual property theft operations.

Unsurprisingly, these agreements have not deterred commercial cyber theft, nor more traditional cyber espionage activities, particularly from China that likely views industrial cyber theft a national security imperative for the country’s continued economic development. As long as China sees economic strength as essential to its emergence as a global leader, supporting Chinese companies that are important to accomplishing this goal could be perceived as less about commercial advantage and more about preserving its national interests. This is an important nuance to keep in mind when understanding why China continues to do what it does. Countries finally began to see the futility in trying to make certain countries like China honor these agreements in 2019 when 27 governments signed a joint statement to advance responsible state behavior in cyberspace. Notably, neither China nor Russia were signatories.

Where diplomatic overtures have thus failed, the U.S. has resorted to indictments and has since levied them against official and non-official actors linked to Iran, North Korea, and Russia. As of this writing, these indictments have not yielded the obvious objective—state deterrence from conducting the crimes for which they have been charged. However, this raises the hopeful question—if deterrence wasn’t the primary objective, have indictments achieved what was truly intended? Certainly, indictments could be foils used to further other U.S. political or economic objectives. If so, their influence may not be readily seen as instrumental to achieving seemingly unrelated strategic goals.

Another likely objective is to get on record that a particular government is responsible for illicit cyber activity, thereby letting the world know of its culpability. This seems to be closer to the mark. Prior to May 2014, attribution made in public was mostly accusatory and based on speculation and suspicion, or at least without providing classified evidence to strengthen claims. Indictments have since changed that paradigm, purposefully made for global consumption and to make it clear who the charging state believes to be behind a specific incident. Since there is little hope that any of these individuals will be extradited to the United States, indictments seem less about arrest and prosecution and more about demonstrating capability to identify culprits by detailing their operations. Simply, punishment does not appear to be the primary motive.

Other states have now joined the public attribution bandwagon. In March 2020, Chinese computer security company Qihoo 360 reported that the CIA had been conducting an 11-year cyber espionage campaign against Chinese organizations and in April identified South Korean cyber espionage activity targeting Chinese health organizations for COVID-19 information. Qihoo 360 works closely with the Chinese government, which has prompted concerns with companies like Microsoft collaborating with the company. Although not an official arm of the Chinese government, its stature as a global cyber security leader and a primary supplier of security and monitoring equipment to the People’s Republic of China raises the question of how the company could be used as the voice for leadership. Iran, too, is no stranger to calling out perpetrators of cyber attacks, citing the United States and Israel for various cyber attacks. Even North Korea blamed the United States for knocking it off the Internet, after the former had accused North Korean hackers of attacking Sony in November 2014.

It remains to be seen if or when other foreign governments will step up to the next level and levy cyber indictments against other countries. It is likely that they will wait and see how the United States fares with this approach and if any favorable results are realized. The recent removal of two Russian companies from indictment set forth by special counsel Robert Mueller illustrates a potential impediment to indictment strategy, further raising the question of its effectiveness at deterring future cyber incidents by state and/or state-related entities. One of the companies challenged the charges, hiring a law firm to defend it, marking the first time a defendant has been willing to go to court on a cyber-related indictment. The potential threat of exposing classified information was one reason provided for this result. The fact that the charges were dropped may encourage other indicted individuals and entities to follow suit, potentially derailing the strategy, reducing it to an exercise in making formal attribution.

Cyber operations were once clandestine and mysterious; now, states are emboldened to pull back the curtain and sanitize them in the public spotlight. What remains consistent for now is that public attribution—whether via accusation, indictment, or naming and shaming—has done little to change state behavior, decrease volume of activity, or deter future activity. It’s clear that any one approach—whether it be a legal action, economic influence, a retaliatory strike, or diplomatic engagement—is not a silver bullet, and should not be done independently of each other if any progress is to be made in how cyber space is used for and against states. They must be done in concert and in proportion to the inciting incident, and with a quantifiable, reachable, goal in mind. Absent that, the stakes are not high enough to incite the change that’s often talked about but never done. Perhaps states should consider the fable of the shepherd boy who called wolf before making public attribution. Calling wolf frequently does not get the volume of support to stop the threat; rather, it numbs ears so that they don’t listen and ignore signs that that pack is closing in.

Lebanon Is Under Maximum Pressure, and the Target Is Hezbollah: Iran Sends Its Support • Katehon

Lebanon is under unprecedented economic and social pressure, paying the price for Hezbollah’s military capability that causes a threat to “Israel”. The options offered by those (US, EU and “Israel”) effectively participating in cornering Lebanon -notwithstanding decades of domestic corruption and mismanagement – are limited to two: either disarm Hezbollah or push Lebanon toward a failed state and civil war. However, the “Axis of the Resistance” has other options: Iran has responded to the request of Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah by regularly sending to Lebanon food supplies and medicine. It is now sending oil tankers, which are expected to reach the country in the coming weeks via the Syrian port of Tartous. Iran is rushing to support one of its strongest allies in the “Axis of the Resistance”, Hezbollah, which is suffering severe domestic pressure, as are the entire Resistance Axis members in their respective countries. Hezbollah’s supporters of all persuasions are affected by the acute socio-economic crisis. But will Hezbollah succeed in overcoming the inevitable result of the current long-term crisis? How serious are the challenges?

In one of his private meetings, Sayed Nasrallah said: “Israel considered that Hezbollah’s military capability constituted a “vexing danger” at the first years of its existence. The level of danger moved up to “challenge” in 2000 when “Israel” withdrew from Lebanon, to the “serious menace” level after the 2006 war, and to “existential danger” after the wars in Syria and Iraq.”

In line with what the Secretary-General of Hezbollah believes, it is common knowledge that “Israel” possesses nuclear weapons. Therefore, no other power in the Middle East can be considered an “existential threat” to “Israel”. However, according to the Israeli military leadership, Hezbollah possesses accurate missiles carrying hundreds of kilograms of explosives each. Thus, Hezbollah needs only ten missiles – not hundreds – to hit 6 electric stations and 4 water desalination plants over the entire geography to render life impossible for a vast number of Israelis. The Israeli leadership stated that there is no need to count the precision missiles that could hit any oil platform, ship or harbour and destroy any airport control tower in any future war.

Consequently, there will be not many Israelis willing to stay, and it is conceivable to believe that a considerable number of Israelis would leave. This scenario constitutes an existential threat to “Israel”, indeed. In this case, as the military command says, “Israel” will never be able to coexist with such an existential threat looming over its head generated from the other side of the Lebanese border. Hezbollah possesses hundreds of precision missiles spread over a wide area in Lebanon, Syria, and mainly along the fortified eastern mountainside that offer ideal protection for these missiles. So what are “Israel’s” options?

Following the failure to subdue Hezbollah in 2006 in the 3rd war, the victory of the “Axis of Resistance” in the Syrian conflict, the prevention of the division of Iraq and the fall of Yemen under Saudi Arabia’s control, the area of ​​influence of the Resistance Axis expanded, as well as its theatre of operations. Consequently, the danger to “Israel”, to the US’s goals and hegemony in West Asia, significantly increased.

The nuclear dossier is not that far away from the threat the “Axis of the Resistance” is confronted with. By increasing its nuclear capability, Iran forced President Joe Biden to put the nuclear negotiation at the top of its agenda during (former) President Hassan Rouhani’s mandate. Whatever has been said about the possibility of future progress in the nuclear talks in Vienna, lifting sanctions on Iran – while Iraq is labouring under heavy financial debt, Syria is subjected to a severe economic blockade, and Lebanon faces a becoming degraded state -seems unrealistic to the US.

To the west and “Israel”, releasing Iran’s frozen funds – which exceed $110 billion – at a time of maximum financial pressure and heavy sanctions, is not logical. Moreover, allowing Iran to sell and export its oil and lifting the maximum pressure means that all the previous US efforts to curb Iran’s will and progress are due to fail just when the results of these sanctions are turning in favour of the US in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Consequently, maintaining economic pressure on the “Axis of Resistance” has become a US necessity and strategy. With this in mind, the US failed to comply with the nuclear agreement, to improve the leverage of the US negotiator and impose its conditions over Iran to include, above all, its relationship with its allies and the maintenance of hundreds of sanctions in place.

With the arrival of President Ibrahim Raisi to power and his plans to give little time for the nuclear negotiation, the US sees itself faced with two very bitter choices: either allowing Iran to become a nuclear power or removing all sanctions so as to persuade Iran to delay its entire nuclear capability. Both decisions are impossible choices and inconvenient for the US administration. Thus, the US needs to hit Iran’s allies without negotiating with Tehran, because it refuses to include it – as well as Iran’s missile program – in any nuclear talks.

Suppose the maximum pressure on Lebanon fails to weaken Hezbollah. In that case, Washington needs to evaluate future steps to choose between the nuclear threat or the “Axis of the Resistance” threat to “Israel”. And if the US opts for the 2015 nuclear agreement –which is unlikely – then “the Axis of Resistance” will experience a strong revival, recovering from the extreme US pressure. Whatever America’s choice is, it has become more than evident that Iran will eventually become a nuclear power and offer more than adequate support to its allies to keep them strong enough to face whatever challenges.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah cannot provide and has no intention of replacing the services provided by the state. Nevertheless, it is involved in the food supply through “al-Sajjad” cards delivered to families needing to buy food at a sharply reduced price, which raised the number from 150 000 to 200 000. It is supporting thousands of families who have reached the level of extreme poverty. Moreover, Hezbollah brought medication from Iran (more than 500 types) to cover some of the country’s needs when pharmacies are closing their doors and lacking essential medical supplies.

Furthermore, in the coming weeks, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah have agreed on delivering Iranian oil to Lebanon. Hezbollah will receive the gasoline from the supply to its forces and for covering its daily movements. Hospitals are at the top of the list of those expected to receive the Iranian oil distributed by Hezbollah to prevent their shutting down. Many hospitals closed more than half of their departments. Other medical facilities transferred their patients to hospitals that still have fuel to generate electricity for the next few days. In various parts of Lebanon, hospitals are asking many patients to leave due to the lack of diesel fuel for electricity. The American University of Beirut Medical Centre stopped ventilators and other lifesaving medical devices for the lack of fuel oil.

Also, Hezbollah is expected to deliver Iranian oil to the owners of tens of thousands of private electric generators. The lack of electricity in the country boosted the presence of thousands of privately-owned generators who, for decades, offer their paid services to compensate for the lack of electricity. These are expected to benefit from the oil delivered by Hezbollah to secure electric power supply for people. The shortage of diesel fuel for the owners of generators reached a critical degree in the current hot summer, raising the level of discontent among the population.

Also, diesel fuel will be provided to some municipalities to secure waste removal from the streets for fear of the spread of disease. Al-Amanah Company is also expected to distribute the Iranian oil and diesel to dozens of stations approved by it and other local gasoline stations spread throughout the Lebanese territory.

But Hezbollah will not satisfy everyone in the country and is not able to prevent internal deterioration within the Shia society (-the majority of Shia stand with Hezbollah, but there are others in the Amal movement under the control of Speaker Nabih Berri and not Hezbollah) in the first place and among its allies in the second place. The social decline is at a peak, and Iran’s support is insufficient unless Iran fully achieves its own recovery – if sanctions are fully lifted – and its domestic economy recovers. As far as it concerns Iran, the consent to its allies is mandatory because the “Axis of the Resistance” is united and all share the same vocation.

However, it is not in Iran’s capability to take on the entire burden of Syria and Lebanon’s economy. Iran supported Syria financially throughout the decade of war but is in no position to finance all the needs of the state. Also, Hezbollah started as a popular resistance force against the Israeli occupation, intending to impose deterrence and protect the state from Israeli violations and ambitions. It has been heavily involved in social support to the deprived Shia sect and managed to cover many infrastructure and service holes left by the incapability of the state. But the challenge faced in the last couple of years is beyond Hezbollah’s competencies and probably beyond the means of the state itself.

It should be borne in mind, though, that the flow of the Iranian oil into Lebanon carries with it several potential risks:

First: The risk of an Israeli strike on the supply lines. This will require Hezbollah to strike back “Israel” to maintain the balance of terror and deterrence equation. The tension in the military situation between “Israel” and Hezbollah will reach its climax without going to an all-out war because “Israel” prefers “campaigns between wars” to control the damage that may result from the confrontation. However, if “Israel” strikes the Iranian oil tankers or other countries try to stop the oil from reaching Lebanon, Iran would reply and it is not expected to stop sending its tankers to Lebanon.

Second: The supply route passes through areas not controlled by Hezbollah. What will the other anti-Hezbollah groups do? Will Hezbollah find a solution to convince the (hostile) Druze, Sunni and Christians spread along its supply road to avoid intercepting its trucks, or would it be forced to face groups and be dragged into an internal battle? How will Hezbollah guarantee the cohesion of its areas from the Beqaa to the southern suburbs of Beirut and even to the South of Lebanon so that its environment would be safe from the sectarian incitement the US manipulates and drags the country toward it?

There is no doubt that Lebanon is heading toward the dissolution of the state in a fast-paced manner. This will lead to the security forces’ weakness in general and push each sect or party to provide the necessary support to the membership of its society. Lebanon is expected to live again in the 1980s era when social services were reduced, waste spread in the streets, health and education levels declined, security forces were inefficient and hopeless, and warlords were emerging out of it.

From a specific aspect, the US-Israeli blockade is relatively in the interests of Hezbollah because it receives its financial support in foreign currency. Hezbollah is a regular and coherent organisation, and it will increase its revenue from the sharp devaluation of the local currency, the selling of medicine, oil and food. Hezbollah is expected to sell gasoline and diesel at prices relatively lower than the market price. Furthermore, it is also expected to allow other areas in Lebanon to have access to all the reached products. That will permit Hezbollah to expose greedy Lebanese merchants who monopolise and stockpile medicines and gasoline to starve the market and increase prices. These Lebanese merchants will be forced to sell their goods if these are no longer a rarity in the market. The goods are currently sold on the black market at prices unaffordable to the majority of the inhabitants.

What Lebanon is suffering from is the result of decades of corruption conducted by the US friends who held the political power in the country. The downgrading of Lebanon is primarily due to the US and Israeli interventions and influence in this country: It has lost the name “Switzerland of the East” forever. The disadvantage for Hezbollah will be the security chaos, the fragmentation of the security forces and their inability to impose their authority, and the spread of poverty to hit all walks of life. It is also expected to see the country suffer different sabotage acts, bribes, further corruption- and to become a fertile platform for the Israeli intelligence to operate in. A possible and potential scenario will force Hezbollah to “clean up” the roads to ensure the continuity of its supplies, link all Shia areas together and impose “self-security” to reduce their vulnerability.

Time’s arrow cannot be reversed, and Lebanon will not return to what it was before, not for the next ten years at least. There is a possibility to create Lebanese cantons with different warlords without engaging in a civil war. Each Lebanese party would end up arming its group to support its people and area, not to engage in a battle with other parties, but to defend itself.

The collapse is the master of the situation. The US has prevented Lebanon from benefiting from Chinese and Russian offers to rebuild the country and stop it from deteriorating further. Moreover, the US forbad Europe and the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries from helping Lebanon in this crisis as they used to in the past. After all, Lebanon needs 3 to 4 billion dollars to stand on its feet and regain some of its strength after halting subsidies on various items that gobble up its cash resources.

But the challenge remains for the “Axis of Resistance” members, struggling to survive and resist the US hegemony and confront the US projects to dominate West Asia. Unless the “Axis of Resistance” members take the initiative and move from a defensive to an offensive position and impose new equations that prevent starvation of the population, this pressure will remain and even increase with time. However, supposing the US pressure is maintained, and the “Axis of the Resistance” adopts only survival mode: In that case, Lebanon’s people and the country’s stability will pay an increasingly heavy price, both now and in the years to come.

https://english.almayadeen.net/articles/opinion/lebanon-is-under-maximum-pressure-and-the-target-is-hezbolla

Source: Lebanon Is Under Maximum Pressure, and the Target Is Hezbollah: Iran Sends Its Support

The US is becoming USSR 2.0

Source: Global Times

An overconfident America risks going down same path as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, warned Russian President Vladimir Putin at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

In addition to Putin, the Russian Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Neo-Eurasianism founder Aleksandr Dugin, and other witnesses of the former Soviet Union, and the former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, Russian-American scholar Rebekah Koffler have all talked about the US going down the Soviet Union’s old path.

Symptom I: Interest groups

In the USSR, the self-proclaimed dignitaries of a large bureaucratic class were parasitic on all aspects of Soviet society. They took advantage of their privileges and welfare. Under the highly centralized planned economy of the Soviet Union, the number of commodities that ordinary people could consume were strictly limited, but the dignitaries had privileges to obtain all kinds of scarce commodities such as TVs and cars.

Today, the American ruling class have become new dignitaries. For example, during the lockdown, “politicians went to expensive restaurants, got haircuts, and traveled on luxury vacations, while the rest of us hunkered down, grew long hair and tried to pacify our kids, who were bouncing off the walls during online ‘education.'” Besides, the military industrial complex, intelligence agencies, and Wall Street giants manipulate the US national machinery and deeply influence national policies, and become the shadow cabinet of the US.

Symptom II: abusing military force

The Soviet Union’s intervention in foreign countries was unrestrained. It not only sent troops to Hungary, but also to Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan and others, engaging in an arms race with the United States. It led to soaring military spending and severe restriction of the economic and social development of the Soviet Union. The Brezhnev style expansion policy led to the Soviet society’s stagnation, and war in Afghanistan became an important factor in its dissolution.

Since the 21st century, the US military has launched numerous wars such as the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War, which not only cost a lot of money, but also led to serious strategic failures. Unfortunately, America has not learned its lesson at all, and its military expenditure reached new highs again and again. Its military expenditure in 2020 reached $778 billion, accounting for 39 percent of global military expenditures, which tightened American investments in infrastructure and the American people’s livelihoods.

The irony is that with such hefty spending, American military superiority over other major powers has declined systematically. The ensuing strategic anxiety causes American military expenditure to increase in turn, resulting in a vicious circle.

Symptom III: Totalitarianism

The Soviet Union once practiced chauvinism and advocated for limited sovereignty, which eventually led to the disintegration of the socialist camp.

Today, the United States believes in neoliberalism, the survival of the fittest, and winner takes all. America turned into a liberal totalitarian state, sprinkled with traits of an oligarchy elite, an ideology and media monopoly, and a police state. This is in full compliance with the standards of a totalitarian regime expounded by the former US National Security Assistant Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Symptom IV: Political correctness

The Soviet Union once vigorously suppressed “dissidents.” Neoliberalism in the US has now also become extreme and absolute. The rights of ethnic minorities have become the absolute standard of political correctness. Any speech that does not conform to liberal ideology is presumed guilty. Even Trump, who won 75 million ballots in the general election, is silenced by the media and internet giants at their convenience.

However, numerous requests for political correctness and diversified political identities have not bridged gaps in American society. Instead, it has created more dissidents. Anti-intellectual populist movements such as QAnon and the Proud Boys are spreading like wildfire in the US, further pulling apart the already fragmented social map. According to a CBS poll in January 2021, half of Americans said that other Americans and domestic enemies pose the greatest threat to democracy and their way of life.

Symptom V: Intensified surveillance

The Biden administration strengthened private speech and text message monitoring, and the FBI encouraged citizens to report any “violent extremism” from relatives and friends, just like the Soviet authorities did. This is a new era of the American government seeking full control of American society.

“Don’t believe everything you see on TV; don’t trust everything your teachers say; don’t talk to strangers about your family’s views.” What Americans teach their children now is nothing new to the Soviets.

Like the former Soviet Union, the United States is currently in great trouble. Its causes are not external but internal. In an internal structural crisis, the US has no choice but to pass the buck to other countries. America has to wake up and realize that holding a grudge against China will not lead to better conditions but allow oligarchic power to further oppress the American people’s interests. In the end, it is the Americans themselves who are at the helm to ultimately cure the country’s disease and avoid it becoming a USSR 2.0.

The author is a current affairs commentator. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Epstein Updates – Ties to Microsoft, Bill Gates, Evening Standard Mystery…

Whitney Webb Explains The Epstein And Gates Relationship You Won’t Hear About

The Cover-Up Continues: The Truth About Bill Gates, Microsoft, and Jeffrey Epstein

Pentagon Aims to Partner With ADL And SPLC, Spy On Military Members For ‘Extremism’

The Pentagon under Biden-appointed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is working to partner with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League and spy on membe.

Source: Pentagon Aims to Partner With ADL And SPLC, Spy On Military Members For ‘Extremism’

A Global Demand to 35 Governments: Get Your Troops Out of Afghanistan / A Thank You to 6 That Already Have

Share Tweet Pin Mail SMS The governments of Albania, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, …

Source: A Global Demand to 35 Governments: Get Your Troops Out of Afghanistan / A Thank You to 6 That Already Have

TRS TDS #539 – DEFCONDO 1

Notes:

  • Our Heroes are Dead
  • Bloodsports: Mike v. Sven
  • Optics Kites
  • The Merchant Minute
  • Crush the Erbilites
  • Trump on Xanax
  • The Future of Global Homo
  • Tucker, Eventually
  • BAD GUY DEAD
  • Can’t Kill Product
  • Jamie Wrote a Book

TRS – TDS #538

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