Russia, Getting to Know You
Even though Russia has been engaged in cyber warfare against the nations of Eastern Europe who dare to oppose Russian imperialism for years now — most notably against Estonia — for three reasons the nature of its recent cyber attacks were very surprising.
First, it was apparently the first instance in which coordinated, large-scale cyber attacks have coincided with a non-virtual war
Second, as we reported earlier this week, the cyber attacks preceded the war. The New York Times states that a “July attack may have been a dress rehearsal for an all-out cyberwar once the shooting started between Georgia and Russia.”
And third, Georgia may very well, in hindsight, bless the Russians for launching these attacks.
Why? Two reasons. Firstly, Georgia’s Internet is miniscule, and therefore attacking it is largely insignificant. As the Times notes: “It ranks 74th out of 234 nations in terms of Internet addresses, behind Nigeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia and El Salvador. Cyberattacks have far less impact on such a country than they might on a more Internet-dependent nation, like Israel, Estonia or the United States, where vital services like transportation, power and banking are tied to the Internet.” Secondly, the fact that the Russian cyber attacks preceded the bloody war shows unquestionably that the Russians new the physical conflict was coming, and used the cyber attack to soften up their enemy.
In other words, when Russians claim they were suprised by the Georgian attack on Ossetia, they are quite simply lying. The Russian government either tipped its private army of mercenaries to launch the attack, or did so itself, knowing that it was about to use pretext and deception to cover an all-out assault on Georgia. This blog has previously documented the use of Internet minions to attack the enemies of Russia, and the total lack of any effort by the Russian government to block such activity, even as it permits the prosecution of individual bloggers who criticise the Kremlin, clearly shows that the Kremlin is behind the attacks.
So Russia took an action which was not only gratitous, ineffective an unnecessary, but one which fundamentally undermined its own propaganda scenario for the war and betrayed Russia as a rogue terrorist state prepared to fiddle with the underpinnings of 21st Century civilization. That’s to say nothing, of course, of the war itself flying in the face of Vladmir Putin’s haughty, arrogant lectures to the United States about the need for negotiation and international agreement rather that the use of force in international relations. Such ham-handed maneuvers can hardly be suprising coming from a country that can’t even keep its population static (Russia loses up to 1 million from its population every year owing to a vast array of social maladies).
Russia’s record in war is a particularly inglorious one, perhaps the most dismal in the history of major nations, so it’s no suprise to see Russia pursuing such misguided and self-destructive polices. Russians like to take credit for “victory” in World War II, which they call “The Great Patriotic War,” but in fact Russia was gutted as a nation by Hitler’s armies and history shows that it never recovered from the losses. It took a little while, but ultimately the USSSR stumbled and fell — as much because of the barbaric injuries inflicted by its own leader, Josef Stalin, as because of those inflicted by Hitler. Russia suffered the same type of devastating failure to protect the nation in World War II, and actually surrendered to Germany in that conflict. It was brutalized for years by tiny Chechnya and repelled by Afghanistan.
And it’s well to remember how Russia behaved in the lead-up to World War II. It attempted to make a secret deal with Hitler by which it was to share in the spoils of his conquest in exchange for not opposing them, and it fought against Hitler only after being attacked by him. Once Hitler was defeated, the USSR replaced Germany as the locus of evil in the modern world, what Ronald Reagan called an “evil empire.”
Now, the evil empire is back with a vengeance. It’s using its size to bully and brutalize tiny defenseless nations like Georgia by any means possible, just as we’ve been warning it would for over two years now. The world is finally getting to know Russia, and what it’s learning is turning the world’s stomach.
In the past, in Soviet times, it was possible to delude ourselves that the people of Russia were innocent victims of the Communist regime, perhaps nearly as much so as we were. But that was before democratic elections brought a proud KGB spy to power, and before opinion polls showned him with 70% or better nationwide approval. No intelligent person can now dispute that the people of Russia are complicit in the litany of neo-Soviet crimes being committed by Russia today, or that the people of Russia must be called to account for them.