by Stephen Bryen
The North Korean Internet has gone dark. Meanwhile the United States has demanded that Korea pay compensation to Sony for the damage they have caused.
First of all, Congratulations to the Obama administration. After bumbling on this issue for more than a week, it seems they may have got up enough gumption to slam the North Koreans.
Even more importantly, the sordid threats to destroy the White House, Pentagon and other American institutions, perhaps with suicide attacks –all of this coming from North Korea and its inexperienced leader– are dangerous threats. Hitting back sends a message that statements of this kind are war like and unacceptable. Perhaps the administration will finally forget about the silly language it used calling the attacks on Sony “cyber vandalism.”
It is likely in the days and weeks ahead that North Korea will try and punish South Korea which is regarded by them as an American lackey. There already is a report that there were cyber attacks coming from North Korea against a South Korean nuclear power plant. Temporarily at least, with North Korea’s Internet shut down, the Kim Jung-um gang will find launching attacks more difficult.
There is always the possibility North Korea will appeal to its friends abroad, namely China, Iran and Syria and attempt to get them to do what the North Koreans cannot. But they may find less enthusiasm for this kind of gambit. A lot of what the Iranians do relies on the Internet, even their nuclear program. They won’t volunteer to help their North Korean “friends” if the risk is too great and the fear America might retaliate.
This will leave the North Koreans in a box. Perhaps they can do some bad things with their army or navy, or fire off artillery rounds as they have done before. But these steps could lead to military action by South Korea or the United States, and North Korea may find itself in big trouble. One can doubt that North Korea can rally its troops in a country that still is starving. The whole North Korean ill adventure may come to a crashing halt and even its government could collapse.
North Korea is a mad country. It is run by a ruthless gang of thugs who don’t care one whit about their own people. They live high on the hog while everyone else starves. They waste their human capital and brainwash their people. One wonders what Putin thinks he is going to gain by lining up with these guys.
Decidedly the response by the United States to North Korean cyber attacks and provocations is good news. Perhaps it will help the administration to understand that North Korea is a danger to world peace. The idea that North Korea is building up a nuclear arsenal and is well along on missiles that can deliver nuclear warheads is a dire prospect. Nothing is impossible in the wacky world of North Korea’s leaders.
In the meantime perhaps the Obama administration, if it can keep its focus and act maturely, will recognize that it now has a hold of the tail of the enemy and should not let go. North Korea is a first step, but the United States should not tolerate cyber warfare by any foreign nation. Not only is our country being ripped off, but our security systems are deeply at risk and exposed. This needs to stop and hitting them back where it matters is how you send the right message.
Thus, Congratulations to the President. Don’t stop and don’t flinch.