The fact that China was able to do this is catastrophic. We’re losing any pre-war prep to China which means that it’s likely to move more aggressively. A balance of power is the best way to avert a war and that depends on us keeping up our end. The Biden administration has failed grotesquely at that. Biden’s latest decision to pick a “historic” Navy Chief of Naval Operations instead of the one readiest to take on China just plays into that. But the national security complex has also failed badly at doing its job. Yet again.
Finally, a basic question is what exactly does an act of war with the PRC look like short of live fire?
This looks a whole lot like planting bombs in the event of a future conflict. It’s closer to the wire than the past hacks because this is not espionage, it looks more like terrorism. And we consider that an act of war.
The closest counterparts to this were the revelations that the USSR had planted nuclear weapons on American soil in the event of a war. While arms caches were found in some European countries, the suitcase nukes never were. The Clinton administration showed no interest in the subject and no one followed up since. That means we might still have bombs waiting to go off in major cities.
But whether the Russian suitcase nukes exist, the Chinese digital malware certainly does.
The malware, one congressional official said, was essentially “a ticking time bomb” that could give China the power to interrupt or slow American military deployments or resupply operations by cutting off power, water and communications to U.S. military bases. But its impact could be far broader, because that same infrastructure often supplies the houses and businesses of ordinary Americans, according to U.S. officials.
They say the investigations so far show the Chinese effort appears more widespread — in the United States and at American facilities abroad — than they had initially realized. But officials acknowledge that they do not know the full extent of the code’s presence in networks around the world, partly because it is so well hidden.
There is a debate inside the administration over whether the goal of the operation is primarily aimed at disrupting the military, or at civilian life more broadly in the event of a conflict. But officials say that the initial searches for the code have focused first on areas with a high concentration of American military bases.
“The Biden administration is working relentlessly to defend the United States from any disruptions to our critical infrastructure, including by coordinating interagency efforts to protect water systems, pipelines, rail and aviation systems, among others,” said Adam R. Hodge, the acting spokesman for the National Security Council.
And a fine job they’re doing of it too.