by Gregg Sanders
November 22, 2016
Recently, the United States launched retaliatory strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen in response to multiple cruise missile attacks aimed at U.S. warships. The American reaction to these attacks was in every way just, rational, measured, and appropriate in accordance with international norms. That said, the United States recently experienced another, arguably more egregious, attack from Russia in the form of cyber meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Though the outrage is quite clear, the outcries for retaliation are more muffled than perhaps they would be in the face of a conventional attack. A response is desired, but what it should be is uncertain.
James Stavridis’ recent article in Foreign Policy advocates for a U.S. reply to this transgression, outlines initial steps, and suggests several possible actions. The Admiral’s stance that a U.S. response is required is quite correct, but there is potentially something bigger in play: the United States finally has a chance to respond. Unlike North Korea’s cyber assault on Sony or even Russia’s menacing attacks on Estonia and Georgia, this case presents a relatively clear-cut example of state-sponsored cyber aggression directed at the United States government. More importantly, Russia targeted the very bedrock of the American experiment: a fundamental democratic process that defines the Republic.
President Vladimir Putin. Targeting of the Democratic represents a relatively clear-cut case of Russian-sponsored cyber activity. (iStock)