With Russia Paranoia, Corporate Media Becomes Sales Force For Cyberwar
The next Cold War is upon us. And, in what looks like an act of profound laziness, Russia is once again the focus of the establishment’s ire and dark fantasies.
In some sense this was inevitable. A significant portion of the US economy and political system is built on the existence of a restless national security state in constant search of threats. The Cold War provided all the pretext necessary to make the machine hum—expensive weapons systems, endless intelligence needs, and an animating existential danger to rally the people around entrenched elites. When it ended, lots of people in the old guard became unemployed, unimportant, and rudderless.
With 9/11 came some sense of normalcy for the national security state, but jihadists just don’t justify the F-35. In truth, they barely even justify the money needed to pay TSA agents to grab people’s junk at the airport. The US needed a new enemy, and one with deep pockets.
Enter Russia. Though the country mostly sticks to its traditional sphere of influence, it does, like the US, have a cyberwar program that includes foreign spying operations. It also, conveniently, is not a major trading partner like China, which has been repeatedly caught conducting cyberwarfare against US commercial and national security interests. China even allegedly hacked the US Office of Personnel Management, exposing 18 million American’s private information.
But it is Russia that still captures the imaginations of the US media and political elite. Russian paranoia can spur neo-McCarthyism at The New York Times and wholly unsubstantiated accusations at The Washington Post.
The Post recently ran a story headlined, “U.S. investigating potential covert Russian plan to disrupt November elections.” Citing anonymous government officials and spooky language about an expansive Russian plot to steal the US election for Donald Trump, the story quickly hits a brick wall by the fifth paragraph with the admission:
The official cautioned that the intelligence community is not saying it has “definitive proof” of such tampering, or any Russian plans to do so. “But even the hint of something impacting the security of our election system would be of significant concern,” the official said. “It’s the key to our democracy, that people have confidence in the election system.”
In other words, they’ve got jack shit to support this conspiracy theory, but are counting on no one reading past the headline and/or the first few paragraphs of the article. DC cynicism at its finest.
While there is no doubt that much of this Russian fear-mongering is coming from the Clinton campaign and fellow travelers in the media (despite Hillary’s own ties to the Kremlin) in hopes of damaging Donald Trump’s candidacy for president, there is a parallel if not deeper motive.
Cyberwarfare has become big business. From well established companies like Boeing, to new Mandarins like Palantir, cyberwarfare is now a multi-billion dollar industry with its corresponding armies of lobbyists and business development executives.
Of course, when much of your funding comes from the government, your lobbyists are your business development executives, aren’t they?
And before this gets memory-holed, the US started the cyberwar arms race. The introduction of Stuxnet, an American-Israeli cyberweapon that damaged Iranian nuclear facilities, has set off a global cyberweapons arms race that will, like all arms races, principally benefit the arms dealers. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that US cyberwar attacks like Stuxnet have set a dangerous precedent, which is to say everyone now wants in on the game.
Not that the US has stopped with Stuxnet. Recently, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter admitted to Congress the US has been using offensive cyberweapons against ISIS. Typically, the US has framed their cyberwar programs as entirely defensive in nature.
So here we go again, another Cold War with roughly the same villain and the US mainstream media once again acting like the defense companies’ sales force by pushing national security state propaganda instead of offering critical insight.