Nicely rounded feminine curves. Jet black hair. Smooth off-white skin. Enigmatic smile. Height that doesn’t tower over men. Naughty sexual past.
Americans in particular find Kim Jong-un hard to resist… What? No, of course I wasn’t talking about Kim Kardashian, that walking fertility symbol whose jutting attractions these days rank among the highest human achievements.
The North Korean Kim is much more interesting. Granted, he doesn’t have the other Kim’s ability to make men feel weak-kneed with a flash of a buttock. He can, however, bring America to her knees simply by playing computer games.
He started with the US-run Sony Pictures. Kim’s ire was raised by the company’s planned Christmas release of The Interview, a comedy in which the North Korean dictator gets killed.
Almost immediately the company’s computers were hit by a hacking attack accompanied by a nostalgia-inducing warning to potential cinema-goers: “Remember the 11th of September, 2001. We recommend you keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”
By way of a firm, resolute response Sony instantly cancelled the release of the $60-million film until future notice, which can safely be assumed to be never.
Of course abject surrender to terrorists is nothing new, but certain things about this act do have some novelty appeal.
First, rather than relying on the usual AKs and Semtex, with the odd Stanley knife thrown in, the terrorists chose your seemingly peaceful Macs and PCs as their weapons.
Second, and to me more important, unlike most Muslim terrorists, who can be claimed to be extra-national, the provenance of this lot can be unerringly pinpointed to a specific country.
Actually, developing the parallel the hackers themselves suggested, 15 out of the 19 perpetrators of 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, a proportion that under uncountable historical precedents could have been treated as an act of war. But, considering the Saudis’ natural resource, the Americans had to pretend the terrorists had come from nowhere in particular.
Now the papers are abuzz with speculations about the attack on Sony being the first shots fired in a cyber war. Hardly the first, actually, considering that the Russians paralysed Estonia’s computers in 2007, and the Chinese like to put their finger on the mouse too every now and then.
But first, second or tenth, this indeed is an act of cyber war committed by North Korea against the United States.
Considering various aspects of cyber war, most commentators accentuate the modifier rather than the noun, which seems foolhardy. War is war, and we can take it for granted that aggressors can draw on a full arsenal of weapons, from ICBMs to tanks to cannon to, as in this case, computers.
Come to think of it, the weapons are immaterial. What matters is how the country under attack responds to the aggression.
Traditionally there are only a few possible responses.
The moderate response would be to tell the guilty party that this once it’ll be let off with a warning. But the warning is absolutely unequivocal: one more transgression, and the attacked country will respond with every means at her disposal.
The aggressive response would be to launch a counterattack immediately, keeping it commensurate with the provocation. You attack our border guards, we attack yours; you fire on our planes, we fire on yours – that sort of thing.
The extreme, and usually correct, response is to launch a massive strike that would be both punitive and preemptive: punishing the aggressor for what he has done and actively discouraging him from ever doing it again.
And then there is the cowardly response: to let it slide, limiting yourself to a few stern words. You know, the kind of response the United States has adopted.
By itself, allowing Kim to get away with this rather extreme form of film criticism isn’t the end of the world. However, showing weakness may turn out to be just that, the end of the world, and not just figuratively speaking. Next time he may try to jam the Pentagon’s computers.
Take it from someone who spent the first 25 years of his life living under communist dictators: the only language they understand is that of force. When it’s spoken with credible conviction, they, like a street bully who gets punched in the nose, tend to back off.
Showing any sign of weakness or hesitation will only encourage them, and if you don’t believe me talk to Messrs Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Putin – and Kim.
This, to me, seems the proper way of contemplating the emerging situation. Instead, the middle-aged gentlemen writing for our broadsheets impersonate the barely post-pubescent boffins writing for PC Magazine.
Chaps, leave the technicalities of cyber or any other war to those professionally trained in such matters. One likes to believe that the West has enough technical expertise to thwart cyber attacks or, barring that, avenge them in a rather cataclysmic way.
Let’s not speculate what’s going to happen when every computer screen in the country goes black. Instead let’s make sure this doesn’t happen, and words, no matter how stern, aren’t going to do it.
The Russians, Chinese or Koreans may be real high-tech mavens, and I happen to know from personal experience that the Russians really are very good at that sort of thing.
But all those potentially dangerous nations have always played catch-up with the West in high tech. They are perfectly capable of imitating, developing and improving, but so far they’ve always lagged a couple of steps behind, and I see no reason for this pecking order to change.
The very nature of their regimes discourages genuine high-tech innovation. The West is still capable of it, and so is likely to come up with electronic armour able to ward off electronic shells.
Yet the most important part of a tank isn’t armour but cannon, and replacing such old-fashioned weapons with cyber waves isn’t going to alter this general principle.
The upshot is that America, or for that matter Nato, must not surrender to Kim’s charms. We’re under attack, we know who the attacker is, so let’s hit him immediately and hit him hard.
But Obama, otherwise known as the Leader of the Free World, has no time for such actions. He is too busy surrendering to the communist dictators a few miles south of Miami to worry about those at the other end of the world.
My new book, Democracy as a Neocon Trick, is available from Amazon and the more discerning bookshops. However, my publisher would rather you ordered it from http://www.roperpenberthy.co.uk/index.php/browse-books/political/democracy-as-a-neocon-trick.htmlor, in the USA, http://www.newwinebookshop.com/Books/0002752