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Plausible Deniability: How we’ll be attacked, unable to retaliate
David Brin   Nov 18, 2017   Contrary Brin  

== Using a tantrum toddler to do your dirty work ==

Okay, bear with me, because there are a couple of vital matters of international security that may be ill-considered. Let’s start with the elephant in the room—the clear fact that is likely to lead to major war:

The brutal North Korean regime is subsidized and propped up by its neighbors to the north and west. But consider...
(1) Vladimir Putin’s carefully crafted anti-western alliance now stretches from Ankara to Manilla, combining Islamist regimes with mafia-oligarchies, with Orthodox-church/czarist-nostalgists, with a few communist politburos. The common thread is not socialism or religion. It is a fear-driven hatred of the West’s positive-sum dynamism and the rule of law. The common themes are 'traditionalism' and absolute power. (See below where this is verified in a report by the Defense Intelligence Agency.)
(2) War drums may seem to have shifted toward North Korea, but I would still bet on Iran. The confluence of forces who want a U.S.-Iran war is still huge: The whole alt-right community, the Saudis, some Israelis, Trumpists seeking a foreign distraction that won’t involve nukes… plus the Iranian mullahs, who would shrug off a few hundred pippety Tomahawk hits, but use them as an excuse to crack down on Tehran’s millions of modernist youths. The biggest winner would be Vladimir Putin, who would profit from rocketing oil prices and also extend his protective umbrella and thus get the Persian satrapy sought by Russian despots since Catherine the Great. With so many winners, eager for this “war,” can it be avoided?

Note that U.S. military leaders, who would have to do the fighting, want no part of this!
(3) Meanwhile turning back to North Korea, the mad Pyongyang regime offers a way for this axis to stab hard at the West, someday, while the real players are protected by a cloak of plausible deniability

What does that mean? Consider how some EMP attack over North America, or a virus/plague might be attributed to the Kim regime, damaging us severely, but with the potemkin mask of North Korean culpability taking all the retaliatory heat.
The state next-door has already proclaimed that they will 'defend NK from hostile actions,' unless the violence is initiated by Pyongyang, in which case they will be “neutral.” 

Ponder that carefully. How can this be anything other than a set up for plausible deniability? Meanwhile, Putin’s U.S. “asset” is busy breaking up the western alliance, while bringing us down to Kim’s level of kindergarten tantrums.
Okay, dismiss this as a crackpot theory (it's my job to explore under-appraised concepts.) But here's possible confirmation to watch out for. Our intel services should be tracking CRINK spy ships in the Pacific.  If such vessels are ever seen converging toward some stretch of international water - or possibly Hawaii or Guam - then we might expect an NK H-bomb to be tested in the center. While the CRI nations denounce it, the test will give them all the data they need, in order to fine-tune the EMP we should have spent 20 years preparing-for.

== The Putin Doctrine ==

David Ignatius lays bare the underlying focus of Vladimir Putin's alliance,discussing the potential scope of Russia’s cyber-operations, as highlighted in a report by the Defense Intelligence Agency, “Russia Military Power: Building a Military to Support Great Power Aspirations.” Its conclusion: “Russia views the information sphere as a key domain for modern military conflict . . . critically important to control its domestic populace and influence adversary states.”
Among the major themes of Russian propaganda, the DIA says, is this message: 
“The West’s liberal world order is bankrupt and should be replaced by a Eurasian neo-conservative post-liberal world order, which defends tradition, conservative values, and true liberty.”

Note that the behavior of Putin's Czar-worshipping, Russian Orthodox + mafia oligarchy state is little different than the old Soviet Union, proving that nationalcharacter - in this case feudalism and paranoia - matter far more than superficialities of dogma. Yet, our confederate right adores this Kremlin, because it has befriended our own feudal lords.
Make no mistake, this Kremlin wants to end us, no less than Khrushchev intended to "bury" the Western Enlightenment Experiment.
== Second topic: cyber security ==

Since 1995, I’ve said our emphasis is all wrong. There is no such thing as a secure system that’s connected to the world. All declarations of cyber-safety later prove false. Witness recently Equifax losing 140 million identifiers and Yahoo losing security for 23 million accounts. 

Stop expecting the next security method to work! It will fail. They will fail. All of them, because it is inherently impossible to dam-up something that is duplicable at zero cost.
Yes, some things merit careful protection, over short terms. Password/ID systems. Industrial methods and core IP. Intelligence sources. These crown jewels would be more secure if we stop trying to defend impossible boundaries. 
Example: Most of the information about 140 million Americans that was stolen from Equifax is not inherently harmful: names, birthdates, social security numbers, mortgage numbers and amounts… most of these data are public and open record in Estonia and Scandinavian countries.  Because they cannot be changed, they are inherently IDENTIFIERS  and not PASSWORDS. As I explain in The Transparent Society, identification pointers can only harm you if they weren’t being used properly, in the first place.
Passwords are vastly more important, but even they are obsolete. The banking industry has been almost criminally lazy and late in realizing what their true, 21st Century role will be - using biometrics to verify customer identity. (One bank hired me as a consultant and they will leave the others in a cloud of dust.)

== What is fundamental ==
Every time I speak at a security agency I emphasize one fundamental. That all enemies of the Western Enlightenment Experiment (WEE) are lethally allergic to light. 

Hostile states, criminal gangs, market cheaters… all of them would suffer in a more open world.  In contrast, the Snowden/Assange/Wikileaks events—  and this leaky White House — show us that light will at-worst only irk or inconvenience the WEE. 

More generally - (and I allow for tactical exceptions) - light only makes us and our systems work better. 
Ponder that again. The WEE nations finds light bracing and improving. All of our enemies find light lethally toxic! Is it possible you don't see what this means?

It means that our one and only victory condition is a more open world

We need some secrets! Some cyber security, and tactical shadows for military, intel etc professionals to use, in daily struggles. Citizens deserve privacy, while knowing the inevitable leaks won't do them palpable harm. Nevertheless, any overall trend toward worldwide transparency favors our side in this clash of civilizations. 

If we give in to the temptation of shadows, they’ll be better at it! And we’ll lose.

== About drone warfare ==
Much has been said about how the use of drones in warfare has reduced killing to a video game. And sure, that's a danger we should always watch for and science fiction does warn us, repeatedly. But we are not there. 

Skip to near the end of this article to see that it’s in fact the very opposite situation for the men and women operating drones from their base near Las Vegas.  Unlike jet pilots, they linger and observe whole villages for sometimes weeks.  They know it’s people – even when it’s a deadly enemy who must be taken out. The sci fi expectation of dehumanization was diametrically wrong.
== Hidden Wealth ==
Do they actually think this won’t end badly for them? Here is an example of what the insatiable, would-be New Lords of the world are doing. Using their wealth to turn Zurich airport into a non-national zone where they can store vast wealth, like 100,000 art works, without ever having to show any of the items or account for the trades even to Swiss authorities. Not. even. to. SWISS. authorities.  Think about that one.
To be clear, the billionaires who earned their wealth – by either inventing/creating or helping others to invent/create wondrous new goods and services – generally want no part of such shenanigans. They are the living arguments for incentivized-competitive and relatively flat-fair-competitive enterprise. (Actual, AdamSmithian 'capitalism' is one of the foremost victims of conspiratorial oligarchy.) I would bet plenty that most of those trading purloined art in this Zurich-airport palace of greed never created a damned thing. They let sycophants tell them they are geniuses and inherently superior, as feudalists have always done. Read EARTH to see where this ends.

Or else, in Existence, see a chapter describing what smart New Lords might do, to avoid the almost universally stupidity of past feudalisms.
Oh, but one of you points out: “Geneva Freeport sounds like the perfect setting for a classic heist movie! Billions in assets, much of it easily tradable like gold and jewels, stored in a single handy location.”
Great idea. Only, all you have to do is steal it from one part of the structure and put the items in another part of the same building! Hey, get my agent on phone.
And some good news...Fascinating how cleverly and well poor people in Kenya are using the cash that they save, especially in the villages where charities are experimenting with direct giving.  Elsewhere I have written about how Kenya’s M-pesa cell phone payment system works, as neighboring country officials are bribed by big banks to prevent it getting a foothold outside of Kenya.

== The crux? ==

 It would be one thing if the neo-feudalists preparing for war against the West were actually as smart as they think they are.  

They aren't. And that... more than any scullduggery... should scare us.
David Brin Ph.D. is a scientist and best-selling author whose future-oriented novels include Earth, The Postman, and Hugo Award winners Startide Rising and The Uplift War. David's newest novel - Existence - is now available, published by Tor Books."

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