The Obama government has decided that the President can order cyber war attacks on other countries. This decision marks a stepping up of the aggressive war preparations of US imperialism. This secret decision was reported in the New York Times of February 4, 2013.
The move is part of efforts to expand the ability of the US armed forces to use new technologies to carry out acts of aggression against other countries. Iran and China are the most immediate targets, but other countries which do not fall in line with US strategy can also expect to become targets of cyberwar.
US imperialism's cyberwarfare plans are part of an array of offensive capabilities - in addition to and alongside economic sanctions, global spying, drone assassination strikes and more traditional military actions.
According to the report, the Obama administration’s legal review concluded that the president “has the broad power to order a pre-emptive strike if the United States detects credible evidence of a major digital attack looming from abroad.” The newspaper also reports on new policies “that will govern how intelligence agencies can carry out searches of faraway computer networks for signs of potential attack on the United States and, if the president approves, attack adversaries by injecting them with destructive codeeven if there is no declared war.”
The importance of cyberwarfare has expanded with the increasing reliance on computer networks for the delivery of basic services in many countries. Cyber-attacks can shut down power plants, hospitals, transportation systems or other critical infrastructure, leading to economic devastation and widespread casualties.
It is also reported that because cyberweapons were so powerful, like drone attacks and nuclear strikes, they will be unleashed only on direct orders of the President.
US imperialism has been preparing justification for its policy on "preemptive cyberwar". For a number of weeks, stories have been spread in the US media how China has been trying to hack and destroy various sites in the US. Such stories have been spread in India as well about the hacking of Indian sites from China.
It must be noted that US imperialism in league with Israel has already used cyberwarfare to attack the nuclear program of Iran. It is reported that they had created the Stuxnet virus, which infected Iranian networks in June 2010. This US operation, called Operation Olympic Games, began under George Bush and has been continued by Obama. As with drone assassinations, Obama personally directed the cyber-attack on Iran.Stuxnet was accompanied by the release of the Flame malware virus. The Flame virus escaped into the general population, infecting thousands of computers in Iran.
Cyber actions are being coordinated by Cyber Command, originally set up under the authority of the Obama administration in 2010. It is led by General Keith Alexander, who is also the head of the National Security Agency, the military’s main spy agency. According to an article in the Washington Post, the military recently approved a fivefold increase in the number of personnel in the Cyber Command, from 900 to 4,900. The aim is to turn the organisation into an Internet-era fighting force.
The recent actions are part of a broader campaign. In mid-October 2012, Obama signed an executive order expanding military authority to carry out cyber-attacks and redefine as “defensive” actions what would be normally considered acts of aggression, such as the cutting off of computer networks.Around the same time, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of a “cyber Pearl Harbor.” Panetta’s speech aimed both at justifying an expansion of cyberwar capabilities and preparing the ground for military action using the pretext of a cyber-attack on the US.
The stepped up cyberwar plans of US imperialism pose not only a threat to the peoples of other countries, but also the working class and people of the US. These plans include military action within the US, and curbing democratic rights of people, using the justification that a "cyber 9/11" is taking place.