Merriam-Webster defines cyberwarfare as “the use of computer technology to disrupt the activities of a state or organization, especially the deliberate attacking of information systems for strategic or military purposes.”
We have seen that in the 2020 election cycle, and will in the aftermath: as Biden/Harris take control and their controllers push their agenda. It has been used before, in recent years: the 2016 and 2018 election cycles in the Fifty States. And in foreign elections – most probably in Ukraine, Venezuela, and France, and very likely in Israel and Canada. But it appears that it has achieved its greatest sophistication, success, and impact in the Fifty States. And there is more to come.
As readers may recall, we’ve recently discussed these points:
- A civil war is a conflict internal to a nation: two (or more) factions fighting to gain control of the country and its government. (See my end note, please.)
- The first “Civil War” (1861-1865) was NOT a civil war. Rather, it was a failed war of secession, with more in common with the American War of Independence than most people understand. (The two competing groups of states were NOT fighting to control the federal government.)
- Civil wars are generally violent conflicts, even if low-key (with small butcher’s bills) in the initial stages.
- We are already engaged in a civil war in the Fifty States: a war between the original revolutionaries whose efforts were expressed in the Declaration of Independence and somewhat codified in the Federal Constitution of 1787, and counter-revolutionaries who are pushing unitary government, socialism, curtailments of liberty, and other concepts contrary to the principles of classical liberalism and liberty.
- Violence in this current war is so far low-key – isolated and not on the mass scale found in the past – or likely in the future. Think of the Phony War, the second phase of the 1939-1945 Great European War. That will change. (And no, yesterday’s violence at the Capitol is not that change.)
Right now, we are IN an internal war, with at least two sides. Both can claim legitimacy and control of PART of the FedGov and SOME of the State governments. That war is NOT being waged by armies, traditional mercenaries or traditional militia. Or police forces. (Indeed, the leadership of the American military is as cowardly (if maybe more neutral) as the court system (and Congress). At least the military claim that they will not interfere in this conflict – but don’t count on it.)
Neither the so-called Republican right/conservatives NOR the so-called Democratic left/liberals are “non-state actors” and neither have been or are truly out of power. They each control parts of the FedGov, and other governments, with jurisdiction over at least some of the Fifty States. Both sides want MORE power, MORE control over those parts and governments – AND fear that their opponents have too much and will gain more. To the point of madness and increasing levels of violence.
There is strong reason to believe that if either side gains sufficient power, they will seek to eradicate their opponents: to reduce them to a condition without power. Thank of German Communists and Nazis. These two broad coalitions are actually very similar in their objectives: control and domination, profit and wealth, for as long (as many generations) as possible.
Both of the major sides have many allies. Some of which are “non-state actors” – like businesses (including the media, high-tech, and the industry which supplies things (not just weapons) to government). Organizations, whether it is the Black Lives Matter, the League of Women Voters, Chambers of Commerce/Wall Street, Tea Party Groups, Proud Boys, Antifa, or even colleges. Unions and business associations and businesses whose primary market is NOT government. Some of these entities function as mercenaries or militia, fighting in various ways and supporting that fighting in other ways.
Propaganda is and has been a very important part of war, with or without actual physical combat, for millennia. Today, it continues to develop in both effect and complexity.
Subversion is also a key feature, whether it is spying, infiltration of enemy positions (and institutions), or working to promote and assist defections.
But in modern times, many of the weapons used in war (in general) and in civil war, are changing rapidly. Evolving quickly and often unpredictably.
Cyber-warfare is a type of warfare that did not exist as recently as 50 years ago.
Will it do away with civil wars fought in the streets, the countryside and on physical battlefields? Probably not – though it may mean that such physical combat is the last resort of the side losing the cyberwar. Making the actual blood and guts situation even more grim than without the cyberwar.
We must be prepared and watch for this – cyberwarfare will not just destroy the ability to wage war – to defend against attack. It will also heighten the effects of both propaganda and subversion.
What can overcome it? Hard to say, but I suspect a combination of faithfulness and fidelity to basic principles, courage, and individual initiative are all important.
End note by NAB: The Encyclopedia Britannica has a pretty good definition, but one that I do not agree with: “…a violent conflict between a state and one or more organized non-state actors in the state’s territory. Civil wars are thus distinguished from interstate conflicts (in which states fight other states), violent conflicts or riots not involving states (sometimes labeled intercommunal conflicts), and state repression against individuals who cannot be considered an organized or cohesive group…”
This definition includes wars of secession – because the definition of “state” and “non-state actors” is highly subjective. It would not include, for example, either the various civil wars in the Roman Republic, where both (or more) sides claimed legitimacy but none really had it. Nor would it include the English Civil War, where both Parliament AND the King were both with legitimate claims to being the state. Or even the Russian Civil War of the 1917-1924 period, where again, no faction had a legitimate claim to being the state.