Saturday, May 19, 2007

21st Century Aggression

Apparently Russia attacked Estonia early this month. Or more precisely, multiple waves of coordinated, sophisticted attacks were launched on Estonia's internet services. The story is only now coming out and in the process I learn that Estonia is one of the most internet enabled nations in the world. For that reason, the attacks are serious.

Estonia and Russia have no shortage of bad blood between them. Centuries of bad blood, which successive Russian and Soviet regimes have generated, along with a few years of Nazi occupation or liberation, depending on one's national perspectives. All suspicions turn toward Russia, whose governmental IP addresses figure prominently in the attacks. The Russian government denies involvement, claiming hackers appropriated public IP addresses as cover. The Estonians are suspicious; they accuse the Russian authorities of non-cooperation and failing to assist in the investigation.

Russians probably aren't too bereaved about the attacks on Estonia. In fact, Russian chauvinists consider Estonia part of Great Russia. Many other Russians believe Estonians are dishonoring Russian sacrifices to liberate Estonia from the Nazis. Russia, like the United States, has a sense of destiny and prerogative. Estonia is their neighborhood. It would not surprise me if the attackers are the Russian equivalent of American wingnuts, taking action where they believe the government has failed.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin can say, "Shocked. I'm shocked."


I orginially titled this piece "The 21st Century War" but as I wrote, I discovered that this hostility lacks the blood, destruction and body parts which I consider the definition of war. This attack does not require the direct taking of human life. So it's not war. It's serious business and can cause great losses but it's not war. Regardless, the world is likely to see more of these attacks as it becomes ever more dependent on information systems.

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