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Best Defense

From Indian raids to cyberwar: Is Stuxnet a modern form of raiding?

I was sitting around with my CNAS colleagues the other day, jiving about Stuxnet and other fun cyberwar stuff. I was thinking about how the Stuxnet raid on Iran blurs the line of warfare. That is, no one has declared war, but what happened was indeed a kind of assault. As it happens, I am ...

Jay Adan/Flickr
Jay Adan/Flickr

I was sitting around with my CNAS colleagues the other day, jiving about Stuxnet and other fun cyberwar stuff. I was thinking about how the Stuxnet raid on Iran blurs the line of warfare. That is, no one has declared war, but what happened was indeed a kind of assault.

As it happens, I am in the midst of reading a manuscript by an old friend that gets into a lot of the French and Indian War. One reason that conflict bears that name is that the French (like the English, who didn’t do it as well) used the Indians to blur the line, conducting raids during peacetime, with plausible deniability. I didn’t know, for example, that the famous and bloody Indian raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1704 was organized by French commanders and launched from near Quebec.

It all makes me wonder if cyberwar is the Indian ally of the 21st century — often helpful, but sometimes troublesome, especially if you are on the receiving end.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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