BP#6 An Eye for an Eye: the DNC hacking and Russia

http://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-vows-proportional-response-for-russian-dnc-hack-1476220192

In late August, the FBI and other federal agencies concluded that a Russian hack and leak campaign was run against the Democratic Party. This was the leak that offered evidence that Bernie Sanders was prevented from winning the democratic nomination by the party itself. In response to this, the White House has promised a “Proportional” response for Russia.

If this sounds like something out of a cold war era comic to you, then you aren’t alone. I certainly find it to be a little too preposterous a strategy for a nation such as the United States to be taking. I understand a program to prevent foreign hacking, but this was a computer assault against a political party, not the government itself. Why should the government be taking it so seriously as to promise a “proportional” response?

When a government resorts to this sort of “an eye for an eye” tactic, it hurts the geopolitical society that has formed in recent years. it goes against the expected behavior of not starting wars, and with the large amount of tension between the US and Russia at this time, this is teetering on entering a Hobbesian state of nature, in some aspects.

Hobbes was an english philosopher in the seventeenth century that theorized that the basic ethical foundation of society is that, when we give up some freedom, the world is much better than if humans had absolute freedom. When humans have absolute freedom, we tend to rape, murder, steal and take many other abhorrent actions. A period of time where this is the case is called a “state of nature”. Life during a state of nature is, to paraphrase Hobbes, “short, brutish and unpleasant.”

My take on the situation is this: the US is currently headed towards a confrontation with Russia between this, Syria and Russia’s actions towards its neighboring countries. In history, as best as I am aware, there have been only  a couple of times that world powers have taken an antagonistic position towards Russia, and it ended in a state of nature: When France invaded Russia and when Nazi Germany invaded Russia. When the germans invaded, the geneva convention was thrown out the window by both sides, opening up the options of torture of prisoners, among other things. The casualties were alarmingly high on both sides, and ended in many major cities being effectively destroyed. Stalingrad was Rubble, Leningrad was besieged for years. Berlin was outright destroyed and afterwards there was a, to quote a AP US history textbook, “…orgy of rape and pillage.”

So what does that have to do with the DNC hacking? If Russia and the US don’t knock it off, they’ll be headed towards the sort of conflict that leads to such unethical occurrences. Don’t go to a state of nature with this, evolve your ethics to something better than “an eye for an eye”.

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