An Act of War on Both Sides of the Russian Hacking Scandal

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Arizona Senator, John McCain, has continued to express his disinterest on lowering the hype over the Russian hackings that allegedly took place, interfering with presidential election results. A recent appearance on Ukrainian television saw McCain  sabre rattling when he said, “when you attack a country, its an act of war.”

While there is less than a month before President Elect Donald Trump is to take office on January 20th, Trump has already made his position on the issue clear; Trump has been more inclined to side with the FBI director who does not support the CIA's claims of Russian involvement in the leak. Trump wants to move on from the investigation and try to improve relations with Russia and Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

McCain however promises that he and other officials in Washington are going to be making more serious sanctions against the Russian cyber-hackers following a hearing that McCain has called to specifically deal with foreign cyber hacking threats. 

McCain has said that the sanctions on Russia that President Obama imposed are insufficient and not severe enough. McCain has promised that he will be working to impose further sanctions that are more severe, yet undisclosed on exactly what they would end up being.

This is all coming about three years after the beginning cyber attacks from individuals related to the Chinese government. Attacks began in the winter of 2013, targeting information about U.S. policy makers and information about United States industrial technology.

While the cyber espionage has more or less continued since then, there still has not been any noteworthy retaliation from the Obama administration to the Chinese over the attacks. Many consider the retaliation has been made due to the fact that the attacks have been leaked to the Chinese military rather than just the government; which would make retaliation a more hostile encounter.

Interestingly enough, while these Chinese attacks were unofficially dubbed as ‘acts of war’ like the Russian hacks, that labeling may just be a way to get people excited rather than an actual definition.

In fact, as of right now there is no exact definition of when a cyber attack would be considered an act of war. According to Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Thomas Atkin the homeland security does not have an exact stance on when a cyber attack would be considered an act of war.

While there is an obvious scenario of if a cyber attack lead to the United States bombing itself or the United States power grid were to be shut down then yes that would likely be an act of war, there still has not been an official line drawn in the sand as to when the war begins.

So for now, Senator McCain can call the cyber attack an act of war all he wants but, in reality, our Homeland Defense has deemed it is not that at all. What we do know is former congressman Ron Paul repeatedly warning the American public that sanctions placed on another country, in itself is an act of war. 

Thankfully enough, Putin hasn't taken the bait and has not retaliated to the new sanctions. Here's to hoping Trump and Putin can deescalate the situation in 2017.