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> I have no problem with the NSA spying on foreign communications or disrupting them. After all, that's their job. What else would we use the NSA for?

Really? You don't have an issue with a foreign intelligence agency disrupting core infrastructure for a nation in the midst of a civil war? Especially against a nation we are not even at war with?

What if the Chinese (or anyone else) did something similar? Would that not be considered an outright act of war?

We are not at war with Syria, we should not be disrupting anything. There could have easily have been numerous deaths directly resulting from that outage.

> You don't have an issue with a foreign intelligence agency disrupting core infrastructure for a nation in the midst of a civil war? Especially against a nation we are not even at war with?

Intelligence agencies operate in foreign countries during peacetime. This is not a new phenomenon. Espionage is not limited to war, and it never has been. Peacetime espionage is 99% of all espionage, and much of the time, it's necessary to maintain that peacetime.

The US has spies in every country in the world, war or not. So does China, so does Russia, so does the UK, etc. It's just a fact of life. If a nation state is not spying, it's not doing its job.

We're not discussing espionage here. We're discussing the bricking of routers - destruction, or at least disruption, of core national infrastructure. It's like the difference between spying at a power station, and taking it offline for 5 hours.

We're discussing espionage. They screwed up and bricked the routers accidentally. If they had been successful, the routers would have appeared to function normally.

And if they took down a power station accidentally, that would make it better somehow?

Espionage is something countries are expected to engage in even in peacetime, especially to gain intelligence on affairs that will have serious geopolitical consequences (like a civil war in the Middle East, for example). Do you disagree?

No, it's not a new phenomenon. But I think it's bad, and I don't think it's justified to say that each nation is "doing its job."

Or it was part of the effort to stop Syria using chemical weapons, and deny their use to rebels (imagine ISIS with them). That is literally saving thousands of lives, not your hypothetical "I can't live without the internet" scenario.

The US was and is directly involved in the Syrian civil war. It may not be dropping bombs (though it was considering it, and that requires intelligence to plan) but it is trying to stop the violence - and guess what, that requires effective intelligence.

It's just the usual old American Exceptionalism. They believe they have the 'God given' right to disrupt the economies of other countries, destroy infrastructure, assassinate civilians, fix elections and fund military coups.

The only reason ever given is 'Might is Right'. To be an American patriot is to be a psychopath.

To be what a politician calls a patriot is to be a psychopath...

Our founding fathers would not condone the practices of our country. Modern politicians certainly don't seem to abide by the convictions we were founded on. Or maybe they just conveniently warp their interpretation to forward their own agenda.

Do you really believe that France, China, and Israel haven't owned up US routers? Should we declare war on them?

If they entirely cut us off from the internet by bricking our routers, maybe we would declare war.

GP said it would be an act of war. That definition doesn't mean the victim has to declare war on the aggressor, does it?

I feel inclined to agree with other comments saying this boils down to childish morality: "everyone else is doing it."

If you're not intending to make any sort of moral argument, but simply one of consistency in policy, then consider that people are taking issue with their NSA committing an "act of war" on a volatile country they are not at war with. It's different than some friendly mutual hacking with, say, France. What gives NSA the right to make that call and hope it doesn't blow up in the entire nation's face? And if it was sanctioned "from on high", we can still be angry that our elected officials and their appointees would do such a thing.

That is some very weak whataboutery.

If there was a civil war going on in the US and disrupting the internet was likely to lead to loss of life then we might have a comparable situation. That isn't the situation though.

I am making a note of the fact that you view the Chinese government as a good barometer of morality in readiness for the next time you bring up their human rights record.

What a strange comment. You appear to believe that you can sum up the human rights characteristics of entire countries by the answer to a single question about routers.

Here's a characteristic of Chinese human rights that isn't captured by that question: it is the official policy of China that the police can convict and sentence its citizens to a year of labor camp ("reeducation through labor") without a trial. I find that characteristic more important in assessing Chinese civil liberties than the fact that they have obviously owned up a bunch of our routers.

International politics' favorite excuse for everything comes straight from the grade school playground: "He started it!" We ought to do better.

If you reread my comment, you'll see I didn't employ that logic at all. I asked a simple question. Should we declare war on France, China, and Israel?

If a french governemnt agency put a exploit in a nuclear reactor, and a bug caused a meltdown inside the US, should the US declare war on france?

let me ask your question with an other question: How many lives can a spy agency kill until it is no longer acceptable?


The job of spies around the world is to infiltrate infrastructure. The intelligence value of knowing how much power is being produce, and the option to turn them off in case of war is of high military value.

So let say the French intelligence service decide to plant one on a nuclear power plan in the US. Sadly however it has a bug which goes off and partial shuts down the reactor. A meltdown happens, killing a few thousands and irradiate the surroundings.

Do you go to war over this? Would you classify it as an attack, a accident, or a act of war?

Are you seriously equating the internet going out for a few hours to a nuclear meltdown?

During extreme crisis, communication networks are vital in order to minimize casualties.

Lets assume that radio and TV inside Syria informed the public where current fire fights happened, where people should go to seek shelter, and other warnings of dangers to the civilian population. Radio and TV get this information from sources inside government and reporters on the field, some using The Internet to transmit this information.

You cut that communication line and radio and TV do not have current information to broadcast. People dies as a result. A lot of innocent civilians dies. This singular event could have killed more people than horrific event like 9/11 or a meltdown at a power plant.

This is why I ask: How many casualties is a spy agency allowed to inflict until it is no longer acceptable.

Yes (not the OP); losing the Internet and phones in a country in a civil war could kill as many people as a meltdown.

Probably not. At least not all at the same time. It would be very inconvenient.

> it is the official policy of China that the police can convict and sentence its citizens to a year of labor camp ("reeducation through labor") without a trial.

I think officially they ended this. Officially.

We nuked Japan. Should they nuke us?

They would have nuked us, if they had been able to. It was total-war. In a war for survival - which is what most of WW2 was - there are very few things off-limits.

How does that situation have anything to do with today?

Today we're in a "war against terror". It too is total war, where there are very few things off-limits. The US has been implicated in torture, industrial espionage, world-wide surveillance and the killing of innocent civilians.

The "terrorists" (pick your current flavor of the month) are implicated in almost the same list of behaviours, excepting the global surveillance, due to lack of resources.

We aren't currently engaged in some kind of gentleman's war, playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules.

I asked "should" not "would."

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