“U.S. Charges Five in Chinese Army With Hacking” read the headline in the Wall Street Journal.
For the first time, the United States government has publicly claimed that the Chinese military is actively engaged in cyber warfare against the United States and American companies. The federal court indictment alleges that Wang Dong, Huang Zhenyu, Sun Kailiang, Gu Chunhui, and Wen Xinyu, all of whom are allegedly affiliated with PLA Unit 61398 in Shanghai, engaged in cyber espionage against several major United States companies, including U.S. Steel Corp., Westinghouse Electric Co. and Alcoa Inc.
The response from Chinese government spokesman Qin Gang was predictable, and suggests little will come of the federal indictment. "This U.S. move, which is based on fabricated facts, grossly violates the basic norms governing international relations and jeopardizes China-U.S. cooperation and mutual trust," Mr. Qin said. "The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber theft of trade secrets."
Mr. Qin is borrowing Vladimir Putin’s media playbook, figuring that saying something makes it so, regardless of the facts. In the last few weeks, Putin has run circles around the American and European governments as his military continues its occupation of Ukraine. He has twice claimed that he directed the Russian troops to fall back. His words bear no relation to the facts on the ground, but in a world where most world leaders view words as a substitute for action, this suffices.
In an increasingly pathetic effort to respond to a world that is ever spiraling out of control, the Obama administration levies feckless sanctions against corrupt Russian plutocrats and futile indictments against Chinese computer hackers. By these token gestures, the American president is rendered increasingly irrelevant and is seen as a weakling incapable of checking foreign aggression. This is Jimmy Carter, without the Southern charm or the humility.
As with most things, incoherent speaking reflects incoherent thinking. For the low information president who habitually finds himself learning of world events through media reports, here’s a brief explanation of how the world actually works, and how we might respond like the world power we ostensibly are, or could be again.