As might be expected of this, the most appalling Presidential election in the US’s modern history, it is now ending with an ugly threat.
This is the threat by the US to “retaliate” against Russian attempts to “disrupt” the election by launching cyber-warfare attacks on “Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems”.
Needless to say, and as has now unfortunately become the pattern under the Obama administration, this threat is not being made officially or publicly. Instead it is being made anonymously, communicated to the American people and the world and of course to Russia via leaks to the media.
Two of the supposed targets of this cyber-warfare – Russia’s electricity and telecommunications networks – are of course ‘soft’ targets, with any attack on them targeting Russia’s civilian population. This has led to Russian complaints that they are being threatened with “cyber-terrorism”.
As to whether the Russians are right about this, I can do no better than refer to section 1 of the British Terrorism Act 2000, which defines terrorism as follows
“Section 1. –
(1) In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where-
(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government [or an international governmental organisation] or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious[, racial] or ideological cause.
(2) Action falls within this subsection if it-
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
(4)In this section—
(a)“action” includes action outside the United Kingdom,
(b)a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,
(c)a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and
(d)“the government” means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.”
(bold italics added)
In light of this the Russians are understandably furious about this “threat” and are complaining publicly about it.
In truth the threat is almost certainly not intended seriously. In contrast to Russia, where for completely understandable reasons it is big news, in the US the threat is just another news story, forming nothing more than a small ripple on the surface of the giant wave of artificially confected anti-Russian hysteria which is sweeping the country. Probably it is being spread for no other reason than to create a little more publicity, and to give this wave of anti-Russian hysteria the appearance of a little more substance. It makes the claims of Russian meddling in the election a mite more credible if they are presented as part of a titanic cyber war between the US and Russia, whilst the American people can be forgiven for thinking the Russians really are up to something bad if the US is threatening them in this way.
In truth there is no evidence Russia is trying to disrupt the election. Julian Assange, who is after all the person in the best position to know, denies that Russia had anything to do with the DNC and Podesta leaks. The FBI investigation into Donald Trump’s supposed Russian links has drawn a blank. At the Valdai conference Putin ridiculed the whole idea.
None of this it seems matters in this most post-modern election of fabricated narratives. In this election it is fine for the US government to scare the American people into voting for a candidate they don’t want by conjuring up a threat that doesn’t exist. If that involves threatening a country which happens to be a nuclear superpower with something British law says is terrorism, then that too it seems is fine. The only thing that matters is getting Hillary Clinton elected.