Fighting in Russia would be incredibly difficult. Taking down their financial system or making their money worthless is near impossible. However, we can attack them in other ways according to former CIA Director and White House chief of staff Leon Panetta. Appearing on Fox News Channel’s “Your World,” Panetta suggested that the U.S. fight the Russian aggression using cyber warfare.
“I think the United States and our allies can actually take some pretty strong steps against Russia. I mean, one is sanctions, which is to cut them off from the international banking system, I think using cyber to go after their infrastructure, go after their electric grid, go after their pipelines, and weaken their economy. I think, in addition to that, it’s important that we move, as we are, moving up additional forces in NATO to move up towards Russia, and indicate that we are going to take a strong stand with regard — with regards to any other aggression by Russia.”
While cutting them off from the international banking system is one of the feasible approaches, it doesn’t solve the whole problem. The Russians still have their own banks, and they have goods and services they can barter. While the U.S. may shut them out, you can bet many other countries will jump at that opportunity. Especially if they are forced to sell things at a lower price point due to a lack of lawful demand due to sanctions.
Panetta’s suggestion of cyber warfare is an interesting one as it would be effective. While it is true that the U.S. is constantly fighting off cyber-attacks by other countries and hacker groups, to conduct the attacks ourselves is a whole other animal. It is widely known that the U.S. employs both white and black hat hackers; or those who hack to find vulnerabilities and those who look to cause havoc.
Taking on such an aggressive strategy also increases the likelihood for a stronger retaliation, as well as for further provocation from other countries who may look to align themselves with Russia in case the conflict were to turn armed and physical. Given the Russians look to attack Ukraine as the root cause for the problems in the first place, it is crucial that, as Americans, our country takes their needs into account as well.
While the idea of being the first one to strike sounds terrific in theory, it has not been the U.S. policy to do so, and a cyber-attack like Panetta suggests could put the entire nation of Ukraine and our assets already in the country under a substantial risk. That is a risk that we cannot undertake without extreme caution. Panetta has ideas for helping Ukraine, too; not just stopping Russia.
“And, lastly, we’re providing defensive weapons to the Ukraine, which is important, providing them with Javelin missiles, with machine guns with grenades. I hope we provide them with Stingers, anti-aircraft missiles. That was used against them in Afghanistan. I mean, all of that means that they are not just going to be able to walk into the Ukraine without a fight.” As nice as it is to provide them with weapons, we need to ensure they know what they are doing with them.
We saw it with the Afghanistan Army as well as in Iraq; if they refuse to take training seriously, refuse to fight for their country, and refuse to be aggressive they stand no chance. Ukraine is not a country familiar with fighting an aggressive fight and winning. The Russians, on the other hand, are ready, willing, and able to bring the fight. Their soldiers are happy to risk their lives for Russian interests and to do the bidding of Putin. Of all the places the U.S. might be looking to become actively engaged in war again, Ukraine is one of the least desirable places to bring the fight.