It’s not about Iran, guys

by Chris Zappone

Foreign Policy commentator David Rothkopf is wrong.

For such a bright guy, with such a perceptive post on the Cool War it’s amazing how wrong he can be about the implication of Chinese hacking on the US economy, as exposed by the Mandiant report on the PLA’s Unit 61398. I have to say, very correctly, Rothkopf concludes his piece this way: 

It’s early days. It’s a new game. Undoubtedly, it is one that will involve many twists and turns and may undercut some of the assumptions that have led Chinese and U.S. planners to think that playing at this new game is indeed safer than old approaches. But it is impossible to read stories like the one in Tuesday’s Times without concluding that we are in the midst of a sea change in the way nations project force.

100% correct. But, amazingly early in his piece, Rothkopf says

And while we will publicly denounce them [The Chinese], we are tempered in our criticism because we know we are doing the same thing worldwide. The most famous illustration of these is the “Olympic Games” initiative against the Iran nuclear program — better known as Stuxnet..

But is the US Army really trying to siphon off the trade secrets of the Chinese and Germans and French and British? No. The example Rothkopf gives is an effort to gum up a nuclear program in Iran. My intention here isn’t to portray the US as blameless, but what is unique about China is that it applies a military effort to giving its industry the jump on global competitors by hacking all the advantage it can.

In this way, China is unique. China is not like a nuke-seeking Iran or North Korea. China authoritarian capitalism allows for things like PLA Unit 61398 to support its economy. So China is a challenge for the American economy and the framework of law underpinning US business. China has the scale and motive to put sustained pressure on the US, helped in this case, by cyber theft.

I find it strange that Rothkopf can’t see this. 

I hope some enterprising Republicans can see this reality.