Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Jason Healey writes at Defense One that if the Obama administration conducts military strikes against Syria, as now seems likely, it should use military cyber weapons at the earliest possible moment to show "that cyber operations are not evil witchcraft but can be humanitarian." Cyber capabilities could first disrupt Syrian air defenses directly or confuse military command and control, allowing air strikes to proceed unchallenged. A cyber strike might also disable dual-use Syrian critical infrastructure (such as electrical power) that aids the regime's military but with no long-term destruction as would be caused by traditional bombs. Last, it is possible the U.S. military has cyber capabilities to directly disrupt the operations of Syria's chemical troops. Healy writes that one cyberweapon that should not be used is covert cyber operations against Bashar Assad's finances. "Both of his immediate predecessors declined such attacks and the world economy and financial sector are already in a perilous state." Before the American-led strikes against Libya in 2011, the Obama administration debated whether to conduct a cyberoffensive to disrupt the Qaddafi government’s air-defense system, but balked, fearing that it might set a precedent for other nations, in particular Russia or China, to carry out such offensives of their own. This time should be different in Healey's view. "By sparing the lives of Syrian troops and nearby civilians, an opening cyber operation against Syria could demonstrate exactly how such capabilities can be compliant with international humanitarian law," writes Healey. "America should take this chance to demystify these weapons to show the world they, and the U.S. military in general, can be used on the battlefield in line with humanitarian principles."
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