The Anzus Treaty, which pledges mutual defense in the event of attacks against the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, turned 60 this year. In order to mark the occasion the Aussies and U.S. put out a joint statement saying both interpret the treaty to cover internet attacks. (The Kiwis dropped out of the treaty decades ago but AusUs Treaty doesn’t sound as good.)
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “This is the battlefield of the future and our ability to work together is extremely important to the challenge of being able to counter this very significant emerging threat.”
Panetta’s comments are a far cry from saying invade Belgium and we’re sending in the troops. That’s because in cyberland it is no simple task to say who it was that just invaded the .BE suffix. How do you provide common defense when you don’t know who the attacker is?
Although no one will say it aloud, things like the ISC and making cyberspace part of defense treaties are all clearly aimed at a large Asian nation with several billion people which shall go nameless right now. (And a bit at North Korea and Iran, but we never have a problem naming them.) This makes the idea of invoking military action even more absurd. As Gen. Bernard Montgomery said, the second rule of war is don’t fight a land war in Asia. The only two exceptions to this rule are:
A) Being Genghis Khan
B) Being a nation in Asia
(In case you are curious, the first rule of war is not marching on Moscow – see exception A, above. Unfortunately for troops serving under Monty the third rule of war involved not dropping paratroops into northern Holland.)
Sadly the Anzus Treaty has a long history of being used to invoke military action over attacks which didn’t take place in the real world. The Aussies sent troops to Vietnam on the basis the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which the U.S. fabricated out of whole cloth.