At the summit

Unlike the one in BURNING SKIES, the summit between the U.S. and Russia was not crashed by elite Autumn Rain hit-squads. Nor did any of the participants wear powered armor. They did, however, dance around a couple of the key issues that arise in the Autumn Rain trilogy, to wit:

Missile defense:  Russia would like nothing better than for the U.S. to dismantle its plans for missile defense facilities in Eastern Europe.  This is unlikely to happen, but the key variables are (a) the administration’s overall posture toward missile defense (which is still being defined), and (b) whether Russia will ultimately insist on a formal linkage between that and overall arms control talks (in particular the still-unresolved questions around bombers/launchers). While the defense facilities themselves would appear to be directed at Iran rather than Russia, a heavy NATO presence in Eastern Europe is something that makes the Bear nervous.  To say nothing of the possibility that the current “Son of Stars Wars” will ultimately be a stalking horse for a more robust space-based systems.  The conversation so far has both sides biding their time, agreeing to study cooperation options, i.e., defer the key decisions to a later point.

Cyberwarfare:   I’d be surprised if serious discussion occurred on this between the principals, but it’s definitely something getting discussed at the lower levels.  Particularly given that the U.S. created CyberCommand a few weeks back (handing the whole thing over to the NSA—uh-oh).  But while everyone agrees that cyberwar is a problem (if it’s aimed at them), no one agrees on what to do about it.  Indeed, Russia has already launched successful attacks on both Estonia and Georgia.  And China has been attacking the U.S. in cyberspace for some time now.  Ongoing “warfare” of this nature may just be a fact of life in the 21st century, at least until/unless the major regional power blocs establish their own separate nets like they do in my books.  (Of course, such “cyber-autarkies” would have to be accompanied by a comprehensive failure of globalization, but that could be the least of our problems in the decades to come.)

And of course there’s no better way to prepare for those problems than to read BURNING SKIES.

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10 Responses to “At the summit”

  1. Tim Says:

    I thought that the Estonian cyberattacks were largely carried out by Russian script kiddies and organised by ethnic Russian Estonians…

    Have I missed some news on that, or am I just being naive? :-D


  2. David Williams Says:

    I’m assuming that they had the Russian govt’s blessing. But as to the degree to which they were actively involved, who knows? The smokescreen of Plausible Deniability is in effect. China operates much the same way.

  3. Tim Says:

    Could be, and I’m pretty convinced that’s what happened in Georgia.

    My personal opinion is that the Estonian attacks probably were just a giant unofficial, self coordinating, online vandalism spree. I believe that someone with some authority just paid attention….


  4. David Williams Says:

    You could be right. The beauty of it is that it’s impossible to prove either way. One suspects that “smart mobs” on a very loose/untraceable/possibly nonexistent government leash is going to be the paradigm for the next round of cyberwarfare.

  5. Tim Says:

    That could escalate out of control very, very quickly. The defending country turns its own horde loose to try and cut off the attack. Since a lot of the “firepower” is going to come from botnets that’s likely to mean degradation of service and infrastructure in neutral area, who will then turn loose their horde….

    And round and round we go ;-)


  6. David Williams Says:

    And once the hordes get off *everybody’s* leash, that’s where the fun really kicks in.

  7. Al Billings Says:

    You should come out to DEFCON in Las Vegas sometime. You might learn a bit about cyberwarfare (and script kiddies).

  8. Steven Klotz Says:

    On the radio this morning someone was pointing out how absurd it is that we say the Cold War is over, yet 2 superpowers still have thousands of nuclear missiles aimed at each other. The truly scary point though was the idea that the nuclear standoff between India and Pakistan manages to have nothing to do with the Cold War.

    I think about this stuff little enough that hearing about missile defense, nuclear proliferation, etc makes me think of Burning Skies instead of the other way around.

    The big question on my mind is if Russia has a Dollhouse…

  9. David Williams Says:

    @ Al: schedule doesn’t permit this year, but it’s a great idea. txs. . .

    @ SK: making it all the more chilling is that when Russia *did* decommision a bunch of its nukes, back in the 1990s, the question immediately gets raised as to Where Are All Those Nukes Going Anyway. uh-oh . . .

  10. narciso Says:

    I finished “Burning Skies” today, while at the dentist’s office today, of all things, It’s a little easier to follow than Mirrored Heavens was. Actually the tradeoff between missile defense at least in Eastern Europe, and we could mention Alaska and assistance with the Iranian nuclear program is clearly spelled out. The fact that the siloviki probably run the companies that are arming their real mortal foe. I agree that Cyber warfare could quickly become the Ice 9 that collapses the net. The likelyhood that Russia ghas something to fear from NATO, which currently is running operations in the Near East, seems a little ludicrous. The reverse is more likely true if the Sajjaal is paired with nuclear warheads. I didn’t really get a better picture of President Harrison, from this or from Greater American News. a wunderkind admiral at 41, who started at Annapolis at 13, by the looks of things, who didn’t have many battles in which to prove himself.

    As to the science, what powers this dystopian world, fossil fuels are out, the Tokamak failed catastrophically. One assumes that cap n trade didn’t work on this world, some kind of perpetual motion technology that we have yet to know about. as the biological and chemical tools to condition razors like Claire, that seems more plausible, with what we’ve learned about the ephemeral nature of memory, and how it can be manipulated