President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, fuming every so slightly with a tiny bit of impotent anger, have politely asked China to quit stealing America’s data.
“There was an honest discussion, without accusations, without any finger-pointing, about the problem of cyber theft and whether or not it was sanctioned by government or whether it was hackers and individuals that the government has the ability to prosecute,” said Kerry, adding that the U.S. made it “crystal clear” that China’s raid on American systems was “not acceptable.”
“We need to work through how all countries are going to behave, but particularly how we’re going to work this out in terms of the bilateral relationship,” added Kerry.
For his part, President Obama “raised continuing concerns” with the Chinese and “urged China to act in order to reduce tensions,” according to the BBC.
It’s amazing to watch the hapless Obama foreign policy team underplay Cyber Pearl Harbor — the massive Chinese attack on vital U.S. government systems that has put up to 18 million current and former federal employees, plus their friends and families, at risk of identity theft, and dealt damage to American human intelligence efforts that will take years to repair. The White House wants to soft-pedal the attack because they look like bumbling fools for letting it happen — it is as massive an indictment of this President’s faith in Big Government as the Obamacare debacle was.
The calcified bureaucracy at the Office of Personnel Management gobbled up hundreds of millions of dollars for computer infrastructure, and offered nothing but the flimsiest defense against those Chinese data raiders. The semi-conscious officials of OPM still spend more time concealing the extent of the breach than doing anything about it. They have offered little beyond the two most elementary knee-jerk responses of degenerate statism: claim nobody can be held responsible for what happened, and claim they need a huge funding increase to prevent it from happening again.
Making a big deal about the OPM breach with China would make it much harder for the Administration to undersell the disaster to the American people. Also, the hard truth is that Obama has very few cards to play. His government’s cyber security is so weak that China could easily hit us again.
China could punish Obama for insulting them by using a bit of that massive data trove they are hoarding to cause mischief. Obama’s weak economy is in no shape for an economic showdown with the rising global hegemon, and in any event, he does not want America to be the global superpower any more — China wants the job, and Obama wants to give it to them.
Also, Obama is still hell-bent on giving away the nuclear store to Iran, and he does not want an angry China doing anything to scuttle that deal. If the Iran deal falls apart, Obama’s critics will be vindicated, and he will leave office to the sound of derisive laughter. He cannot abide that.
So the Chinese government will go on pretending that they are totally committed to the cause of global cyber security and wouldn’t dream of hacking anyone’s systems. They will keep saying the OPM breach was all the work of rogue bandits who somehow penetrated the world’s toughest firewall to operate out of China without the government knowing a thing about their activities.
And the Obama Administration will pretend to believe them, with the occasional frown intended to make it look like the president and his team really know what’s going on, and the Chinese are working on their last nerve. There will be some laughter behind the closed doors of the Politburo, and then they’ll take advantage of the final Obama year to get what they want in the South China Sea and elsewhere.