The trouble with cyberwar

The first time I read his opinion on cyberwar, I thought Bruce Schneier was going soft:

If we frame this discussion as a war discussion, then what you do when there’s a threat of war is you call in the military and you get military solutions. You get lockdown; you get an enemy that needs to be subdued. If you think about these threats in terms of crime, you get police solutions. And as we have this debate, not just on stage, but in the country, the way we frame it, the way we talk about it; the way the headlines read, determine what sort of solutions we want, make us feel better.

What he was essentially stating was that it is dangerous to frame our current struggle in terms of war. Initially, I very much disagreed, considering the agencies and utilities that are being cracked. But consider carefully the second half of his argument:

And so the threat of cyberwar is being grossly exaggerated and I think it’s being done for a reason. This is a power grab by government. What Mike McConnell didn’t mention is that grossly exaggerating a threat of cyberwar is incredibly profitable.

Uh oh. Now this is the kind of threat every citizen should take seriously. Would we have had a Cold War if we hadn’t had a Military-Industrial Complex? Good question, but the fact is we now do have an entrenched MIC. And it’s hungry. And will be fed.

Noah Shachtman makes a compelling case in his Washington Post article, “A crime wave in cyberspace,”
that the major events online are criminal, and that the major players are few, and well-known. That makes taking effective action simple. (Definitely read the article.)

The only question is, why not do it that way? What motivation could our (political) leaders have for “building the mystery?” I hope Schneier isn’t right.