So far most news reports about the massive Sony hack are expressing “uncertainty” about whether North Korea is behind the cyberattack. Today Variety reports that the hackers are threatening 9/11-style terrorist attacks on theaters that screen “The Interview,” the Seth Rogan/James Franco vehicle making fun of the latest Little Kim to tyrannize the unfortunate northern half of Korea.
Frankly this threat makes me skeptical that the Norks are behind this. While it does sound like their kind of bluster, it also sounds like the obvious disinformation a disgruntled Sony insider behind the hack might throw up to cover his trail, or Russian hackers, etc.
I suspect our intelligence services know who is behind this, but aren’t saying. If we do think the Norks are behind it, then I suggest we ready a program to air-drop large numbers of portable DVD players into North Korea along with DVD copies of “The Interview,” and other propaganda. And threaten to repeat the exercise until the Norks shape up on a number of fronts (like counterfeiting American currency). The obvious escalation? Team America: World Police. In fact, let’s start with this scene:
Turns out RAND’s Bruce Bennett was a day ahead of me with this idea (except for the awesome Team America part):
So what might a strong U.S. response look like? Deterrence is achieved by convincing adversarial leaders that they have more to lose than gain by carrying out such attacks. There are many ways that the United States and even Sony Pictures could affect North Korean internal politics.
Slipping DVDs of at least parts of The Interview into the North, including a narration describing what their “god” Kim is really like, is one way. Leaking damaging information into the North is another. Such leaks might ask why the Kim family has absconded with perhaps $4 billion in state funds while many of its people are starving.
South Korea and the United States also could encourage defectors from the North Korean elite, offering them better lives in the South—even one or two such defections would be a loss of face for Kim.
Only one quibble with Bennett: How do you suffer “loss of face” when you have a face like Kim Jong Un in the first place?
P.S. Sony ought to order up five new anti-Nork comedies. Call Mel Brooks out of retirement for the first one. Adapt “The Producers” to the Kim family, etc.