19 December 2014

Scuttlebutt on the Sony Hack Cyberwar Skirmish

Former Speaker of the House  Newt Gingrich opined that America lost its first cyberwar associated by the Sony Hack, which demanded that the feature film "The Interview" be withdrawn from distribution. 

So America's freedom of speech is subject to the whims of a tinpot dictator (albeit with a few nuclear bombs) from the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea. 

A corporation like Sony Pictures may harbor concerns about liability associated with the publicized threats made by the anonymous hackers calling themselves "Guardians of Peace"  against movie-goers who attended the now cancelled Christmas day opening.  

Voices from both side of the political spectrum, from former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) to Alan Dershowitiz.  But Sony Pictures pulled "The Interview" from all prospective platforms.  There may also have been pecuniary motive for the move.  If the picture is never officially released, Sony Pictures could recover from insurance money, otherwise they would absorb the $41 million production costs.  

This does not explain Hollywood's cowardice towards pissing off Pyongyang. After Sony Pictures cancelled "The Interview",  the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas announced that it would show "Team America: World Police"(2004),  Alas those puckish plans were foiled by Paramount Pictures which refused to offer the Trey Parker and Matt Stone's film which satirizes Kim Jon Un's father Kim Jong-il due to "circumstances beyond their control." Those who want to revel to "I'm So Ronery" can still see it on Netflix or through Amazon Instant Video. 

If that is not sufficient evidence that Hollywood waved the white flag for the Hermit Kingdom, New Regency pulled the plug on the Steve Carell project "Pyongyang", which was slated to start up in March, 2015. And George Clooney spent a week asking a large number of Hollywood executives to sign a petition protesting the Norks blackmailing Hollywood through the Sony Hack.  Tellingly, no one had enough courage to sign the petition.  During World War II, studio produced propaganda pieces like Bugs Bunny cartoons sending up der Fuehrer. Now, such Tinseltown execs like the fortitude to sign a meager memo protesting business blackmail and standing up for freedom of speech. 

During his end of the year press conference, President Barack Obama opined that Sony Picture executives made a bad choice in pulling the film and that they should have talked with him.  It seems that running a rough cut in front of State Department officials was insufficient. Our Dear Leader's messianic charisma, Obama's renown negotiating skills and his steadfastness in setting red lines (and then ignoring them) surely would have made a difference.  But President Obama promises to study the problem and offer a measured US response to North Korean Cyberwar provocation. After all, Mr. Obama will be 6,000 miles closer on golf courses in Hawaii to offer leadership.

The United States does have limited options in dealing with North Korea.  There are virtually no economic sanctions left to use.  Moreover, Pyongyang is insulated by charity from the Peoples' Republic of China so the NORKS can continue create trouble with the US.  We can not forget that the Hermit Kingdom does have nuclear capabilities.  Then there is the small matter of the DRK having 10,000 missiles aimed at our treaty ally South Korea, where we incidentally have 37,000 soldiers stationed.  

There may be black operations by the US which should not become public, as well as behind the scenes diplomatic de marches with DRK allies in Beijing.  But the best public responses that I have heard so far involve Hollywood using the Oscars ceremony on Washington's Birthday to use "The Interview" actors James FRANCO, Seth Rogen and Randall Park to come out in character and joke around.  While at the same time, the Pentagon sponsors a joint training operation with the South Korean, Japanese and American military forces in the Sea of Japan.
But considering the cravenness recently displayed by Hollywood, it is more likely that the Oscars would be hosted by the actual Kim Jong Un with a special appearance by Sony Picture's Racial Inclusion Czar, the Reverend Al Sharpton.

No comments: