Ambiguity in cyberspace and the legality of hacking and manipulating sovereign nations; does it benefit the attacker, or the victim? We've all but survived the potential catastrophe of the 2016 election, and the Russian interference within it, but what does that mean for the future of cyber and psychological warfare throughout the world?
Donald Trump was elected as President of the United States on November 8th, 2016 in an upstart victory that, frankly, no one thought possible. As Daniel Estrada describes his feelings prior to November 8th, "I was convinced that Clinton would win not just because all the sources in the media said she would, but because I though [politics as usual] was the dominant position." My assessment that Clinton would win the election was not as thoughtful as Daniel's, but it was just as strong: Clinton was all-but guaranteed the victory.
The media, after all, had all but promised a Clinton victory, with election predictions giving Donald Trump a 1 to 28.6% chance of securing the necessary electoral votes to win the White House. So, what in the world happened, and how does it affect life as we know it?
In order to understand the ramifications of the 2016 election we need to examine three key factors:
- Political Polarization
- Historical Context
- Words, the best words
With the election cycle nearing its conclusion, you have undoubtedly heard a lot about Hilary Clinton (henceforth referred to as her honorary "Secretary") and her damned e-mail scandal. In fact, you have probably heard about it far more than you would have liked; because, to put it bluntly, if Republicans aren't talking about Benghazi, then they're probably rambling on about this damned scandal.
The problem is, not many people really understand what the scandal is about, or why it's important in the first place. So, I endeavored to read through a few articles on the Internet, and - more importantly - the FBI documents released on the investigation, in an effort to build a primer on the issue and its relevance to the American Citizen.
This is not a political post; it is a technical primer, and as a result, my conclusions at the end of the post will be focused primarily on the ways in which technicians and engineers, like many of the people who read this blog, can learn from this cluster fuck.
There are a lot of issues at play in this election cycle; some of them are very well voiced by both candidates (e.g. immigration) and others are secondary. If you're looking for an essay on the feasibility of Trump's fabled wall (or how he's backpedaling on that promise), or whether or not Clinton actually stored classified information on her servers (or if her security inadequacies just made that possible), then this is not the article you're looking for.
This article seeks to paint the broader context in which these more sensational actions occur. It's one thing to be for, or against, Trump's resistance to multiculturalism and something else entirely to know that the United States has been resisting multiculturalism since before they were united. Similarly, it's one thing to lament Obama's soft approach to dealing with ISIL and something far worse to consider that Obama is attempting to prevent the same mistakes that Bush (and a first-term Obama) made against AQI.
In understanding the broader context, it is my hope that we'll be able to understand the motivations of the candidates and the likelihood of them actually carrying out their various promises and threats. It's very rare that we see a candidate actually uphold his, or her, campaign promises, but when we consider the broader context of US political history, we needn't be as surprised by the promises they choose to leave unfulfilled.