The justification for war has been escalated where NATO now considers it legitimate to respond to a large-scale cyber attack on a Member State with military force. This position has been the decision of the 28 Heads of State and Government at the NATO meeting regarding its new proclaimed jurisdiction with respect to cyberspace. The focus is taking the position that an attack on the computer network can cripple critical infrastructure such as power plants, banks or governments, without any actual military invasion.
The argument has been the threat of a massive cyber-attack upon the international financial markets that would cripple the international capital flows placing the economy at risk. Such a danger is actually the modern version of counterfeiting an adversary’s currency to disrupt its economy by undermining the currency thereby creating inflation and economic war.
Attacking an opponent’s economy has been a strategic part of warfare as this German counterfeit of a British 5 pound note illustrates. The British attempted to weaken the public trust during the American Revolution attacking the Continental Currency with propaganda and penalties of their own. In order to devalue and destabilize the currency of the Colonies, they also engaged in economic warfare by means of extensive counterfeiting.
Benjamin Franklin developed using nature to secure the currency by using leaves that were unique. Regarding the British-sponsored counterfeits, Franklin said:
“Paper money was in those times our universal currency. But, it being the instrument with which we combated our enemies, they resolved to deprive us of its use by depreciating it; and the most effectual means they could contrive was to counterfeit it. The artists they employed performed so well, that immense quantities of these counterfeits, which issued from the British government in New York, were circulated among the inhabitants of all the States, before the fraud was detected. This operated considerably in depreciating the whole mass, first, by the vast additional quantity, and next by the uncertainty in distinguishing the true from the false; and the depreciation was a loss to all and the ruin of many.”
Circulating contemporary counterfeits today are typically collected alongside the genuine examples and, in some cases, are rarer than the genuine bills. Economic warfare has been around for a very long time.