Military Persuasion in War and Policy: The Power of Soft

By Stephen J. Cimbala | Go to book overview

9

Nuclear Weapons and Cyberwar: Persuasive Deadlock?

A TALE OF TWO INCIDENTS

The American aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk was operating in the Sea of Japan on October 17, 2000, on normal peacetime patrol. The political world was calm. No military threats were apparent. Suddenly Russian fighter aircraft appeared, literally out of blue sky, and streamed toward the American carrier. As bemused or incredulous sailors on the Kitty Hawk watched, the Russian combat aircraft closed with the carrier and directly overflew it at low altitude: within several hundred feet of the carrier's high profile. Having “buzzed” the major U.S. symbol of America's uncontested control of the seas, the Russians departed quickly before the Kitty Hawk could scramble its fighters or other U.S. forces might be invited into the action.

The Pentagon at first denied that the Russians had flown directly over the Kitty Hawk, but later acknowledged that Russian planes had done so and within such close range. The Russians had found an interesting way to force the Pentagon's hand. In November, black-and-white photographs taken by the Russian planes were e-mailed from a Russian regional military command directly to the U.S. Navy! According to Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon, the Russians “did take some pictures. They did e-mail the pictures to the Navy and to the ship actually, and I would refer you to the Navy for those pictures.” 1 The Navy was not releasing the pictures.

Russian officials contended the pictures proved that the Kitty Hawk was taken by surprise by the Russian aerial chest thumping. U.S. offi-

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