About the speaker
America is at war, but most Americans don’t know it. Covert information warfare is waged by world powers and rogue states—like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea—and groups like ISIS. Bill Gertz describes how technology has revolutionized modern warfare, how the last administration failed to meet this challenge, and what we can do to fight back.
In his new book iWar, Bill Gertz describes how technology has completely revolutionized modern warfare, how the Obama administration failed to meet this challenge, and what we can and must do to catch up and triumph in this struggle. (iWar will be available for purchase and signing.)
Bill Gertz is an award-winning national security journalist and author of seven books, including Breakdown: How America’s Intelligence Failures Led to September 11 and The China Threat: How the People’s Republic Targets America. He is currently senior editor of The Washington Free Beacon, an online news outlet, and national security columnist for The Washington Times.
Gertz has an international reputation. Vyachaslav Trubnikov, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, once called him a “tool of the CIA” after he wrote an article exposing Russian intelligence operations in the Balkans. A senior CIA official once threatened to have a cruise missile fired at his desk at The Washington Times after he wrote a column critical of the CIA’s analysis of China. China’s communist government also has criticized him for his news reports exposing China’s weapons and missile sales to rogues states.
For more on the future of warfare, see Sean McFate’s Westminster talk, The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder.
Robert R. Reilly:
Anyone who has been in Washington for any period of time or follows the subject of national security and foreign policy knows the name of Bill Gertz and has followed his stunning, insightful writing in The Washington Times for so many years, in The Washington Beacon now but continuing in The Washington Times and also Bill’s seven books. One of the most notable, influential, important writers on national security. Some of those books include Break Down: How America’s Intelligence Failures Led to September 11, and the China Threat: How the People’s Republic Targets America. What a surprise. I think all the books may be gone. I’m not sure but we did have some books for sale at cost at Westminster’s special price. I’m sure that Bill will be happy to sign those for you. If you did get copies after his presentation tonight. By the way Congressman Stockman just walked in and I wanted to acknowledge his presence and say how happy we are to have him here and the great service he provided in the U.S. Congress from the great state of Texas. Now nothing could be a greater recommendation for Bill Gertz than the fact that he’s attacked by both sides. And one of those attacks came from the head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence service, who said he was a quote “tool of the CIA” unquote. Whereas a member of the CIA once threatened to have a cruise missile fired at his desk at The Washington Times after he wrote a column critical of the CIA’s analysis of China. So with that introduction please join me in welcoming Bill Gertz.
I’ve been doing a lot of book promotion. You know I’m a national security writer and I do a lot of radio interviews and I do one station, Chicago WLS, where the host is John Howell and he has me on to talk about terrorist threats and the China threat, Russia threats, and he always asks me, he says, “Bill, I don’t know how you sleep at night with all that you know.” And most of the time I just don’t say anything and finally I said, “John, I sleep like a baby. I sleep two hours, get up and cry, go back to sleep, get up two hours.”
So… but, yeah, I’m gonna talk about what I really think is one of the most important subjects right now and that is the subject of information warfare. And I wanted to start out with our quote from the book and it’s by Angelo Codevilla, who as many of you know is a national security strategist, long time. And he- he had a saying which I lead- I put in the very front of the book because I think it really captures the beginning point of how we deal with this issue. He says, “War is essentially a clash of purposes. Only derivatively is it a clash of arms. Peace and war are two sides of the same coin. Failing to grasp that makes it impossible to understand the event that ends war and ushers in peace, namely victory. Now, he’s talking about the concept of how do you bring about the end of war? And in the information environment it’s really about ending threats.
So there’s two main takeaways from i-War. The first is we are under information assault from enemies. And this is a threat-book that looks at those threats. I was contacted by an Air Force guy after the book came out and he told me, he said ‘basically, we now have an acronym for the- the five threats. They call it ‘CRKIT’. And it stands for China, Russia, Korea, Iran, Terrorism. And so those are the big threats and they’re clearly coming at us from an information perspective. The second point of the book is that the U.S. is woefully unprepared, ill-equipped to deal with this threat. We’ve basically been disarmed in the information warfare front and that is a real- real danger to national security.
First, a little bit of the definition. Information warfare. We’ve kind of gotten into kind of a technical versus content kind of issue. A lot of people can say information warfare is cyber attacks. And that’s certainly something we’ve become much more aware of just in the last several years. But I define information warfare as both the cyber technical part of it as well as the information content side of it.
So obviously, we’re familiar with cyber attacks and the damage that they’re doing. They’re escalating in damage. It started out as theft of information and it moved on to damaging, disruption of service. Now the big dangers are attacks on our infrastructure and they’re very vulnerable. On the content side we really haven’t done anything in this sphere since the ’90s. And one of the big problems there was that we- we ended the U.S. Information Agency. That was one of our key things and I’ll- I’ll get into that in- in- in a little bit.
But again we have cyber attacks that can range anything from our financial systems to our electrical grid. They talk about the various infrastructures, the critical infrastructures, but I think most people agree that there really is one most critical infrastructure and that’s the electrical grid. I mean if you shut down the electricity, we don’t have good battery backup. We don’t have a lot of transformers that can be replaced if cyber attacks can succeed in causing transformers to explode.