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The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age

In 2015, Russian hackers tunneled deep into the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee, and the subsequent leaks of the emails they stole may have changed the course of American democracy. But to see the DNC hacks as Trump-centric is to miss the bigger, more important story: Within that same year, the Russians not only had broken into networks at the White House, the State Department, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but had placed implants in American electrical and nuclear plants that could give them the power to switch off vast swaths of the country. This was the culmination of a decade of escalating digital sabotage among the world’s powers, in which Americans became the collateral damage as China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia battled in cyberspace to undercut one another in daily just-short-of-war conflict. The Perfect Weapon is the startling inside story of how the rise of cyberweapons transformed geopolitics like nothing since the invention of the atomic bomb. Cheap to acquire, easy to deny, and usable for a variety of malicious purposes—from crippling infrastructure to sowing discord and doubt—cyber is now the weapon of choice for democracies, dictators, and terrorists. Two presidents—Bush and Obama—drew first blood with Operation Olympic Games, which used malicious code to blow up Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, and yet America proved remarkably unprepared when its own weapons were stolen from its arsenal and, during President Trump’s first year, turned back on the US and its allies. The government was often paralyzed, unable to threaten the use of cyberweapons because America was so vulnerable to crippling attacks on its own networks of banks, utilities, and government agencies. Moving from the White House Situation Room to the dens of Chinese government hackers to the boardrooms of Silicon Valley, New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger—who broke the story of Olympic Games in his previous book—reveals a world coming face-to-face with the perils of technological revolution. The Perfect Weapon is the dramatic story of how great and small powers alike slipped into a new era of constant sabotage, misinformation, and fear, in which everyone is a target.

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Re-Designing the Marine Corps for Future War: Necessity or Madness?

General David H. Berger, Marine Corps Commandant, is aggressively pushing a dramatic redesign of the Corps for future war incorporating new missiles, advanced sensors, unmanned platforms, and hypervelocity weapons. HisForce Design 2030effort has drawn enthusiastic support from those who agree that the Corps must change to remain relevant on a more lethal battlefield. But it has generated an equally fervent amount of criticism from others who think the effort is overly focused on China—rendering the Corps irrelevant across a range of other potentially more likely scenarios. To achieve its vision, the Corps is doing away with tanks, reducing conventional artillery, shrinking units, and placing new demands on the Navy, already struggling to modernize its fleet. But it is adding anti-ship missiles, doubling-down on unmanned systems, and reenergizing a profound discussion about the importance of naval power.Will a redesigned Corps make it irrelevant for land operations against conventional militaries of larger state powers or irregular forces like terrorist groups? Or are General Berger’s designs essential to America’s future ability to conduct nearly any military operation in any theater against a host of potential enemies?Join us for an in-depth conversation about all of this with nationally recognized experts who hold informed opinions on both sides of this issue: Dr. Frank G. Hoffman, Lt. Col. USMCR (Ret.), Distinguished Research Fellow at the National Defense University, and Mark F. Cancian, Colonel, USMCR (Ret.), Senior Advisor, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies.