When we released Game Plan in early 2014 we warned that World War 3 was looming and that it would be a cyber-economic war. As a reminder, here is what we published on The Blaze in February of last year:
Feb. 20, 2014 9:00am by Kevin D. Freeman
Kevin D. Freeman is one of the world's leading experts in economic warfare and financial terrorism. He is currently CEO of Freeman Global Holdings, LLC, and he previously worked for Franklin Templeton Investment Services, helping to build the Templeton Private Client Group from inception. Mr. Freeman was also Chairman of Separate Solutions, Inc., which he co-founded. He has consulted for congressional members as well as past and present CIA, FBI, SEC, and Homeland Security officials. He is the author of Secret Weapon: How Economic Terrorism Brought Down the U.S. Stock Market and Why It Can Happen Again and Game Plan: How to Protect Yourself from the Coming Cyber-Economic Attack.
On Dec. 6, 1941, Americans knew that much of the world was on fire. But they didn't know how close they were to being dragged into the conflict.
Radio intercepts and other intelligence pointed to a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, but those were largely overlooked. Gen. Billy Mitchell sounded a prophetic warning of the coming attack, but he was court martialed for his trouble. Blissful ignorance can last only so long, however, as America learned the next day.
Most Americans today understand that another global war is underway; only this time it's cyber-economic in nature.
We've seen bank accounts confiscated in Cyprus, the collapse of currencies in Turkey and Argentina, and the economic train wreck in Greece. But these problems won't affect us, or so we hope.
But the very conditions that have brought economic havoc to others are at work in America right now. Our entitlement spending is out of control—we have no way to pay future generations what we've promised in retirement and health care. Our debt is unsustainable. There's no reasonable plan to pay back our debt, let alone slow its dramatic growth. And the rest of the world—friends and foes alike—is losing confidence in our ability to hold things together. Our enemies aren't blind. They are preparing to exploit America's growing vulnerabilities.
Our enemies aren't blind. They are preparing to exploit America's growing vulnerabilities. How can we miss these obvious signs?
The successful hacking of Target likely started in Russia. Our web traffic has suspiciously been routed through Belarus and China. Every day, there are hacking attempts originating in Moscow, Beijing, and cities throughout the Middle East and North Korea.
Last year, terrorists shot up an electric substation outside San Jose, Cali. and almost shut off power to Silicon Valley. The Syrian Electronic Army hacked the Associated Press Twitter feed and temporarily crashed the stock market. The official Chinese News Agency demanded that the world be "de-Americanized" and that the U.S. dollar cease to be the world's reserve currency. Russia's Vladimir Putin, the head of al Qaeda, and a former chief economist for the World Bank (who now serves as an advisor to the Chinese government) have recently expressed similar thoughts. Even our athletes in Sochi are restricted from using the Internet because of cyber espionage.
What do these seemingly random and disparate events have in common? They're all described as strategies for economic warfare in a book produced by the Chinese army under the (translated) title "Unrestricted Warfare." The goal? To bring down a superpower.
So far, none of the attacks have risen to the level of a Pearl Harbor. Yet each should be viewed as a "test run" of something far worse.
There is even chatter about the deployment of weapons for an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the U.S. electrical grid. An EMP attack is a nation killer. Without the electrical grid, modern civilization would collapse. EMPs are discussed in "Unrestricted Warfare," and China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran have hinted at their interest in such an unthinkable blow. Of course, coordinated attacks by conventional means against critical Internet systems, the electrical grid, and financial markets could be as lethal as an EMP.
In foreign military and intelligence circles, they're talking about a coming attack on America even as our own authorities ignore the threat. Of course, there was plenty of chatter before Sept. 11, 2001 as well—we just failed to connect the dots.
America has a growing list of enemies, and some of them have built relationships with our allies. We were once indispensable to world order. But thanks to the Edward Snowden NSA revelations, Wikileaks, and ongoing propaganda campaigns, America is viewed across the globe as the greatest threat to world peace.
Our stature is diminished, our allies feel betrayed or neglected, and our enemies are emboldened. Our enemies now wield a variety of economic weapons and have the motive, means, and opportunity to use them. If they were to do so now, we would be devastated.
There were sinister elements of financial terrorism at work in the economic heart attack of 2008, as I outlined in a report for the Pentagon and later described in my The New York Times bestseller "Secret Weapon: How Economic Terrorism Brought Down the U.S. Stock Market and Why it Can Happen Again."
Since that research was published, the risks have substantially increased. Our national debt has risen from around $10 trillion to almost $18 trillion. This would restrict our ability to apply massive stimulus to the economy as we did five years ago. At the same time, the dollar has begun to lose its safe-haven status.
In 2008, when things were falling apart, the whole planet rushed into the dollar, making our response to the crisis much more powerful. Now, whether we realize it or not, foreigners are starting to laugh at the dollar. Emerging nations view it as destabilizing and have begun to trade in their own currencies. Even the IMF and United Nations have called for an end to the dollar's reign.
A new world war is brewing and it will be like no other war before it. Juan Zarate, a former Treasury official and author of "Treasury's War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare," warns that "the United States faces unique systemic vulnerabilities and internal weaknesses that adversaries in the coming financial wars could exploit." The "blending of financial and cyber warfare represents the new frontier," he continues, and the United States "is uniquely vulnerable" and "unprepared to defend itself from the looming external threats and internal vulnerabilities."
These financial wars are inevitable, and they're coming sooner than we think. We can hear their rumblings already. This is the beginning of World War III, and—God help us—we are not ready.
Kevin D. Freeman, CFA, is the author of "Game Plan: How to Protect Yourself from the Coming Cyber-Economic Attack." The Pentagon tasked him in 2009 to study the risks of economic warfare and financial terrorism and serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Personally selected by Sir John Templeton to help build the Templeton Private Client Group, he has more than thirty years of experience in financial markets.
It has been a little more than a year since that article was published on The Blaze. Since then, so many of our concerns have risen in military and intelligence circles when they were once dismissed as alarmist. From Independent Maine Senator Angus King as quoted in Bloomberg:
King called the OPM hack, and an earlier one on Sony Corp. that was attributed to North Korea, "serious warnings, but not catastrophic, which attacks on the financial system, gas pipelines or the electric grid would be." He and others have called for more drastic measures, including developing offensive cyberweapons to retaliate against nations that attack the critical infrastructure of the U.S. or its allies, somewhat analogous to the nuclear threat of "mutual assured destruction" during the Cold War.
Take a look at Larry Edelson's chart of nations at war.
And, any reasonable observer will recognize that the nature of modern war is significantly cyber-economic. Witness for example the most recent revelations of the Syrian Electronic Army's hack of the US Army. From BBC News tonight:
June 8, 2015
The US army has temporarily taken down its website after a hacking attack.
It says an element of the army.mil website was compromised and preventative measures had to be taken to ensure there was no breach of data.
The Syrian Electronic Army – which supports President Bashar al-Assad – says it was behind the attack.
And from last week, the acknowledgment of a hack on the Office of Personnel Management (as reported by Bloomberg):
by Michael A Riley June 5, 2015
The hackers who stole personal data on 4 million government employees from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management sneaked past a sophisticated counter-hacking system called Einstein 3, a highly touted, multimillion-dollar and mostly secret technology that's been years in the making.
It's behind schedule, the result of inter-agency fights over privacy, control and other matters, and only about half of the government was protected when the hackers raided OPM's databases last December. It's also, by the government's own admission, already obsolete.
"Einstein 3 was state of the art two years ago," said James Lewis, senior fellow in cybersecurity at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "It's good, but it's not enough, and we know that because the commercial security industry is already moving away from that kind of defense."
The breach of OPM by hackers, linked by U.S. officials to the Chinese government, has focused attention on the shortcomings of Einstein 3, and by extension the troubled effort to secure government computer networks from sophisticated adversaries such as China and Russia.
What seemed far-fetched to many when we warned a year ago is becoming mainstream reporting today. It will most certainly get worse. The need for a Game Plan is greater than ever. Fortunately, the book is on sale again at Amazon (at this writing more than 60% off the cover price) using this link: