Some Americans today intuitively understand that another global war is underway; only this war 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.
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. Last year, terrorists shot up an electric substation outside San Jose 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 has risen to the level of a Pearl Harbor and so the sleeping giant of America continues to snooze. 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 9/11 as well—we just failed to connect the dots.
Last week, the White House launched a cyber security initiative but it was little noticed. Clearly, Washington is underestimating the seriousness of the threat despite President Obama's assertions to the contrary as reported by Bill Gertz in the Washington Free Beacon:
"Cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers that the United States faces," President Barack Obama said in releasing the 39-page report."
Gertz's story included a laundry list of recent cyber risks:
"The national and economic security of the United States depends on the reliable functioning of critical infrastructure," the report said. "Cybersecurity threats exploit the increased complexity and connectivity of critical infrastructure systems, placing the nation's security, economy, and public safety and health at risk."
China has been identified as a major cyber attack threat. Chinese-origin hackers, including those linked to the Chinese military, have been detected in recent years conducting what security officials say are vast cyber reconnaissance and cyber espionage attacks against U.S. government and private computer networks.
Iran was blamed for a series of cyber attacks on U.S. financial institutions last year.
U.S. intelligence agencies recently warned that malicious software from Belarus developed by state-controlled software engineers may have been planted inside the government's new federal healthcare network.
Release of the report follows recent reports of a shooting attack last year against a Northern California electrical power station that sought to create a major electrical power outage.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the attackers of the April 16 substation in Northern California were trying to disrupt power to Silicon Valley, the United States' high-technology innovation hub.
"The perpetrators used high powered rifles to fire shots at 17 large electrical transformers," Johnson said at the White House. "With some sort of crude cutting device, they also severed two sets of telecommunications lines near the substation, in an attempt to prevent 911 calls and systems from alerting operators of the attack on the transformers."
Johnson said the public needs to understand that such events could be carried out by cyber attacks. "A cyber attack could cause similar, and in some cases far greater, damage by taking several facilities offline simultaneously, and potentially leaving millions of Americans in the dark," he said.
Another recent example is an effort by a Chinese technology company to possibly infiltrate South Korea. The company was founded by a PLA officer. General Keith Alexander has warned the South Koreans about the security risk and the possibility that the Chinese may hand secrets to their close ally North Korea. Yet, the State Department is not reflecting the concerns and the South Koreans may go forward. Could you imagine the Brits adopting German technology in the late 1930s if we told them it posed a security risk?
Another example is the fact that some of the Affordable Care Act was written in Belarus, a known Putin/Russia client state already connected to hacking America. Why would we permit such a risk? Isn't this the same Russia hacking all our athletes and reporters at the Olympics?
These incidents barely raised eyebrows in DC despite their seriousness. It's all business as usual. It wasn't that way after Pearl Harbor. Or, 9/11. In each of those cases, the war was underway already. We were just asleep. A big one is coming.
America has a growing list of enemies, and some of them have even built relationships with our allies. We were once indispensable to world order. But thanks to the 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 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."
We have been actively pursuing efforts to awaken our government to get us ready for World War Three. So far with little success but we continue to try.
The book has been endorsed and supported by Glenn Beck, the CEO of the American Banker's Association, former head of Special Forces and Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, head of the Center for Security Policy, and dozens of other American heroes.
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.