Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Thursday, 22 February 2018.
We keep reading daily about the potential for Russian election meddling this November. The fact of the matter is that, Russians aside, U.S. election systems actually do have some problems. According to several Left-leaning think tanks, dozens of states need to replace their voting machines [source], and no state received an ‘A’ grade when it came to election security. [source] Even before we get to Russia, it behooves Democrats to continually question the security of voting systems because it casts more doubt on the integrity of the Trump election.
But let’s turn our focus to two Republicans: former Senator Mike Pompeo — now the director of the CIA — and former Senator Dan Coats — now the Director of National Intelligence. Both have warned that the 2018 mid-term elections are at-risk of Russian meddling, going so far as to say that Russian meddling is likely. Well, is it? Yeah, it’s a possibility but remember that there is no benefit to saying that there’s no chance of Russian interference. Even if they were to say that it’s unlikely, any case of Russian interference — real or perceived — would make them look incompetent. And Russian meddling could be a strong selling point if the Democrats fail to take back the House and/or the Senate.
The Left right now is decrying statements by DNI Dan Coats that “there’s no single agency in charge” of election security. The federal government’s ineptitude on cybersecurity aside (there’s no single agency in charge of handling a large scale cyber attack on the U.S., either), states are responsible for securing their own election systems, with help from the federal government. But many states say that they don’t have the money to improve security.
The key takeaway here is that cyber exploitation against election systems is classified as an “asymmetric” tactic. We are undoubtedly in a new Cold War with Russia and technically with China as well. Neither of them desire a hot war with the United States, but both want to supplant the U.S. as the world’s only superpower. They do that through a number of ways: “undermining democracy” and creating a lack of faith in American government, creating cultural divisions and exploiting existing fault lines, stealing technological advantages through espionage, creating wedges between the U.S. and its allies abroad, edging out the U.S. in economic competitiveness, exploiting “gray zones” that U.S. foreign policy has ignored, and influencing traditionally pro-U.S. and neutral nations to accept a new paradigm where a revisionist power challenges and wins against a status quo power. None of these tasks require the deployment of tanks and fighter jets into combat, but every single one is being used against the United States right now.
If one thing is true, it’s that we as concerned citizens should prepare for continued asymmetric attacks against our way of life because Russia and China are trying to defeat the United States without going to war.