Richard Clarke on Good Morning America

April 20th, 2010

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Cyber War by Richard Clarke

Author Richard Clarke Explores the Newest Front in 21st Century War Online

April 20, 2010

In Cyber War, author Richard Clarke explores the newest front of modern war: the Internet and how America could already be on the losing side.


It was in the depths of a gray and chill Washington winter. On a side street not far from Dupont Circle, in a brownstone filled with electric guitars and an eclectic collection of art, we gathered to remember the man who had taught us how to analyze issues of war and defense. Two dozen of his former students, now mostly in their fifties, drank toasts that February night in 2009 to Professor William W. Kaufmann, who had died weeks earlier at age ninety. Bill, as everyone referred to him that night, had taught defense analysis and strategic nuclear weapons policy at MIT for decades, and later at Harvard and the Brookings Institution. Generations of civilian and military “experts” had earned that title by passing through his courses. Bill was also an advisor to six Secretaries of Defense, sitting in the “front office” on the E Ring of the Pentagon. He shuttled between Boston and Washington every week for decades.

Behind his back, some of us had referred to Professor Kaufmann as “Yoda,” in part because of a vague physical and stylistic resemblance, but chiefly because we thought of him as our Jedi master, the man who understood the workings of the Force and tried to teach them to us. As an analyst and advisor, Bill had been one of a handful of civilians who had created the framework of strategic nuclear war doctrine in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They had walked the United States back from a nuclear strategy that had called for the United States to go first in a nuclear war, to use all of its nuclear weapons in one massive attack, and to destroy hundreds of cities in Europe and Asia. Bill and his colleagues had probably prevented a global nuclear war and had made strategic arms control possible. Our conversation that night, lubricated by the same martinis Bill used to drink with us, turned to the future. What could we do to honor the memory of William W. Kaufmann and the other strategists of the second half of the twentieth century? We could, someone suggested, continue their work, use what Bill had taught us, ask the tough analytical questions about today's strategy. Another at the table suggested that today is very different from the 1950s, when nuclear weapons were being deployed without a thoughtful strategy; strategies are well developed today.

But is it such a different time? In the first decade of the twentyfirst century, the U.S. developed and systematically deployed a new type of weapon, based on our new technologies, and we did so without a thoughtful strategy. We created a new military command to conduct a new kind of high-tech war, without public debate, media discussion, serious congressional oversight, academic analysis, or international dialogue. Perhaps, then, we are at a time with some striking similarities to the 1950s. Perhaps, then, we need to stimulate learned discussion and rigorous analysis about that new kind of weapon, that new kind of war.

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