There are a plethora of quotes about fighting the last war. Often military strategies are criticized because they are based on defeating an enemy that existed in a past conflict without making adequate provisions for new developments which essentially change the opponent rendering the old strategy obsolete. That may well apply today and even worse. Let’s explore.
President Trump recently submitted a budget to Congress calling for a huge ($54 billion) increase in defense spending. The political reality of any Presidential Budget is that it is a guideline/wish list at best and is never adopted in its entirety. Details are not deeply analyzed for the aforementioned reasons. Also, departments often use budgets (even final ones) as guidelines and do not follow them line by line. I’m willing to bet there is plenty of fat added to an already adequate military budget for things like tanks, airplanes and ships. That kind of military hardware would help win a lot of conventional land, air and sea battles. The problem is there is an entirely new method of waging warfare for which those systems are almost useless. We have already been the victim of it and may have already lost a war without really appreciating that we were in it.
I speak of cyber warfare. Battles waged by computer with worms, viruses and purloined data. While investigations are still underway and incomplete we already know we were attacked by Russia during our 2016 election. It has been established that data was stolen from the Democratic National Committee. Is it really that much of a stretch to think the Republican National Committee suffered the same fate?
Keep in mind that the Russians used their purloined information to help the candidacy of Donald Trump while simultaneously trying to undermine the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. We know Vladimir Putin hates Hillary Clinton and we have reason to fear that it goes deeper than that. How deeply was the Trump campaign complicit in the Russian activities? Did it go all the way up to President Trump himself? These are questions yet to be answered.
If Trump and/or his inner circle were involved in these activities, can we trust them to get to the bottom of things? I think not! That begs the question of if we can trust them to protect us against any future attacks. If the Russians also successfully hacked the Republicans and/or have the “goods” on Trump and/or any in his inner circle what kind of undue influence do they have on the White House?
Here is a real dozy of a question: Do we really realize we have already lost a cyber-war? At this moment I would say the answer is No. Without a complete investigation the answer will remain No. That is scary!
The first step in problem solving is realizing that the problem exists. If we don’t acknowledge that we lost a cyber-war how can we successfully prosecute one in the future? Trump has already compromised the two Congressional Committees investigating the situation. The FBI appears to be an agency suffering from internal chaos, with a conflicted Director and partisan camps within its ranks. I’m not a fan of independent commissions or special prosecutors but one of them may be the only solution in this unique case. Never before have we had a President under serious investigation for possible treason.
We are dealing with something far more important than domestic politics; we are dealing with confidence in our democratic electoral system. At this point the only path I see is for an independent, bipartisan, blue ribbon panel to be put in place to investigate the entire situation. Not a collection of available political hacks, but a panel of respected members of both political parties that are universally seen as trustworthy by the vast majority of Americans. Assembling that panel won’t be easy, (unfortunately there are not a lot of candidates for membership), but neither has defending America from foes domestic or foreign ever been.