Perhaps one of our greatest potential security threats in the 21st Century does not come from any kind of physical attack. In the information age the problem of “cyber espionage” is increasingly taking center stage even as our political leadership does their best to ignore the threat. A recent National Review article labeled the finding of state-sponsored cyber espionage coming from China as “the greatest crime in history.”
Years of speculation are finally giving way to some hard evidence of the Chinese government’s role in cyber espionage. A new report by cyber-security firm Mandiant is making waves, including on the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times. Mandiant traced the overwhelming percentage of cyber attacks on the U.S. government and American businesses and organizations to one building on the outskirts of Shanghai, occupied by People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398. Despite years of growing evidence, American government agencies, such as the National Intelligence Council and Pentagon, have danced around the issue of state-sponsored cyber-attacks, even while acknowledging that many attacks can be pinpointed in China.
We spend a HUGE amount of money sending our troops all over the world at a time when the fastest growing threats to our national security are not of a military nature. America’s Information Technology infrastructure is vulnerable to cyber warfare and that is an area, along with border security, that we need to pay more attention to. If we withdrew some of those troops, there are natural divisions between nations and groups of nations that would resume. Our biggest potential threat is the uniting of these forces in opposition to what is perceived as an imperial global power. There are potential fault lines between Russia and China, between Arabs (Saudi Arabia in particular) and Persians (Iran, for example), between Sunni and Shite Muslims, etc., etc. We really need to rethink our global military commitments with consideration of whether they really are furthering our security or simply pushing us towards bankruptcy. Are we uniting potential foes against us that might be aiming at each other if we had less of a global military presence? These are questions that will need to be re-examined as we evaluate our 21st Century needs. In doing so we need to keep in mind the remarks to business executives by Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that our debt is the biggest threat to U.S. national security.