'Cyber War' by Richard Clarke

Read an excerpt of "Cyber War" by Richard Clarke.

ByABC News via logo
March 5, 2010, 2:43 PM

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.

Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

It was in the depths of a gray and chill Washington winter. On aside street not far from Dupont Circle, in a brownstone filledwith electric guitars and an eclectic collection of art, we gathered toremember the man who had taught us how to analyze issues of warand defense. Two dozen of his former students, now mostly in theirfifties, drank toasts that February night in 2009 to Professor WilliamW. Kaufmann, who had died weeks earlier at age ninety. Bill, aseveryone referred to him that night, had taught defense analysis andstrategic nuclear weapons policy at MIT for decades, and later atHarvard and the Brookings Institution. Generations of civilian andmilitary "experts" had earned that title by passing through hiscourses. Bill was also an advisor to six Secretaries of Defense, sittingin the "front office" on the E Ring of the Pentagon. He shuttledbetween 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, theman who understood the workings of the Force and tried to teachthem to us. As an analyst and advisor, Bill had been one of a handfulof civilians who had created the framework of strategic nuclearwar doctrine in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They had walkedthe United States back from a nuclear strategy that had called forthe United States to go first in a nuclear war, to use all of its nuclearweapons in one massive attack, and to destroy hundreds of cities inEurope and Asia. Bill and his colleagues had probably prevented aglobal nuclear war and had made strategic arms control possible.Our conversation that night, lubricated by the same martinis Billused to drink with us, turned to the future. What could we do tohonor the memory of William W. Kaufmann and the other strategistsof the second half of the twentieth century? We could, someonesuggested, continue their work, use what Bill had taught us, askthe tough analytical questions about today's strategy. Another at thetable suggested that today is very different from the 1950s, whennuclear 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 twentyfirstcentury, the U.S. developed and systematically deployed a newtype of weapon, based on our new technologies, and we did so withouta thoughtful strategy. We created a new military command toconduct a new kind of high-tech war, without public debate, mediadiscussion, serious congressional oversight, academic analysis, orinternational dialogue. Perhaps, then, we are at a time with somestriking similarities to the 1950s. Perhaps, then, we need to stimulatelearned discussion and rigorous analysis about that new kind ofweapon, that new kind of war.

It is cyberspace and war in it about which I speak. On October 1,2009, a general took charge of the new U.S. Cyber Command, a military organization with the mission to use information technologyand the Internet as a weapon. Similar commands exist in Russia,China, and a score of other nations. These military and intelligenceorganizations are preparing the cyber battlefield with things called"logic bombs" and "trapdoors," placing virtual explosives in othercountries in peacetime. Given the unique nature of cyber war, theremay be incentives to go first. The most likely targets are civilian innature. The speed at which thousands of targets can be hit, almostanywhere in the world, brings with it the prospect of highly volatilecrises. The force that prevented nuclear war, deterrence, does notwork well in cyber war. The entire phenomenon of cyber war isshrouded in such government secrecy that it makes the Cold Warlook like a time of openness and transparency. The biggest secret inthe world about cyber war may be that at the very same time the U.S.prepares for offensive cyber war, it is continuing policies that make itimpossible to defend the nation effectively from cyber attack.

A nation that has invented the new technology, and the tacticsto use it, may not be the victor, if its own military is mired in theways of the past, overcome by inertia, overconfident in the weaponsthey have grown to love and consider supreme. The originator of thenew offensive weaponry may be the loser unless it has also figuredout how to defend against the weapon it has shown to the rest of theworld. Thus, even though the American colonel Billy Mitchell wasthe first to understand the ability of small aircraft to sink mightybattleships, it was the Japanese Imperial Navy that acted on thatunderstanding, and came close to defeating the Americans in thePacific in World War II. It was Britain that first developed the tank,and a French colonel, Charles de Gaulle, who devised the tactics ofrapid attack with massed tanks, supported by air and artillery. Yetit was a recently defeated Germany that perfected the tank in the1930s and first employed de Gaulle's tactics, which later becameknown as blitzkrieg. (As recently as 1990, and again in 2003, the U.S. military went to war with an updated version of the seventyyear-old blitzkrieg tactic: fast movement of heavy tank units, supportedby aircraft.)Warmed by the camaraderie of my fellow ex-students, and bythe martinis, I left the brownstone and wandered out into that coldnight, pondering this irony of history, and making a commitment tomyself, and to Bill, that I would try to stimulate open, public analysisand discussion of cyber-war strategy before we stumbled into sucha conflict. This book is the down payment on that commitment. Iknew that I needed a younger partner to join me in trying to understandthe military and technological implications of cyber warwell enough to produce this book. Different generations think ofcyberspace differently. For me, looking at my sixtieth birthday in2010, cyberspace is something that I saw gradually creep up aroundme. It happened after I had already had a career dealing with nuclearweapons, in a bipolar world. I became the first Special Advisor to thePresident for Cyber Security in 2001, but my views of cyber war arecolored by my background in nuclear strategy and espionage.Rob Knake was thirty when he and I wrote this book. For hisgeneration, the Internet and cyberspace are as natural as air and water.Rob's career has focused on homeland security and the transnationalthreats of the twenty-first century. We have worked togetherat Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, at Good Harbor Consulting,and on the Obama for America campaign. In 2009, Robwon the prestigious International Affairs Fellowship at the Councilon Foreign Relations with an appointment to study cyber war. Wedecided to use the first-person singular in the text because manytimes I will be discussing my personal experiences with government,with the information-technology industry, and with Washington'sclans, but the research, writing, and concept development were ajoint enterprise. We have wandered around Washington and otherparts of this country together in search of answers to the many questions surrounding cyber war. Many peoplehave helped us in thatsearch, some of them wishing to remain unnamed in this book becauseof their past or present associations. We had spent long hoursdiscussing, debating, and arguing until we found a synthesis of ourviews. Rob and I both agree that cyber war is not some victimless,clean, new kind of war that we should embrace. Nor is it some kindof secret weapon that we need to keep hidden from the daylight andfrom the public. For it is the public, the civilian population of theUnited States and the publicly owned corporations that run our keynational systems, that are likely to suffer in a cyber war.