tv Jim Sciutto The Shadow War CSPAN October 9, 2019 12:36am-1:46am EDT
writes about his military career and offers his thoughts on leadership in the memoir, called sign chaos. [inaudible conversations] i run the international security program here and it is an honor and a privilege to introduce jim scuitto, who of course many of you know is the chief national security correspondent and also cnn anchor and the author of this new book inside russia and china secret operations to defeat d america. the book was extracted in various forms in the atlantic and f also "the wall street journal" and it's had a lot of goodad critical success.
jim you may not know was also the chief of staff at the u.s. thembassy in china so you know e china story quite well. he's a graduate of yale university, former fulbright fellow and she's here in washington with his wife gloriau former radio tv news, three children. i'm going to turn it over his reported around the world in asia, the middle east and he will make a opening observations about the book and then w we'll open it up to the q-and-a. thank you very much, jim. >> thank you so much to all of you for taking time out of your busy, sunny friday and thanks to those of you watching at home on c-span appreciate having you here as well and thank you to tpeter. he was one of the first people to read a manuscript of the book early on and since he didn't throw it back in my face or tear
it up or embarrass me in another way i thought i was probably okay moving forward with this and he was also kind enough to write a one of the blurbs on the back of the book. i wanted to start by getting asked how i came to a write this book and what my intention what theti process was to recognizing what i call the shadow war really connecting the dots on a number of fronts on which both russia and china are contesting the u.s. to surpass thein u.s. d these were fronts of a shadow war but i experienced firsthand on the ground in ukraine as the little green men took territory in europe in the 21st century i was on a spy plane over the south china sea. as china manufactured territory in the midst of the sea is claimed by half a dozen including u.s. allies and treaty allies such as the philippines.
i went on a u.s. nuclear submarine where u.s. submarine forces are training f to track more capable, quiet russian submarines on another front in this war. i spent weeks traveling around u.s. space command, the president of courseth talked abt a space force. i wrote about this for "the wall street journal" and the fact is the u.s. already has a space force in the u.s. space command and there is already a space war underway in the heavens above us. so, i was traveling to each of these fronts over the course of many years, both regarding russia and china and seeing that there were connections, they were not isolated and they were part of the strategy that both h russia and china are using with great effect. now, you write about anything today and of course it is covered by the hyper political environment that we are in.
i want to be clear this is not a political book. as i look back at how republican and democratic administrations have approached russia and china, i spread the blame around widely because there has been consistent mistakes by both republican and democratic administrations in their approach to russia and china and just to establish that i want to read a section which is the last three paragraphs of the book in my epilogue that gets to my personal motivation for writing this ifll you will bear with me. i write my personal motivation in writing this book is far from political. i'm writing it as they concerned american. i always thought living overseas assignments rather than weaken your patriotism. if you can often better identify your countries weaknesses from abroad but you can also better recognize its strengths and an exhibition there was no question that america has far more to offer the world and china. the shadow war is in large part
a battle of those visions. i see this book as a learning my fellow americans to the war and the threat threat that it preseo the country holds dear. as the great eric said of journalists, all we try to do is live at the growinlook at the gf society and to detect the cutting edges of history. the shadow war is one of the perhaps defining cutting-edge of american history. and i feel that. i spent a lot of time overseas as a journalist covering china, coveringg russia, covering the war in the middle east which is where i first encountered peter bergen serving most of the time as a journalist but for a brief time as the chief of staff to the u.s. ambassador in china.of and as i saw the outlines of the shadow war i also found that it shook my country and its place ink the world. i've got three kids as peter mentioned, and i want their
future to be as free and peaceful as my present and past has been and that is part of the reason why i felt the need and the drive to connect the dots in a way and to talk about this in the public conversation in a way that i don't hear journalists talk about much, but i certainly don't hear our lawmakers or president speak about too much. misreading the russia and china the benefit of the book and the people i think in my acknowledgments of having spoke to a good couple of dozen u.s.
intelligence officials, military commanders, diplomats as well as european diplomats and intelligence officials, current and former who observe multiple administration, and they gave very honest and self-critical insight to say we missed this and persisted in errors and delusions, one of those being and director michael hayden put it this way and ash carter mirroring that we looked at russia and china and imagined they want what we want.e and in th even in the face of contradictory information and even the fact is they don't want what we want. it doesn't mean that we will go to war but they have different interests and aspirations and they want to play lifet by different rules. that is one mistake, the patrol is committing domestic even when you have contradictory and i begin the book with the poisoning a member of this times
time last year impact on the streets o salisbury two russian agents used literally the most powerful nerve agent ever developed in the history of the world more powerful than that which we don't think anymore to attempt to kill he and his daughter. they thankfully miraculously survived a british-born man who picked up with was a bottle of perfume in which it was hidden. she put on her wrist and died within days. her partner, he luckily survived as well. he remembered the outrage from this and i spoke to numerous european diplomats and officials afterwards and they said to me this is different. we've never n seen anything like this. russia has been aggressive but now a nerve agents to kill someone on british soil, i speak with a intelligence official who described to me how he later
discovered that these two russian agents brought in enough detail these two people but they brought in enough to kill thousands. so -- that they dispatched and it is the view of the u.s. and british intelligence that this was okayth from the very top dispatched to agents within a surge to become nerve agent and most powerful in the world two war 10,000. w we can get away with this, no problem but as i was coming up with that story i thought this sounds familiar because when i was in london 12 years before, i remembered and covered the successfulsi assassination of another dissident on british soil off with a nerve agent but let me read from the opening chapter of the book. in 2006, 12 years before the poisoning around the world, the kremlin had already calculated that it could get away with murder on western soil and it
would be proven mostly correct. the belated response was to expel four russian diplomats a fullpe decade after he died. in 2017 the u.s. congress would impose sanctions under the act. the only russian national to be targeted by the united states. the penalties for the 2006 obligations would be measured and long delayed were clearly insufficient to change russian behavior. perhaps laying the groundwork for the repeat on th repeats ons of salisbury and 2018 to add insult to grievous injury, one of the assassins would be elected a member of the russian state dinner where he still serves today. two deadly observations on the western soil using weapons that threaten the lives of thousands carried out under orders from the russian president of yearsth of hard for russia it is difficult to identify one single attack at the opening battle of the shadow war in the united
states and the t west. however the events of the lastev decade showed two consistent and disturbing lines. growing russian aggression and persistent western dilutions about the russian intentions. the same pattern is discernible regarding china which was launching its own inaugural battles in another arguably more taxes tangibly dangerous shadow war on the united states. in that yo matthew actually seeo consistent errors. sone being persisted in the delusion in the face of the starkly contradictory evidence such as two alarming murders on the western soil, but also the response being too weak to changee the behavior. throw some sanctions on there. yeah you try to murder someone on the streets of the uk. we will make public statements critical and impose some sanctions 12 years later they calculate they canan do it again and debated. we will invade a country in europe, a sovereign country annexed the territory in crania,
continue to operate the territory in the east, slap some sanctions on and make some critical statements of flow and behold five years later we still control the territory. we in the case of china will create aircraft carriers in the south china sea and yes he will make some contradictory statements and you will fly over the island and sailed by them and low and behold four years later in that case we still hold the territory and we are increasingly militarizing the filing despite the chinese president having made a promise to the u.s. president to not do that. those consistent errors over time has always been striking to me. i want to get to the many fronts of the shadow war because these are the dots but i try to connect. i think that americans -- goodness. that shows you. americans are aware of some of the fun, and we talk about them on cnn.
people are aware that russia has interfered in the last election. we talk about that a lot. they know that russia and ukraine, we don't talk about it that much, a little bit of the island in the south china sea that rarely framed in the idea of this challenging very idea of sovereign borders. that idea and the treaties and forcing the idea have kept the peace in europe for decades. it's important when the nation violates those and allows them to violate those. that is another front. how many folks here know that russia and china have already deployed within the space? to spark of an audience. normally when i asked that question not many people raise their hand. he's done his research. i hope you will catch up. there's a chapter on this russia has deployed with the space command refers to as these satellites able to move from
orbit orbit, from circle like a predator circling its prey in multiple orbits and disable these satellites either via directed energy weapons against their lasers in space, or old-school things that in those orbits travel even a spare nut or bolt can be disruptive with little check jets on the 'do a f damage. china a has in addition to the kamikaze link satellites deployed with u.s. space command calls the upper satellites they called them maintenance satellites but if you ever saw a numeric or they can also do this right out of orbit. i would say hollywood is a good 20 to 30 years ahead of the game on this kind of stuff. why do they target our satellite technology?? we are more advanced in the
satellite technology than any other country in the world and also war depended on it. smartphones are not smart without the satellites, drones don't fly. if any of you have ever been embedded with u.s. interestit in the field i've always been amazed when they take out their laptops and b open up. if you ever heard about that i can say there is a bad guy on the other side. that is it combination of the surveillance technology that allows the soldiers on the ground to be aware of their surroundings and where the threats are coming from. so, we are more advanced and dependent on that, but also the issue is we take out a few of those and you, paralyzed could be a strong word but you certainly disable the most powerfulrf military in the world and i speak in this book to a lot of deployed military commanders who say i don't know if we know how to fight today without the scapegoat is because they have grown so used to them. the u.s. navy is actually teaching folks how to just in
case they end up in a situation where this stuff doesn't work. so, that is the space front of the shadow war. another one is under the wings. a whole chapter on here comes the rain warfare. again, probably ahead of the game something kind for october, quiet submarines are first attack weapons russia and china have both been deploying faster, more difficult for u.s. submarine forces to detract. authat is a problem because the weapon can show up on the coast of your homeland and if they get through and they have before they can in the event of the war launch nuclear weapons without warning and every once in a while you will read headlines about one showing up off the coast of florida. i'm sure you are familiar with the story that popped up in the will of the u.s. carrier without anwarning. in this dimly, the u.s. chinese are not doing so well in the u.s. subcategory that they've
got electric which some circumstances require them and they are good at giving this. that is another front in the morwari think a particular focun this book on the arctic because it is another field of play in the great game because of the ice shrinks it is more accessible and there's talk of a passage. but some dreams are an extension of american and russian power. another front in the shadow war. of course there's the cyber doaspect as well just being one facet of that is a whole chapter in hereel on china and its effos to steal u.s. private sector and public sector intellectual property. i focus on one gentleman, stephen, who was a chinese businessman with a lot of friends in the u.s., and over the course of four years stole hundreds of gigabytes of data on the 35 to 22 and 317, three of america's most advanced military
aircraft today. you can look at these pictures you might have seen them already. china is sliding three jet look likdouble-click the 25 and c-17. stealing works. i speak to bob anderson in this chapter, the former head of the intelligence for the fbi who was involved in this and he says in his view the fbi is aware of h about 10% of what china is up to in terms of these kind of operations. he makes the point with the growth of the cyber capabilities they don't even need the physical guy on the ground as much anymore and you have these forms of the tens of thousands of very capable chinese hackers basically doing what he refers to as a national service program for the government of hacking into u.s. systems, and they do a damn good job of it. now if you think that china is a more subtle player in this game, think again. about anderson has been involved
in a lot off these cases, and he's a former cop in delaware city is one of my favorite interviews in the book that i'm going to be the way that he described the chinese intelligence, the chinese are more vicious than the russians anderson told me partly to make sure that i was listening. listening. the local people at the drop of a hat and kill people, they will do as much or quietl it which we of china or in one of their territories, but absolutely if they have today will be a very vicious service. don't underestimate how they are willing to operate in these battles. the final point i will make the members of the audience it is the point of it being another mistake that success in the democratic and republican have all calculated that they can get these relationships right.
remember president george w. bush looked into his eye and saw somebody that he could work with and learned later, not so much. president obama, hillary clinton hit the reset button months after and it didn't workk out so well, came around to figuring it out. president trump of course calculated and still calculates that he can get it right in some way. now he still will not call that out on a list of funds with the many others where he's given the opportunity to do so. on china as being more aggressive on the trade front to give away trade secrets etc.. of course the question is how, hahowcome it has his approach changed or solidified the chinese behavior we are going to be seen that over th seeing thae of the weeks and months to follow. again as i come back to this it
is a a pattern of years and learning if you speak to sub marine commanders and the commanders of the spy planes come if you speak to folks inside of the operation center d providing the cyber attacks by thee thousands every day, intelligence officials speak about this from china and russia inth very clear terms. they are desperate for leadership from the top. you don't hear that discussion from the top or even from the halls of congress and that's what you need to come up and articulate and pursued a strategy for pushing back. final point that i will say the final chapter is a host of solutions if you want to call them that the tactics as part of a broader strategy to push against this for half a dozen smart people with experience,
jim clapper, michael hayden -- carter etc. and we kind of crystallized that at the end forwardthere is a way and some of these are inse a way that are already being pursued by all of them come back to the fact you can'tac pursue that asa credible way unless you have an articulated a strategy from the top and that is what goes all the way to the top but they do not have yet to today. that is the shadow war. i look forward to my interrogation. [applause] i guess the first big question is d they have a version of the munro doctrine or something more expensive for the superpower or do they not really know that it's working around, what did you think?
they have economic interest but slowly but surely to establish its capabilities to enforce those interests. bigger picture people ask me because intel will put russia and china at the top and typically sayll russia short-term or dangerous short-term long-term china is a threat and to have that capability does china want to surpass? olabsolutely read the speeches
is that true. >> talking to the former deputy director highly evolved. and then said after he delivered that morning there was a discernible downturn in activity in terms of volume but not substantive change chinese aggression in terms of what they are taking away. >> with the chinese liberation army where they basically lay outt what they are going to do. so what is it? you touch on a lot of it but in general so what is their
approach the shadow war is the asymmetric warfare and then to roll the tanks acrossr the border with this old ukrainian thing right they will not build 12 aircraft carriers so they do it in the asymmetric fashion and the strategy wrote a public essay about this with little green men the chinese call it something different is called winning without fighting to find ways for david to beat goliath but what
would do a lot in the book is the threshold for where the us reacts consequentially and then to take the territory and then there is no war similar with thehe south china sea. aand then two examples and what they worry about now is estonia or the baltics. article five it would the us really go to war to defend estonia today?
questioning the usefulness of nato? are those who go for estonia? and then with the pentagon talk about taiwan. but with us go to war today if china invaded taiwan? and then they stretch that threshold over time. >> and with that nato expansion that is highly threatening. so what does thatt say about us? so how do they cs meaning russia and china and one of
and then the awards and freedom of navigation act. is it something to the idea. >> but with job confronting china on bad trade practices and with that embassy in beijing of course they knew. and the technology is stolen the access is denied and then they reported to us i want you to stick your next out because they were punished even more or deniedis access. almost like a battered wife
syndrome is changing now as they get more public about it. and then i want to be punished more so it was necessary frankly. that knowing the chinese psyche. and to change the economic model of international interest that has served you pretty darn well. and who can argue with the results if the american president says change or i will slap tariffs on you and put you in a position under that authoritarian regime is
has that existed at all quick. >> add human rights or so do we want to study arabia. >> that is a false choice. and then contesting on these issues. and then almost republican and democratic presidents now this administration they are not a priority. >> and then you have the right of the government position.
and how do you characterize thatat split? and then they sanction people. >> and i to talk about the book. toand then the washington post to basically go out with the field ofom cyberspace. what the obama administration waso willing and then get into an escalation. and then they can push back. but on the flipside it with
that election one cabinet level meeting has that response and then you speak to those in that space. but this started under the obama administration for consistency and then estonia a small contingent and then those exercises and all of that. and then to defend the nato ally. dad is more definitive. and that it's not a big deal
to me. but if you speak to the estonians. but president trump is quite tilucky and if you go back to the george w. bush before 9/11 so could that happen again? what did that look like. >> and with the south china sea is the principal surveillance aircraft. that was challenged by the chinese. and then chinese sovereign territory. and so at that time so they
frederick in response there is that increasing and then you talk about raising power and those that were accommodated by the british. so how do you come down on the question it is inevitable. it has a lot to avoid with the chances of that and in the final chapter with cyberspace to set the rules for so you could avoid past conflict and then to enforce those redlines
and then could reach a rebreaking point to head them off before they get to that stage with us and soviet union and $2 billion of trade per year? many multiples with a tremendous mutual interest in keeping a peaceful relationship. so to see the frame of that of the trade war how you could see yourself but we are a long way for that because you hope that makes a difference. it's one of the reasons why russia is the more dangerous when you don't have those
connections with that declining power and the chip on the shoulder. >> raise your hand and wait for the microphone. >>, national security analyst. so i was recently that said if putin had bought job you must have buyers remorse that the trump administration has been quite hard on russia. >> i'm glad you asked by get to your question. >> so how do you in china and russia in your opinion
interpret the national security strategy and defense strategy that refocuses the us specifically naming china and russia for the first time quick. >> that is a fair question of debate. presidentte trump taking steps from the prior administration is not as likely turn off the lights in moscow but and for instance with the ukrainian forces with the obama administration. i'm just citing examples but on the flipside with his public comments would challenge the president and watered down that have been reported on that but then you
have some conflict there and the president's comments about the nato alliance which is arguably your best too tool. with you and the european allies together pushing back. so you have some cognitive dissonance in the midst of that policy. i don't think the president can credibly say it is a different approach but also weaker and how that all fits together. and has the president recognized and acknowledged the a american people it's a fair question when they have done something that's conflicting if you listen to the supreme allied commander in europe the way he talks about russia and then when he travels to european capital
and said we don't know. so that conflict is important to say what is the kremlin? is at the supreme allied commander in europe? as you make those calculations. >> so i'm a fellow at the center and so i wonder if you take the us out of the analysis and speak to the relationship between russia and china. >> a lot of people have that question when they have their own interests. like any country we are where the interests coincide they could work on the same side of things watching north korea they like to make themselves
involved sometimes they play spoiler both russia and china are helping north korea evade sanctions and how does north korean missiles make so many advances? the iranian help there some russian engines on those missiles there is some special loan - - boiling to their own interest. and there are areas if you look to the east of russia there is chinese influence. so they are not working together unless it serves their interest but primarily they are interested to surpass the us and in russia's case to drag down the us with a zzero-sum game and any degree that we add to our own power and stature.
>> i am a pro bono attorney since 1962 i have worked in the government on us military and intelligence ways to deal with threats from china andnd russia. since tiananmen i am involved in human rights in china. so my question relates to your last comment as to one of the things the us can do or the ways to avoid the trap of treaties and agreements. for a country like china that daily violates its statutes, constitution, and many many international treaties regarding torture and international relations at the drop of a hat, in that kind of
a country, what good do you think the treaties would do to protect us except maybe if we see they violate it we can warn them but we do that allng the time. >> that's a great question. part of the shadow war was intended to disrupt those international rules -based order that the us helped to put in place reduce conflict post-world war ii. and from russia china perspective they see the international rules -based order is skewed against their favor so that being said so in
their interest. no question look at russia's violation with the imf and china also no question. that is a problem we would like to hold ourselves up to be the great defender of international treaties but the last couple of years we have unilaterally pulled out the jcpoa if you think about it a treaty negotiated by the us the present has raised questions about the nato treaty and the climate change agreement. if you are a foreign country you say wait a second. us politics is so divisive so will it swing back here? so the us has added what kind of partner are we? we have to get that credibility.
>>. >> when you have spoken to the internal divisions it seems to me in a real way we have a more focused threat of the political party more than russia or china or climate change or any real threat that we face. so to what extent doeshe this problem of not having leadership to take seriously these threats does that just reduce to political tdysfunction? and there we are again. is that in their interest to exacerbate that quick.
>> g the us is not very good at responding to things that has not seen yet like an example of 9/11 in august 2001 george tenet said american people they will walk you through detectors and take your shoes off and no liquid on planes this is what you have to do to prevent this. i will not do that. what is the pearl harbor that will spark action? you can argue 2016 election interference was with bold impactful strike at the core institution of her country of the presidential election but now we have close to half of the country in the president will not acknowledge it is legal. but given the facts but then
to have $100,000 in ads and clearly they have not read the mueller report. but people persist because they cannot let go. have we already seen the pearl harbor but not reacted to it because then we do have a h bipartisan agreement. a lot of thet. disagreement is not so much how you react that the degree of the reaction. that's why a lot of people think the trade war will be years and years even with the democratic president will they pull back from challenging china cracks maybe there is more agreement the other issue
there is not folks on the same side cannot even agree about it. >> that's a massive victory for china. >> thank you. currently am at amherst college to take the white house out of this. the type of warfare that you describe that it never changes but what you describe is one that the pentagon has problems with because there is not enough fragmentation that us aid and state department have a problem with because it might be in their purview but they don't like to use the words on your interviews do you think conceptually the senior bureaucratic leaders understand this and are
willing to engage the way they would with a classic war to mobilize elements of national power quick. >> yes. it took tony but you are right. it is hard to capture because it's not a hole in the ground zero in new york. that is part of the shadow because it's meant to be below. but over time it's not just spectacle that the guy driving the nuclear subs talk about it this way or those driving the spy planes they know it and those that space command they call themselves space
warriors. they feel like they are it is not theoretical it plays out in real terms but it is harder to grab the attention there is less pressure on a president because to be visibly tactile and harder to get money spent. forget about that part. [laughter] it's harder to focused attention but at least they are concocting strategies to take some steps. as we write a section of the book is to raise the alarm in classified session said it we are getting our butts kicked. so they are thinking in those terms but we are not but when
i do a scan of your book like i did 20 minutes ago. [laughter] and this is a comprehensive look and you haven't talked in that it ends up in the and then what they claim the arctic is there with their space. >> i froze my tail off by the way. [laughter] >> i did not mean venezuela there is interesting things going on there.
>> what would you do about the arctic quick. >> on the arctic i do talk about that so russia has the enormous advantage they have the arc of steel along the northern coast which is does is up airstrip said military bases and subs deployed plus they have icebreakers how many do they have? but the baby has none. so our primary weapon is the submarine so the us is more active but now britain has dropped out and now they are back in with a sense among the allies russia has the enormous force advantage but then doing
its bat - - doing his best so there is attention focused on the arctic because russia has normal source advantage they are not little green men but those russian forces in venezuela. they are not hiding that military interest so that is top center and talk about military options i don't know if they were seriously considered. but it's also interesting because that's in our backyard. look at how russia may look at the us and ukraine.
but russia did believe it was concocted by the cia. it is definitely that happened earlier it would have been a chapter in the book. >>. >> my question is on the 21st century and not on the rate will rise and fall of great nations they are becoming a superpower. >> that's a good question. >> as the community activists
and i am getting increasingly pessimistic with some developments and the green new deal and other progressive efforts getting traction and a lot more support but yet and with the handmaid's tale that already exist in other countries already that we saw and nazi germany. so the question is with the long term optimism every time the us gets in the war we've never been out of this so our civil rights are violated and suppressed we become more like
>> one of the problems the shadowo war and it is permanent war. there is no shelling of fort sumter b for a quick begin silently and that's part of the issue. so think of those long-term changes you won't put out the fire but keep it to a low smolder. that's hard for america with beginnings and ends but we have to addressed one - - adjust to the strategy to effectively push back against it. >> is it a victory to be a
superpower? there is a drive to pull back with trumps appeal and strategy but you do that at your own peril and the fact is that there is evidence to ask the southeast asia nations if they want the united states or not but they don't want to be bullied they like the international rules -based order they don't want to be dominated but they mind having them present you may have pushed back m in europe but will they like it if russia carries out or to invade the baltics?