National security expert warns of Chinese threat
President Reagan’s former principal advisor on the Soviet Union warned of a growing threat from China, calling upon the United States to ramp up intelligence operations around the world and contain terrorist threats in remarks at a luncheon attended by about 300 affluent women at the Greensboro Country Club on Oct. 7.
“One of the huge political problems that America is facing, to which many of us are willfully blind, is China,” said John Lenczowski, president of the Institute of World Politics in
Washington. “China is a rising power. China — we all know how much of our debt it possesses. China has the biggest military buildup today on the face of the earth. China has territorial claims on almost all its neighbors, including an entire state of India. China has one of the biggest international espionage operations going. China has 10,000 spies, minimum, in the United States, many of them operating out of 3,000 front companies in the United States.”
Lenczowski visited Greensboro at the invitation Aldona Wos, the former ambassador to Estonia and a member of the Institute of World Politics’ board of trustees. Wos is married to Louis DeJoy, chairman and CEO of New Breed Logistics. The couple raised money for Rudy Giuliani’s unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination for president in 2007, and Wos co-chaired George W. Bush’s North Carolina presidential reelection campaign in 2004.
The attendees at the invitation-only event were selected by Wos, who takes a special interest in cultivating leadership among women and encouraging their interest in international affairs. Three tables in the dining hall were filled with students from Greensboro Day School, many of them the children of the women in attendance.
“They have huge political-influence operations,” Lenczowksi warned of the Chinese government. “Political- influence operations designed to distort our policy, and psychologically disarm us and make it so we do things that are in their interests and not in ours. There’s almost no reporting about this kind of stuff. A lot of it is sub-rosa, a lot of it is covert, and yet it is a very important part of our national security policy to have to deal with this. Let me just remind you that the Chinese train their armed forces to fight a war against us and they propagandize their armed forces to consider us as the main enemy. You can draw your own conclusions. You can put your head in the sand about all this, or you can be alert and be aware, and you can realize that maybe we don’t want a cold war with China, but we cannot let down our guard.”
Lenczowski urged his audience to encourage young people with an interest in national security and intelligence to work for the CIA, and particularly to learn to engage in the neglected activities of counter-influence and informational warfare.
“The number-one strategy has to be to isolate terrorists from their recruitment base and from their population support base,” he said. “You can kill terrorists — and I’m in favor of killing those people who have killed innocents; this is war — but killing terrorists isn’t going to solve your problem because the central front in this war is the political problem: And that is why those people become terrorists in the first place . People become terrorists because they hear information about the United States.”
One of the Institute of World Politics’ students is working with the US Army’s Human Terrain Project in Afghanistan, Lenczowski told the audience.
“In order to fight this war in Afghanistan, one has to have what I’ve called a ‘granular knowledge’ of local conditions,” Lenczowski said. “Afghanistan and also these western provinces of Pakistan are areas which have very little homogeneity, and conditions in them are different from town to town. One needs to know what the conditions are in order to win the political sympathies and to protect these people effectively.”
He explained that the Human Terrain Project applies the study of cultural anthropology and other social sciences to the “social, political and economic and attitudinal conditions” from town to town with an eye towards effectively fighting the enemy.
“He went and did the first examination of Taliban and al-Qaida propaganda in six strategic Afghan provinces, and what the attitudes were about America, about democracy, about women’s rights and so on and soforth that had been spread in these villages,” Lenczowski said of hisstudent. “And it was horrific to see what these people thought aboutus, and how the Taliban and al-Qaida had gotten to these people. Aftereight years of war, we were not in this business. We were disarmed. Wewere literally disarmed in the informational war.”
The national securityexpert added that another former student from the Institute of WorldPolitics is now working in a counterintelligence capacity for the FBI.
“Theproblem is that the bureau is, unfortunately — God bless the bureau —but it is a law enforcement agency, and it is uncomfortable with goingafter people who are exercising their First Amendment rights,”Lenczowski said. “It’s not illegal to engage in many types of influenceoperations. The bureau is comfortable with going after people who haveviolated the law, who you can arrest and prosecute.”
Hedrew parallels between the challenges of counterintelligence in thepost-9-11 era and the battles he and his Reagan administrationcolleagues waged during the Cold War. “The problem is that there isthis business of influence operations,” Lenczowski said. “There’s onlyone way to deal with it, and that’s to expose them.”
Hetold the audience that one of the institute’s alumni “is busy teachingthe FBI about some of the things that it did 20 years ago and 40 yearsago and 60 years ago that it hasn’t been doing in a very long time.Because of his education at the institute he went over to the FBIlibrary and he dug up an unclassified report that the bureau haddistributed publicly on ‘Soviet active measures in the United States.’‘Active measures’ is a KGB term referring to disinformation, forgeriesand covert political influence operations. Nobody in the bureau couldbelieve that they had ever done this kind of thing before.”
Influenceoperations can be proactive, not just defensive, he indicated. As anexample of an opportunity for the United States to influence a foreignsociety to accommodate US interests, Lenczowski noted that some grandayatollahs in Iran have split with the ruling ayatollahs because theyhave come to see that religion is being used as a means to maintainsecular power rather than advance Islamic ideals.
“Youdon’t support them by making grand public statements,” he said. “Youdon’t support them by writing checks and taking photographs of youhanding the check to the opposition leader. You do it through cutoutsand cutouts and more cutouts.
“Yougive an Iranian businessman here in the United States who himself issupporting the resistance, a contract. And that Iranian businessmangets rich. But you know he’s going to take his money and he’s going tobroadcast some good broadcasts to Iran from Los Angeles, which is whatsome of them are doing. Well, how did he get rich? Well, a whole bunchof different ways, but maybe the US government helped him a little bit.That’s political warfare.”
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