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How Russia and China weaponize the Internet


You can listen to the podcast version of this episode on Apple, Spotify, or these audio player:

"All of these things that the Russians are really good at doing with the tools that we created, ostensibly to make your life better, actually can be turned against you in a way that creates animosity and then strife." — Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding (USAF, ret.)

Technology tools that were created to “make our lives better” can now be “turned against us to create animosity, and then strife,” said Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding (USAF, ret.) in an interview with Freedom Media Network host Curt Mercadante.

Spalding said those same tools are being used by the Chinese Communist Party to wield influence and create disunity and discord within America’s borders.

Dr. Robert Spalding, retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General, is the former strategic planning director to the president for the National Security Council and China strategist for the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He now serves as senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, where this interview was filmed.

General Spalding is also author of the enlightening (and frightening) new book, "Stealth War: How China Took Over While America's Elites Slept."

This shorter episode is taken from a full interview with Gen. Spalding which aired in April 2020:


[00:00:00] Gen. Spalding: You know, things like Charlottesville, all of these things that the Russians are really good at doing right with the tools that we created, ostensibly, to make your life better, or actually can be turned against you in a way that creates animosity. And then, and then strife.

[00:00:21] Now, at least we're talking about it. Yeah. The, the challenge though, that in the way that we're talking about it and the policy suggestions that we're making, doesn't actually get to the main contention, which was not anything about 5g. It was about data and how data is used. And then what we should think about going forward in terms of how do we promote.

[00:00:41] The Republic that we love and the freedoms that we cherish, and it has nothing to do with 5g. It has everything to do with what we call the national security strategy, the, the strategic resource of the 21st century, which is data. It's your life, right? It's essentially digitizing your life for the purpose of driving [00:01:00] artificial intelligence to cons, you know, conceptually make your life better.

[00:01:04] It's just the fact. And it can also be used to control you in ways that you have no ability to discern now, you know, and I talk about the whole point of the second amendment is. Create in the citizenry, the means to essentially fight back against a repressive government, if our democracy fails. Right.

[00:01:26] That's the whole idea. It's not about, it's not about, you know, you know, giving the ability to, to, to, to conduct shootings and all that stuff. Sure. Right. It is really a backstop because the, the founding fathers didn't know if this thing was gonna work and, and they had just got through fighting a revolution.

[00:01:43] That government wanted to take all that stuff away from says, no, we're gonna give that to the population, their home gun with their own gun, their own hunting, their own firearms. So. Now you go into 2016 where you have the March on Trump tower and oh, and oh, by the way, it's the Russians using all these technologies and app [00:02:00] services and business models that we've created to make your life better, to influence our own citizens.

[00:02:05] And you realize, oh my gosh, we're building a world where you don't know that you're being oppressed or you don't know who's oppressing you. And then you think about, okay, in that context, the idea of the second amendment really doesn't make a whole lot of sense because who are you gonna shoot? The likelihood of you being influenced to shoot your neighbor is actually quite high because that's, that's where the atomization comes in, comes into play.

[00:02:27] You know, things like Charlottesville, all of these things that the Russians are really good at doing right with the tools that we created, ostensibly, to make your life better, actually can be turned against you in a way that creates animosity. And then, and then strife. And so how do you, how do you protect that?

[00:02:46] Well, I just said that we can't collect data on you to understand what's going on. So the only conclusion I came to was that you had to secure the data and made it owned by the individual. Right? So that was the key to digital freedom is [00:03:00] owning your own data, owning the, the fact that you own your own life and nobody can, you know, hit, uh, you know, rewind and play what you're and then watch what you're doing.

[00:03:08] Yeah. Not our own government, not a foreign government, not a tech company. Right. Unless you give people the opportunity because you, you have sanctioned that, right. As an individual choice, this is a whole point. And, and this is a power of 5g to basically either create for us all the wonders of technology or to create digital slavery, which is essentially the road that we're heading down, going into the book.

[00:03:32] And at the beginning of the book, you talk. the O obviously things that are happening within China, within the borders of China and internationally, but you also hint at some of the things they're doing within our borders thought well, that, you know, and we used to watch 24, you know, and it's like, right.

[00:03:48] And, and some of the thing it's, it's interesting that some of the things that are in there, you know, are in here happening on our soil. I mean, the reporter who was interviewing the Chinese businessman and they had put an, they basically did an attack on the hotel in New York [00:04:00] city to shut it. Um, I mean the numbers of, uh, of attacks and, uh, what are they, what are they called?

[00:04:07] Denial of service attacks on us companies here as you've done media for the book online. Have you experienced anything happening where something got shut down or you were doing a, a media interview? Oh yeah. I came, I came home one day and all my files were in the recycle bin. Right. So, you know, I, I put that laptop away and I haven't taken it out.

[00:04:28] But, I mean, there's other things, right. I, I get on Twitter and there's trolls that come on that come after me. And you, you clearly know that they're trolls and, and they're working on behalf of the Chinese communist party. For me, it's it's educational because it allows me to point out, okay, here's one, here's, here's a person.

[00:04:43] Here's how they're, um, essentially. Using propaganda to deflect attention from the repressive nature nature of the Chinese communist party. The problem is since we don't actually understand propaganda or, or recognize it when we see it, because it's, it's done. [00:05:00] So, um, so, well then it makes it very difficult for people to, to, to judge between what is true and what is false.

[00:05:07] Yeah. And, and, and there's a lot of things that have happened in our own society. And I, and I. Um, strongly put in place there by the, the Russians during the, the air, the time when they were using active measures. And of course the Russians still do that today. That has kind of created this ability in our society to have.

[00:05:26] Um, what they, what I call atomization. So they, the Russians do this, um, this type of influence. It's really about creating internal conflict in societies and they do it all over the world. And so they, it's very easy. And, and atomization, what you wanna do is, is create, you know, the idea of a. You know, a difference within your society like you and I are different.

[00:05:49] And, and because, um, you're different than you're somehow bad. That's, that's really the part is that the heart of what they were doing in 2016, that's exactly what they were doing. And, um, and [00:06:00] so when you think about what the Chinese do, it really works. It, it it's symbiotic in a way, because you know, when the Chinese communist party is brought into that mix, then they can use a lot of those same technologies, like, oh, you're just being a.

[00:06:15] Well, um, it, that, and that stuff has already kind of been, you know, planted in there. And so it isn't, it is, um, in addition to the obfuscation that they already do. So it is, it is interesting that, um, there's a lot of things that these regimes do that, um, are complimentary in a sense, um, and, and actually have worked within our own society.

[00:06:37] I mean, You have to realize that because they're so plugged into our system where, um, our government kind of has a hands off approach to, uh, media and, and the internet. Right. And they have a very hands on approach. Then it is a very, you know, ripe, you know, venue for them to come in and begin to [00:07:00] manipulate it in ways that actually promote their own interest.

[00:07:03] The less you can have people focus on the Chinese communist party. the better it is for them because that aids in their obfuscation and, and in the same way, you know, as I think about it from a, from a conflict or confrontation standpoint, you know, as I was a B2 pilot, that's you always want a, a great amount of noise out there.

[00:07:23] Right? The more noise, the easier it is for you to hide underneath the noise. You know, when there's more noise, those things come to light more easily. And so te people tend to be focused on those. It's a whole idea about the dog and the squirrel, right? If you got the squirrel over here and you're kind. Um, you know, going around here then you're, you can, you can, um, you can do a whole lot of things.

[00:07:47] So are right out in the open right in front of your face. Like, like another example of this is, I don't know if

[00:07:53] you've

[00:07:53] Gen. Spalding: seen it before, where, um, you do this exercise where these guys are passing a basketball and the gorilla and there's guy in a gorilla [00:08:00] suit and he comes and. Waves. And then you re you're trying to count the passes of the basketball and you never see the guy.

[00:08:06] Yeah. That walks right in front of waves, his hand in a gorilla suit. It's just, so this is classic. The way this thing works, the, the Russians are basically passing the basketball and the Chinese are going like this with the, with the gorilla suit. And, and when you, so what happened for me? I never saw the gorilla right up until 2014 and I'm sitting in my cubicle in the Pentagon and I open up this presentation and it's like, boom, I take the red pill and all of a sudden the gorilla's there and then I can't stop seeing it.

[00:08:38] Yeah. And so really what this book's about is, you know, I wanna give people that opportunity to see the gorilla right. To really recognize it's there and then decide for themselves what the hell they need to do about it.

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