Carafano speaks on Cyber Warfare


Leading expert in national security and foreign policy, Dr. James Carafano, visited Ashland on Jan. 25 to speak at a colloquium hosted by the Alexander Hamilton Society and the Ashbrook Center.

Carafano is the vice president of the Heritage Foundation’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. He spoke on “Defense and Technology: What the Future of Cyber Warfare Holds for Us”, which shared an inside look at technology that exists and how it is affecting the American democracy.

His responsibilities at the Heritage Foundation include directing a team of experts in the field of foreign and defense policy in the front lines of international affairs.

The colloquium brought together most members of Ashbrook as well as interested community members. Joining the scholars and professors at the event was the new Executive Director of the Ashbrook Program, Dr. Chris Flannery. He spoke a few introductory remarks, introducing himself to the crowd around him, many seeing him for the first time.

Many members of Ashland’s Greek Life attend the events as well (since they hold a large portion of scholars), including Juliet Touma who is a member of Delta Zeta.

“I thought he was a very interesting and lively speaker. He was truly passionate about cyber warfare and security, and it really showed throughout his speech. He popped in jokes whenever he could and knows how to read a room. His sense of humor was appreciated by all, and his knowledge has inspired me greatly,” Touma said.

Colloquiums hold a higher purpose than just gathering people together; the events teach students and faculty alike about topics that few people specialize in. Past events have taught attendees about Ernest Hemingway, capitalism, the judicial branch and watchdog responsibilities.

Megan Dorsett, an Ashbrook Scholar and sophomore, commented on how her previous conceptions of cyber warfare were incorrect.

“I really enjoyed the Ashbrook event on Cyber Warfare. It is a topic I did not know much about. The speaker did a great job of explaining how most of our preconceptions of cyber warfare are actually wrong,” Dorsett said.

But, what exactly is cyber warfare? What is there to fear from it? Carafano focused on the different countries racing to get to the greatest technological advancements, and in the process, the effects that has on their government, economy and military.

Carafano spent a significant amount of time in the Army. He is a 25-year veteran and who eventually claimed the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was head speechwriter for the Army Chief of Staff, which is the service’s highest-ranking officer.

Carafano also is president of Esprit de Corps, a nonprofit that focuses on informing citizens of veteran affairs.

In his speech, Carafano spoke about the public and private sector and how, from early on, it has been a bigger private sector and smaller public sector. Then it began to change during the industrial revolution because the government was expanding.

“As states became more powerful, as the modern economy grew, as technology expanded and the wealth and resources of society grew, and as states had an increase in capacity to harness that for the instruments of war, the balance shifted. We went from big private [sector], little public [sector] to big private, much smaller public.”

In the expansion of government, the main focus has been on military forces. Cyber security and military defenses go hand-in-hand; one cannot properly protect and defend without the other.

“The number one thing the government capacity expanded to control was the military. The number one element of sovereignty was the ability to protect and defend the state being controlled,” he said.

In an otherwise foreign concept to most scholars, Carafano added plenty of comic relief, making the topic more understandable and relatable. With his many jokes about Star Trek and Justin Bieber’s wedding, he gained a lot of appreciation from the students in the crowd.

Carafano mentioned how it is growing increasingly difficult to remain neutral in a biased world. Companies that try to share their ideas with other countries complicate the intentions for their product- the need to be claimed as an American company is necessary to remain in their stability.

“The notion that companies can have cutting-edge technology and be completely neutral in their political affiliations is an increasingly unsustainable fantasy. We’re going to get to a time here where companies have to make a decision on whether they’re an American company or not,” Carafano said.

According to Carafano, American companies have the upper-hand on technology and innovations. He placed the U.S. next to other countries in comparison of the cutting edge products used in military, space and in households.

“It’s never more of an exciting time to make public policy because I think this is more of an opportunity and not an obstacle. We still have some of the most cutting-edge innovation and technology in the world, and I think American technology and innovation can outpace anyone in the universe.”

He compared weather to a nonlinear system because weather patterns can be predicted, but the estimations will not be 100 percent accurate.

“Cyber is a nonlinear problem, meaning you can put in inputs of a problem, but you cannot predict outputs,” he said.

As long as the government sticks to Carafano’s saying, “never impose a non-linear solution on a linear problem,” there will be no issues in the way the system works.

In his closing remarks, he stated that by maintaining the public and private sectors, and taking advantage of the constant technological advancements, America will be able to outcompete any other country.

“I still think that democracy and good governance are the most effective instruments to limit bad things and enable freedom and liberty and allow innovation to preferate, so if we take these two systems and figure out how to keep them together without losing the genius of either of them, we can outcompete anyone in the universe,” he said.