J. Michael Waller Discusses Russian Political Warfare With Glenn Beck

Center for Security Policy, October 10, 2018:

J. Michael Waller, the Center’s Senior VP for Government Affairs, was interviewed by Glenn Beck on TheBlaze about issues related to Russia. Watch the videos below:



Center urges NATO countries to ‘exploit the vulnerabilities’ of Russia as non-military deterrence

Laying out an innovative strategy to counter and deter Kremlin subversion, the Center for Security Policy provided NATO countries with a new way to provide common defense against Moscow’s “hybrid threats.”

Center Vice President J Michael Waller told the thousand or so participants at the Riga Conference that NATO should “map out and exploit the vulnerabilities” of the Putin regime, the Russian gangster-state, and even the Russian Federation itself as non-military ways to defend against the Kremlin’s unconventional forms of aggression.

Those forms of aggression include subversion, disinformation and propaganda, and cyberwarfare. In its present structure and function, NATO has few defenses against hybrid warfare.

Waller also addressed Islamist subversion in the West, saying that when nations deny the truth about jihadist networks and attacks as they did after a truck attack on children across the Baltic Sea in Sweden, they deny Western values.

Participants at the annual Riga Conference included civilian and military officials from NATO member countries, Austria, Belarus, Communist China, Finland, Georgia, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries; as well as leaders of Russia’s internal opposition to the Putin regime.

Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis kicked off the two-day event in Riga. The small Baltic republic has taken the lead within NATO to develop unconventional, non-military defenses against Russian subversion.

“Latvia’s contribution to the alliance is important and unique,” Waller said. “It is a very small country with very limited means, and a front-line NATO member with a fresh memory of Kremlin occupation. It sees the world very differently than we do, and has low-cost, high-impact solutions that we Americans tend to overlook.”

The Latvian Transatlantic Organization, the Latvian Ministry of Defense, and the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sponsored September 28 and 29 conference.

Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmannis and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics invited Waller as the final speaker.

Waller shared the panel with Latvian State Secretary of Defense Janis Garisons, Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik, and Earl Howe, Minister of State for Defence of the United Kingdom.

America Under Siege: Soviet Islam

Published on Apr 28, 2017 by Capital Research Center

The war against terror begins at the Kremlin.

With President Trump executing missile strikes in Syria and radical Islamic terrorism being as big a threat as it ever has been, we need to understand how these oppressive regimes and extremist ideologies got started and empowered. Working with Dangerous Documentaries, director Judd Saul and conservative commentator have compiled a team of researchers who have uncovered the history of the Soviet Union’s meddling in Middle Eastern politics, creating a new enemy for the United States, and learned that Russia’s continuing alliance with Islamists is forwarding a radical domestic threat in America today.

“Soviet Islam” is the second episode in the five-part “America Under Siege” documentary web-series releasing over the course of 2017. Each episode profiles the influence of radical Marxists on various segments of American society.

Civil War 2017, First Episode of 5 Part “America Under Seige”


New Zeal Blog, by Teresa Monroe-Hamilton, January 19, 2017:

“Civil War 2017” is the first episode in a five-part “America Under Siege” documentary web-series to be released over the course of 2017. Each episode will profile the influence of radical Marxists on various segments of American society.

They’ve fought to stop the inauguration…

They’re fighting to destroy our nation…

While 700,000 protesters are converging on Washington D.C. for Inauguration Day — in addition to anti-Trump rallies planned in dozens of cities across the country — the political groups behind the protests remain shrouded in mystery. As Fox News Channel first reported, Civil War 2017 uncovers an extensive network of neo-Marxist operatives coordinating highly disruptive and potentially violent protests from coast to coast.

Working with Dangerous Documentaries, director Judd Saul and conservative commentator Trevor Loudon have compiled a team of researchers and undercover operatives to probe the roots of the anti-Trump movement, highlighting the ultimate goals and ulterior motives. Mr. Loudon, a regular contributor to Glenn Beck’s online programming, is the foremost expert on the left-wing organizers of mass protests.

FBI Training Questioned in Recent Terror Attacks

This notebook recovered in the arrest of suspected bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami mentions deceased al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki / AP

This notebook recovered in the arrest of suspected bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami mentions deceased al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki / AP

Washington  Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, Sept. 22, 2016:

Recent domestic terror attacks by Islamic extremists are raising questions among officials and security experts about whether FBI counterterrorism training is deficient.

The chief suspect in the New York City homemade bombing attacks last weekend, Ahmad Rahami, was probed for several weeks by the FBI in 2014 after his father alerted authorities to his terrorist leanings.

Rahami’s father, Mohammad Rahami, told reporters this week that he informed the FBI about concerns about his son after Rahami stabbed one of his brothers in a domestic dispute.

“Two years ago I go to the FBI because my son was doing really bad, OK?” the elder Rahami said. “But they check almost two months, they say, ‘He’s okay, he’s clean, he’s not a terrorist.’ I say OK.”

“Now they say he is a terrorist. I say OK,” Mohammad Rahami said.

The FBI acknowledged dismissing concerns that Rahami posed a terrorism threat. “In August 2014, the FBI initiated an assessment of Ahmad Rahami based upon comments made by his father after a domestic dispute that were subsequently reported to authorities,” the bureau said in a statement. “The FBI conducted internal database reviews, interagency checks, and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism.”

An FBI spokeswoman did not respond to questions about counterterrorism training.

Rahami is charged with setting off a bomb in downtown New York City that injured 29 people. Other bombs were planted nearby and in New Jersey. He was arrested after being wounded in a shootout with police.

Evidence gathered in the case reveals Rahami carried out the bombing in support of the terrorist groups Islamic State and al Qaeda.

A notebook found on Rahami mentioned ISIS terror leader Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Syria last August. The terror leader was quoted by Rahami as instructing sympathizers to kill non-Muslims.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, plans to question FBI Director James Comey about its counterterrorism work at a hearing Wednesday.

“From San Bernardino to Orlando to the most recent terrorist attacks in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota, the United States has experienced a rise in radical Islamic terrorism and we must ensure that the FBI has the resources needed for its counterterrorism efforts in order to thwart these heinous plots and protect Americans from harm,” Goodlatte said in a statement.

Former FBI Special Agent John Guandolo said the FBI does not lack resources but has failed to understand the nature of the Islamist terror threat and thus has prevented proper training of counterterrorism agents over misplaced concerns of discrimination against Muslims.

“Obviously the FBI’s training program is catastrophically broken,” Guandolo said, noting the string of recent domestic attacks involving terrorists who were at least familiar to FBI counterterrorism agents because of indications they were linked to Islamists.

Six earlier terrorist attacks, among them mass murders at an Orlando nightclub and killings on a military base in Texas, were preceded by FBI investigations or inquiries into the attackers or their immediate family members.

The list of those recent attacks includes:

  • The 2009 shooting at a U.S. military recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas, by a Muslim extremist who had been investigated earlier by the FBI
  • The 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people. Hassan was known to the FBI in 2008 through communications he had with an al Qaeda terrorist in Yemen
  • The 2013 Boston Marathon bombings were carried out by two Islamist terrorists from Russia who were the subject of terrorism warnings provided to the FBI by the Russian government
  • The 2015 shootings at military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee, carried out by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, whose father had been placed on a terrorism watch list in the past
  •  The 2015 shooting in Garland, Texas, by two terrorists, one of whom was known to the FBI in 2009 as a potential terrorist
  • The 2016 Orlando nightclub killings of 49 people by Islamic terrorist Omar Mateen who was investigated twice by the FBI prior to the attack

Counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka said the FBI’s counterterrorism division has created excellent counterterrorism training courses since the 2009 Fort Hood attack.

“That is not the problem,” said Gorka, professor of strategy and irregular warfare at the Institute of World Politics. “The issue is the courses aren’t being held.”

Since last year, Justice Department funding for counterterrorism training was slashed by nearly 50 percent, Gorka said. As a result, the “Terrorism: Origins and Ideology” course designed specifically for Joint Terrorism Task Force members—whose mission is to catch people like Rahami before they kill—were reduced from eight courses per year to less than four.

“As a result our law enforcement officers are less prepared just as the threat has increased,” Gorka said.

Michael Waller, an expert on unconventional warfare, said the FBI is missing the bad guys in advance of their attacks due to a policy that prevents monitoring jihadists before they become violent.

“This policy began under the previous FBI director, Robert Mueller, and for years has had a chilling effect throughout the bureau,” said Waller, an analyst with the research firm Wikistrat.

Waller says the FBI made a strategic error after the September 11 terror attacks by reaching out to Muslim Brotherhood Islamists and their front groups in the United States to court “moderate” Muslims.

“That’s equivalent to the FBI asking the KGB for help in fighting Communist subversion and violence,” he said, referring to the Soviet-era political police and intelligence service.

“The administration’s whole approach to ‘countering violent extremism’ literally keeps avowed jihadists off the FBI watch list, as long as they are not ‘violent,’” Waller said. “So while the FBI does investigate some of these jihadis in advance, too often it lets them go, or misses them completely, until they murder and maim.”

Waller noted that any expression of Islamic extremism poses a threat to the Constitution because, whether violent or not, it advocates the overthrow of the U.S. government.

“Such individuals, by statute, are proper targets for arrest and prosecution,” he said. “The FBI’s job—like any federal agency’s job—is to defend the Constitution ‘against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ In this regard, the FBI has failed.”

The FBI did not have information about the terrorists in advance of last year’s shooting in San Bernardino, California, in which a married couple pledging loyalty to ISIS murdered 14 people. However, the couple had communicated privately on social media about waging jihad, or holy war, before the attack.

A common tie between the perpetrators of several recent Islamist terror attacks, including the New York bombings, was English-speaking online al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011 but whose recruiting videos are available on the Internet.

Awlaki was an inspiration behind the shootings at Fort Hood, San Bernardino, and Orlando, as well as the New York bombings, according to investigations of those attacks.

Court documents in the New York and New Jersey bombing case reveal that Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, had made “laudatory references” to Awlaki that were found in a journal he carried at the time of his arrest after a shootout with police.

Rahami also praised Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people during the Fort Hood attack.

The FBI complaint against Rahami indicates that he constructed several pressure cooker bombs planted in a two-state bombing spree. The bombs contained homemade explosives and were meant to be triggered remotely by cell phones.

Similar pressure cooker bombs were used in the Boston Marathon bombings. Plans on how to manufacture the devices have been published in an al Qaeda magazine called Inspire.

Guandolo, the former FBI agent, noted that the FBI complaint against Rahami states that he received “instructions of terrorist leaders” to “attack nonbelievers where they live.”

Additionally, Rahami stated in a personal journal that “guidance came [from] Sheik Anwar”—a reference to Awlaki.

“From whence did that ‘extremist’ idea come?” Guandolo said, noting that the Koran directs Muslims to “fight and slay the unbelievers where you find them and capture them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush.”

Rahami’s notebook ends with the passage that “the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets. Gun shots to your police. Death to Your OPPRESSION.”


Also see:

Today there will be a hearing of the Homeland Security Oversight and Management Efficiency subcommittee, looking at the failure to successfully identify the enemy in our current fight. Former HIPSC Chairman Pete Hoekstra and Anti-Islamist Muslim formers Zhudi Jasser and Shireen Qudosi will be going up against DHS hack and former Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee grievance monger George Selim and Pro-terror Islamist law professor Sahar Aziz. – David Shideler, follow @ShidelerK for running commentary on the hearing

Hearing: “Identifying the Enemy: Radical Islamist Terror.” livestream:

Understanding Subversion: Considerations for our special operations forces

aaeaaqaaaaaaaahdaaaajgmzyjm4mmizlty3ntitngi2zc1hytgwltuzotvkmthmoddmmqBy , September 14, 2016 (h/t Patrick Poole)

Paper & lecture delivered by J. Michael Waller at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, NC, September 12, 2016. Title: “Subversion: Non-Violent Warfare in an Age of Countering Violent Extremism.”


Subversion is an ambiguous form of conflict in war and peace that does not rely on violence. From the perspective of the target, subversion is so ambiguous – and often gradual and long-term – that American diplomatic, security, and military planners find it difficult to identify, recognize, understand, and neutralize. Subversion has a logic and process of its own that permits identification for defense and offensive purposes to Phase 0. This paper summarizes a larger concept paper to explore subversion for defensive and offensive purposes.


  • Subversion as a growing concern
  • What is subversion?
  • Subversion throughout history
  • Four main elements of subversion, as defined by DoD
  • CVE model excludes subversion
  • Conclusion

Subversion as a growing concern

As a nation that’s intellectually and physically equipped to deter and destroy violent adversaries through various degrees of physical force, how do we counter an aggressive adversary that is not waging violence?

Well before the current presidential campaign revived concerns about foreign subversion directed at the United States, the National Intelligence Council found that both state and non-state actors would rely more on subversion as a means of waging conflict. The NIC anticipated that “most intrastate conflict will be characterized by irregular warfare – terrorism, subversion, sabotage, insurgency, and criminal activities.”[1] The same can be argued about interstate conflict, especially concerning China, Iran, and Russia.

What is subversion?

DoD definition. DoD defines subversion as “actions designed to undermine the military, economic, psychological, or political strength or morale of a governing authority.”[2] The scope is understood as both tactical and strategic, the mode both overt and covert, and carried out by civilian and/or military entities but not limited to either. Under the DoD definition, then, subversion is a means of (1) military warfare, (2) economic warfare, (3) psychological warfare, and (4) political warfare. Official U.S. government references to subversion presently provide further definition. We will explore the DoD definition after discussing other definitions and historical contexts.

Definitional challenges. Subversion is both a tangible action and an intangible object, and in societies based on the free exchange of ideas and association, the idea can be difficult to grasp. Definition is difficult, sometimes reduced to “I know it when I see it.” But we don’t always know what to see. We don’t know what we don’t see. And oftentimes, we don’t see it when we see it.

Western societies have no doctrine of operative principles for waging or defending against subversion. The Soviets and Nazis did. Post-Soviet Russia, the People’s Republic of China, and the Islamic Republic Iran, as well as jihadist movements, certainly do.

DoD defines subversion in a military context suited to its role, but the concept is, at its core, a civilian one. But there is little understanding of, or consensus on, a civilian definition. Just as warfare is politics by other means in a Clausewitzian sense, subversion is politics in a Machiavellian sense. And politics is subjective.

Core features of subversion. Subversion occurs in a state or society that is in “neither war nor peace,” and that can be in either or both. It is most effective when considered a strategic asset or weapon, and not as a mere operational-tactical ancillary tool like PSYOP/MISO. Cultivation of subversive capabilities, especially from within or below, can require years or more to put in place. Subversion can be contained, shaped, neutralized, destroyed, or optimized. It can be employed in a manner similar to, or as part of, a use-of-force continuum.

One can conduct subversion overtly from above (also called “from without”) to achieve the defined goals, without the use of secret agents; and from below (or “from within”) to infiltrate and penetrate the targets from the inside, and undermine the targets to achieve the desired goals.

A key element of subversion is the planned infiltration of people, information, and ideas for the purpose of influencing the attitudes of target audiences, be they individual decision-makers or entire societies. Planned infiltration of people takes time – often well beyond the American electoral, fiscal, or operational military cycles that demand visible measurements of effectiveness. Thus those with a more patient geostrategic approach, like the Russians and Chinese, or a supernatural approach, like the Iranian regime and jihadist movements, have an advantage.

An act of violence against civilians without political intent is a crime, but it is not terrorism. Stealing classified information is a crime, but it isn’t espionage unless it involves a transfer of loyalty by providing the secrets to a foreign power. Likewise, social changes can be subversive of societal norms and ideals, but if they are not planned with specific intent, they are not subversion. They can become acts of subversion when elements exploit those changes for specific intent.

Transfer of loyalty. A main objective of subversion is to induce the target to make decisions against its own interests, and ultimately to transfer loyalty. As a former American practitioner noted more than a half-century ago:

Subversion is the undermining or detachment of the loyalties of significant political and social groups within the victimized state, and their transference, under ideal conditions, to the symbols and institutions of the aggressor. The assumption behind the manipulative use of subversion is that public morale and the will to resist intervention are the products of combined political and societal or class loyalties which are usually attached to national symbols, such as the flag, constitution, crown, or even the persons of the chief of state or other national leaders.Following penetration, and parallel with the forced disintegration of political and social institutions of the state, these loyalties may be detached and transferred to the political or ideological cause of the aggressor.” [3]

Unwitting collaboration. Some argue that subversion requires the unwitting collaboration of the target to facilitate the subversion itself. “Subversion is the proximate end of most political warfare, whether it is affected by agents, propaganda, or policy. Deception is so essential to subversion that the two words describe almost the same phenomenon,” according to Machiavelli scholar Angelo Codevilla:

“The paramount fact essential to understanding deception is that it requires cooperation between the deceiver and the deceived. Just as no one has ever been seduced or subverted against his will, seldom is anyone convinced that something is true that he does not wish were true. Hence the craft of deception and subversion lies mostly in discovering what the target wants to hear and to do. The essence of execution lies in providing just enough excuse for the target to deceive and subvert itself.” [4]

Subversion throughout history

Throughout recorded human history, subversion has played an important role in political, cultural, and military conflict.

The ancient Hebrews faced it in the Old Testament.[5] One of the earliest references to subversion of military strength and morale appears in the Old Testament, in which the Jews are defending Jerusalem from a Babylonian military offensive. As the siege of the city was underway, the prophet Jeremiah said that, due to the Jewish kings’ unworthy rule, it was God’s will that Jerusalem fall to the enemy, and the king of Judah be handed over to the enemy king. Jeremiah thus encouraged his own people to submit themselves to the invaders, the ultimate act of subversion.[6]

Sun Tzu (c. 544-496 BC) prescribed it in ancient China as part of his “acme of skill” to defeat the enemy without fighting.[7] The writers attributed to Kautilya (350-275 BC) described in great detail how to wage subversion to build and expand empires in ancient India.[8] The ancient Romans coined the Latin term subvertere, or “overturning,” to protect and expand their empire. It is from the Latin that our English terminology originates. Niccolo Machiavelli, living in the 15th century, is perhaps the most notorious – and truly subversive – theoreticians of subversion.[9]

In modern history, the Bolsheviks, who began their revolution as a subversive underground movement, and subverted the post-tsarist Russian provisional government thanks to a brilliant subversive move by the German general staff, raised the art to an industrialized form of statecraft. The methods the Soviet regime adapted, pioneered, and refined became a model for other subversive movements, regardless of ideology.

Now, let us look at how the DoD definition of subversion applies to concerns of today and the future.

Four main elements of subversion, as defined by DoD

Using the DoD definition of subversion as “actions” limited to undermine strength or morale, we will look at each of the four itemized elements. We can discuss specific substantiating examples beyond this paper.

Element 1: Undermining military strength or morale. The ambiguous undermining of military strength or morale can be done alone or in concert with un-ambiguous direct action, both non-violent and violent. This element of subversion erodes the will of target nations or societies to initiate or continue military action, take risks, and even to be strong militarily. It undermines force morale and civilian morale at home and abroad, and weakens the command and authority of military and civilian leadership. It undermines the will to deploy when necessary. It not only undermines the will or capability of warriors to fight; at the national strategic level it undermines the will to modernize forces, advise civilian leadership, or even exist at all. Quality subversion can even undermine the proper recruitment, training, and indoctrination of those warriors in the first place – or to waste resources by recruiting the wrong people, and training and indoctrinating them to their detriment.

Element 2: Undermining economic strength or morale. Economic sanctions and blockades are forms of overt economic warfare, and may even be considered casus belli or acts of war. The subversive side of undermining economic strength or morale can come in the form of influencing decisions of foreign government of business figures to damage their own economic interests by inducing them to make self-defeating decisions. Deliberately causing or exacerbating inflation, currency devaluation, runs on banks, capital flight, disinvestment, unemployment, and the secondary strains of increased welfare spending and other social costs, can be acts of economic subversion.

Element 3: Undermining psychological strength or morale. This element of subversion is a component of psychological warfare, but is different because it can be used for purposes apart from war. It has little to do with military information support operations (MISO), which used to be called psychological operations (PSYOP). PSYOP/MISO, as the United States practices it, is almost exclusively tactical-operational in nature and usually directed at combatants and civilians in limited combat areas, instead of at senior decisionmakers or entire societies for prolonged periods. Psychological strength or morale of leaders and societies can relate to the electrochemical reactions within the human brain, and may not be a matter of military capability, economic power, or political will. It involves leveraging elements of the targets’ culture, law, sociopolitical traits, emotions, morals, and values. Manipulating the psychological state of individual leaders or entire nations, in times of hot war or otherwise, is perhaps the most subversive of all.

Element 4: Undermining political strength or morale. Undermining political strength or morale, much like undermining physical or material capabilities, can alter political realities to achieve desired objectives. It can achieve potentially the same (or even superior) results as military action, with much lower human and material costs. Invading a country is not necessary when one can accomplish the same objective by influencing the decisions or its leaders – or changing its leadership – from the inside. History offers hundreds of examples of short-, medium-, and long-term successes here.

CVE model excludes subversion

Because it is generally not violent, subversion sits mostly outside the present countering violent extremism (CVE) model. Consequently, as a nation, we are not prepared to recognize and defend against the subversion of other regimes or movements directed at our capabilities and morale, even when certain subversive movements have exactly the same end state as violent enemies. Some of those movements wage non-violent warfare under a friendly face as a means of infiltrating societies for future revolutionary or violent action.

Even when such networks are visibly extreme, or deployed for extremist purposes, their actions might not be illegal, or we might be tempted to dismiss them as “moderate” because they are not presently using violence against our interests. Thus the CVE model can cause us to consider some extremists as tactical allies against violent forces like al Qaeda or ISIS. And while such tactical alliances may occasionally be necessary to achieve an objective, the CVE lens does not permit us to consider how to prevent those allies of convenience from achieving the shared end state of the violent extremists. This Western gap in mindset is a boon to subversion practitioners, yet is rather simple to resolve by developing indicators.

Countersubversion, counterintelligence, and beyond. Another mindset gap is that Western democracies, to the extent they consider it at all, tend to mirror-image subversion as what we understand as “covert operations.” And covert operations, by definition, are generally relegated to civilian intelligence services. So the United States and most of its major allies tend to consider countersubversion, if they consider it at all, as a role of their counterintelligence services.

That is because we tend to mirror-image. Subversion is not necessarily an intelligence function. Indeed, it can be argued that Russia, China, and Iran wage much of their subversion through entities that are not intelligence services at all. Even if our foreign adversaries’ subversion was primarily executed by their intelligence services, the U.S. and most of its major allies tend to equate “counterintelligence” with “counterespionage,” and thus reduce the counterintelligence function simply to fighting spies who steal secrets.

A useful aspect of the CVE approach is that it reestablishes a precedent by relying on the widest possible array of civilian agencies, and uniformed services both police and military, at every level of the federal governments and through many state governments.


Subversion is an ancient form of human conflict. It is both a military and civilian instrument, executed by state and non-state actors. Subversion is an ambiguous form of warfare from the eyes of the target, both in times of what Western societies traditionally view as “war” and “peace.”

Subversion is most effectively a strategic capability. That capability is to influence individual leaders and governments, as well as entire nations and societies at Phase 0 and onward. It can be employed in a manner to, or as part of, a use-of-force continuum.

Democratic nations and societies generally have little consensus on how to define subversion as a civilian issue, and generally limit their understanding to the military sphere and asymmetrical or hybrid warfare. They tend not to wage subversion and have constructed few defenses against it. Nations, societies, and movements with little or no democratic tradition tend to show a profound understanding of how to wage subversion.

Democratic nations, however, can develop their own defensive countersubversion and offensive subversion capabilities without compromising their principles. To do so, they will have to move beyond the CVE model. That means countering extremists who are not yet violent, and countering “moderates” who share the same end goals as the violent extremists. It also means developing countermeasures to subversion that governments such as Russia, China, and Iran wage against the United States and its allies and interests worldwide.

Without mastering subversion as a strategic instrument of conflict, the United States will not prevail against present and potential adversaries who have done so. The good news is that subversion is not a difficult concept for us to master.

[1] National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, NIC 2012-001, December 2012, pp. 59-60.

[2]DoD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms: http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/dod_dictionary/data/s/7348.html. Emphasis added.

[3] Paul W. Blackstock, The Strategy of Subversion: Manipulating the Politics of Other Nations (Quadrangle, 1964), p. 44. Emphasis added.

[4] Angelo Codevilla, “Political Warfare: A set of means for achieving political ends,” in J. Michael Waller, ed., Strategic Influence: Public Diplomacy, Counterpropaganda, and Political Warfare (Institute of World Politics Press, 2008), p. 217.

[5] Some scholars argue that many Old Testament figures, especially the Deuteronomist prophets, were subversive of ruling civil authority, particularly monarchs who claimed a divine right to rule. See Rex Mason, Propaganda and Subversion in the Old Testament (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1997).

[6] Jeremiah 32:1-5.

[7] Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. and ed. Samuel B. Griffith (Oxford University Press, 1971).

[8] Kautilya, The Arthashastra, translated into English (Penguin, 2000).

[9] Of all the excellent translators of Machiavelli, one of the most insightful in terms of understanding the subversive mindset is Angelo Codevilla. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (Rethinking the Western Tradition), trans. and ed. Angelo Codevilla (Yale University Press, 1997).

J. Michael Waller was the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC., where he directed the nation’s only graduate program in public diplomacy and political warfare. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy.

WikiLeaks Game Can Turn Kremlin Fortress Into Glass House

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow on August 11, 2016. (ALEXEI DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow on August 11, 2016. (ALEXEI DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

Forbes, by J. Michael Waller, Aug. 16, 2016: (h/t Kyle Shideler)

For the first time since the 1950s, Russian subversion of the American political process has become a presidential campaign issue.

The Kremlin’s latest act of espionage-driven propaganda–document dump of Democratic National Committee emails via WikiLeaks–achieved its desired effect of immediate politicization. We should step back to learn two lessons, and creatively fight back.

The first lesson

Lesson one: Moscow’s subversion of American democracy is nothing new. The Soviet KGB and its successor entities have picked favorites in the past, and at crucial points in history, some American politicians and officials wittingly or unwittingly collaborated. One need only look at the Soviet penetration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration through controlled agents of influence. FBI reports and congressional hearings at the time, Communist defectors and turncoat Soviet intelligence officers, and more recent revelations from Soviet archives and the U.S. Army Signal Corps’ decrypted Venona transcripts prove this beyond any doubt.

Present-day political figures also colluded with the Soviets against their own country. A shining example is Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). In the 1980s, after honeymooning in the USSR, Sanders collaborated with the U.S. section of the World Peace Council, a major Soviet front organization that was working to push America to disarm unilaterally and surrender allies to Soviet aggression.

In ways far more damaging than Sanders’ fringe activism, distinguished members of the Clinton political clan benefited from relations with the KGB. The two primary Russia hands for Bill Clinton’s administration owed their political or professional fortunes to Soviet agents. The first was vice president Al Gore, whose father, also a senator, benefited greatly from his special relationship with Soviet agent Armand Hammer in a way that arguably groomed the younger Gore to lead Clinton’s Russia team. The second was Bill Clinton’s roommate at Oxford, Strobe Talbott, who as a cub reporter for Time magazine in Moscow, received the break of his life from Victor Louis, a KGB agent whose job was to recruit rising star journalists. We don’t know whether Talbott allowed the KGB to compromise him, but when asked about it during his Senate confirmation hearing to become deputy secretary of state in 1994, Talbott declined to answer.

Lesson two

The second lesson from the DNC WikiLeaks affair is that history shows that when American leaders resist and make Moscow pay a price, the Kremlin backs off. Strategic-minded leaders, as President Ronald Reagan proved, can even turn tables on the perpetrators and defeat them.

Which is why we should be focusing, not on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but on the current commander-in-chief. Barack Obama has done nothing to discourage Russian misbehavior that led to the WikiLeaks dump. His passivity arguably encouraged it. He now has the pretext to do something.

Obama is the only person on earth who can respond in-kind to the Putin regime’s egregious intervention in the American democratic process. Putin and his inner circle are vulnerable to exposure of their own shameful actions, habits, actions and fetishes. In the electronic age, the Kremlin fortress has become a glass house.

Next steps

For starters, Obama should order the intelligence community to compile properly-sanitized dumps of emails and social media among select targets in Putin’s inner circle. The personal electronic communications should expose the widely-suspected but seldom proven details of the staggering corruption at the top of the Russian gangster state, including Putin’s family members and loyalists. Judiciously selected, the exposures will show Putin and others that we, too, can play hardball.

If disciplined enough, the U.S. can outplay the Putin-WikiLeaks team. Russia’s political system is far less resilient than ours. The increasingly-centralized yet divided Russian Federation is potentially much more fragile and vulnerable to public exposure of the colossal scale of greed and organized criminal behavior of its national leadership.

And then there are national cultural norms that no present Russian leader could politically survive once the glass of invincibility is electronically shattered. Above almost all else, Putin nurses a deep-seated hostility to male homosexuality. Putin-centric political elites could never endure the humiliation and ridicule following a skillful intelligence dump of their private emails, text messages, social media posts, photos and Web browser histories.

No doubt Putin and his inner circle anticipated a cost-free scheme to embarrass Hillary Clinton and, by extension, Obama. If that is the case, all Americans who strive for political authority are wearing an electronic “kick me” sign on their backs. They should expect Russia and other powers like China to be scooping up and storing their electronic communication for future use. We can’t allow that to continue.

For the sake of America’s democratic society, Obama must strike back hard at Putin and his inner circle. Now.

Mr. Waller is a founding editorial board member of NATO’s Defence Strategic Communications journal. His books include “Secret Empire: The KGB In Russia Today.”