The Chinese Cyberattacks: What Alexander Hamilton Would Say – and What He Would Do

If Alexander Hamilton were alive in our time, he would have plenty to say about the seemingly endless Chinese cyber-espionage on US defense assets, which even the Defense Science Board, an advisory group to the Pentagon, admits has caused “staggering losses” to US national security.

As the Board put it in a recent report:“DoD and its contractor base have already sustained staggering losses of system design information incorporating decades of combat knowledge and experience that provide adversaries insight to technical designs and system use.”

In other words, we have just seen the biggest theft of US defense secrets since the Soviet penetration of our nuclear program in the 40s–and who knows if the wave of hacks is anywhere close to ended.

Alexander Hamilton, of course, is typically remembered not for his military thinking, but rather for his economic and political thinking. Yet he was always concerned with matters of military necessity and grand national strategy.

At the age of 20, he dropped out of college to join a pro-independence militia. Soon thereafter, he became George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the American Continental Army.

After years at Washington’s side as a staff officer, Hamilton thirsted for combat glory on the battle line, and so, in 1781, he left headquarters and took command of an American battalion on the front line. At Yorktown, on October 14, 1781, he led a nighttime attack that captured a British redoubt; it was a turning point in the battle. The British army under Cornwallis surrendered five days later, and the Revolution was won.

Yet even though Hamilton himself had proven that physical bravery was a vital part of winning a war, he also understood that technological mastery, too, was vital. The rebellious colonies, he realized, had been at a distinct disadvantage throughout the war, lagging in the production of such vital military wares as naval artillery, muskets, and gunpowder.


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