Donald Trump's controversial remarks on NATO are drawing headlines this morning, after the candidate told The New York Times he wouldn't necessarily defend allies under attack. But the full transcript of that conversation, published today by the Times, also showed a winding response from Trump to a question about cyberattacks. Trump says he's all for "cyber," although it's unclear from the conversation what exactly that means.
From the Times:
[DAVID E.] SANGER: You've seen several [NATO members in the Baltics] come under cyberattack, things that are short of war, clearly appear to be coming from Russia.
TRUMP: Well, we're under cyberattack.
SANGER: We're under regular cyberattack. Would you use cyberweapons before you used military force?
TRUMP: Cyber is absolutely a thing of the future and the present. Look, we're under cyberattack, forget about them. And we don't even know where it's coming from.
SANGER: Some days we do, and some days we don't.
TRUMP: Because we're obsolete. Right now, Russia and China in particular and other places.
SANGER: Would you support the United States' not only developing as we are but fielding cyberweapons as an alternative?
TRUMP: Yes. I am a fan of the future, and cyber is the future.
Previous entries in the Trump handbook of cyberwarfare include an earlier conversation with the Times, which went much the same way:
SANGER: The question was about cyber, how would you envision using cyberweapons? Cyberweapons in an attack to take out a power grid in a city, so forth.
TRUMP: First off, we’re so obsolete in cyber. We’re the ones that sort of were very much involved with the creation, but we’re so obsolete, we just seem to be toyed with by so many different countries, already. And we don’t know who’s doing what. We don’t know who’s got the power, who’s got that capability, some people say it’s China, some people say it’s Russia. But certainly cyber has to be a, you know, certainly cyber has to be in our thought process, very strongly in our thought process. Inconceivable that, inconceivable the power of cyber. But as you say, you can take out, you can take out, you can make countries nonfunctioning with a strong use of cyber. I don’t think we’re there. I don’t think we’re as advanced as other countries are, and I think you probably would agree with that. I don’t think we’re advanced, I think we’re going backwards in so many different ways. I think we’re going backwards with our military. I certainly don’t think we are, we move forward with cyber, but other countries are moving forward at a much more rapid pace. We are frankly not being led very well in terms of the protection of this country.
The United States is believed to actually have a potent cyber arsenal, as The Atlantic pointed out at the time that interview was published, although "inconceivable the power of cyber" is more difficult to argue against.