The concept of war is currently changing in the world.
“We used to think of conflict primarily in terms of militaries,” said Braden Allenby, Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics and President’s Professor of Engineering at Arizona State University. “You knew you were at war when the tanks rolled over the border. Now, it’s a different kind of question.”
Allenby said recent cybersecurity breaches and cultural influences from Russia will soon force Americans to reconsider their ideas of traditional warfare. At 12:30 p.m. Monday, July 16, in the Hall of Philosophy, he will share his expertise in “emerging military/security technologies and weaponized narrative” with Chautauquans.
His lecture, titled “Russia at the Gates: The Fall of the American Empire,” uses the current state of affairs between the United States and Russia to critically “look at the United States,” he said.
Allenby will present a number of claims and evidence to conclude that “the United States is far weaker than it appears,” and Russia’s interference with American culture and society have brought to light fundamental problems that Americans should focus on improving.
Allenby has been coming to Chautauqua Institution to give lectures for 12 years, and many of those lectures, like the one he will give on Monday, July 16, have been a part of the Lincoln Applied Ethics Series. He holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and master’s and doctorate degrees in environmental science from Rutgers University.
Allenby began to study military and security technologies five years ago. Since then, Russia has been successful in numerous instances of cultural interferences around the world, including their alleged interference of the 2016 U.S. elections. In that particular instance, Allenby said, Russia weaponized America’s pluralism in a cheap and effective manner, leading to significant geopolitical benefits for the country.
“Brexit and the American election are a completely different type of attack,” Allenby said. “(It) caught the British flat-footed (and) caught the Americans flat-footed. … The result is that Russia achieved huge geopolitical benefits.”
This type of attack has deepened “internal weaknesses” in the United States, according to Allenby.
“If you look at empires, it’s quite clear that they fail because of internal weakness and not external attack,” Allenby said. “In the case of the Americans, it’s interesting that the Russians are able to be so successful. Part of that is because they’ve played on American weakness.”
Allenby thinks that as the Democratic and Republican parties continue to clash over issues like gun control, Russia will continue to “weaponize pluralism” against the United States, hence playing on “American weakness.”
“If you look at the dialogue between Russia and the United States today, it’s a lot of Americans yelling at other Americans,” Allenby said. “Almost nobody is looking out at the Russians.”