The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Nuclear War. WMD Terrorism. Climate Change.
These are the existential threats facing us in the 21st century. However, today's intelligence agencies are not sufficiently nor effectively addressing them. Why is this? What must be done to correct course?
In this seminar, former Intelligence Project Director Rolf Mowatt-Larssen will return to the Belfer Center to address these questions and present his latest project, "Rethinking Intelligence in a World of Human and Natural Weapons of Mass Destruction."
After 9/11, Rolf spent four years as the CIA's top WMD sleuth – tracking down terrorist actors seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This task required courage, creative thinking, and out-of-the-box ideas. Addressing today's existential threats requires the same.
So what can can be done to combat the existential threat of climate change? Maybe it takes an intelligence officer known for his innovative and unconventional ideas to figure it out.
Rolf Mowatt-Larssen is a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center, having served until July 2019 as Director of the Center's Intelligence Project. Prior to that he was also a Senior Fellow.
Before coming to the Belfer Center, Mowatt-Larssen served over three years as the Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to this, he served for 23 years as a CIA intelligence officer in various domestic and international posts, to include Chief of the Europe Division in the Directorate of Operations, Chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Department, Counterterrorist Center, and Deputy Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support. Prior to his career in intelligence, Mr. Mowatt-Larssen served as an officer in the U.S. Army. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He is married to Roswitha and has three children. He is a recipient of the CIA Director's Award, the George W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, the Secretary of Energy's Exceptional Service Medal, the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, Secretary of Defense Civilian Distinguished Service Medal, and the National Intelligence Superior Performance Medal, among others.