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Hagel: 'Chaos and Instability' Would Rule Without UN, NATO

(Defense Department photo)

WASHINGTON — Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said if the United Nations and NATO become irrelevant to the “21st century world order” then “chaos and instability” will soon follow.

“We are seeing a post-World War II world order now shifting into a new 21st century world order. And history instructs us quite well on this point that world orders don’t stay the same or remain because challenges shift, dynamics shift, geopolitical and economic interests and powers shift,” Hagel said at Sasakawa USA’s 3rd Annual Security Forum in Washington.

“So what is occurring is an adjustment and an adaptation to what the great powers built after World War II and that certainly includes Japan and the United States — that world order was predicated on alliances of common interest and we all together during that 10-year period after World War II built all of these new coalitions of common interests — a number of new treaties came into force,” he added.

If institutions like the UN and NATO do not remain relevant, Hagel said the world would experience “chaos and instability.” Hagel predicted that alliances would remain important despite some challenges.

“And I believe we’re living through one of those periods where these adjustments are now taking place. They’re imperfect, they’re dangerous, but alliances have always been important in history. But I think they are going to continue to be as important as in any time in the history of man – and this alliance, the Japanese-American alliance, is particularly important,” he said.

Hagel said the U.S. alliance with Japan is essential since the entire Western Hemisphere borders the Pacific Ocean.

“President Obama’s rebalanced Asia-Pacific was in no way meant to be nor was it ever articulated this way, but unfortunately, I think, became misrepresented as a retreat from the parts of the world and that’s not the case — that will not happen because clearly our interests are served not only in Asia-Pacific but around the world,” he said. “And there’s no other part of the world that doesn’t connect to or affect every other part of the world.”

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff stressed the importance of the U.S. and Japan dedicating more resources to cybersecurity threats.

“There are examples of cases where, for example, an HVAC contractor getting into a heating system or a cooling system has introduced malware that affects the core of a network, or someone hacked into a thermostat that was wirelessly connected to a database and used that as the entry point, so this challenge is only going to multiply over the years to come. Now this is one that every global actor has to worry about,” he said.

“Of course, Japan and the United States are very much in that category. Partly that’s because Japan in particular lives in a dangerous neighborhood. North Korea has demonstrated time and again its willingness to disregard even minimal norms of behavior. We’ve seen that obviously with the nuclear testing but we’ve seen it again with respect to the Sony hack,” he added.

Chertoff said there is always a possibility that Japan’s neighbors such as North Korea and China could decide to focus more attention on Japan. Chertoff said the upcoming Olympic games are one reason for the U.S. and Japan to address potential cybersecurity threats.

“I will tell you from my own experience, you always think you have more time to prepare for these big events than you actually do. The Olympic Games attracts a lot of good attention, but it also attracts some bad attention as history shows,” he said.

“As we get into 2020, it’s likely there will be a highly networked set of communications capabilities that are around the Olympics as well as people bringing their own electronics and tapping into wireless and other kinds of networks. And that raises the issue of making sure cybersecurity, just like physical security, is an important ingredient in preparation for the Olympics and it’s not too soon to start,” he added.

Chertoff asked Suzanne E. Spaulding, under secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at the Department of Homeland Security, about the role of the private sector in protecting the public from foreign hackers. Spaulding said law enforcement is there to protect the public from criminals but that responsibility does not “absolve you from locking your doors and having appropriate locks on your windows.”

“You’re in a better position to make sure you are securing your own home than your community law enforcement folks are unless you want them coming around and checking your doors all the time, so that I think is the more appropriate analogy,” she said.

Spaulding said there should be some limits on actions the private sector can take to prevent cyber attacks and to retaliate.

“Certainly hack back is probably one of those things that has a high probability of unintended consequences,” she said.