In late March, Donald Trump sat down with a few reporters from The New York Times for a rare, in-depth interview about his foreign policy ideas. The conversation careened from Middle East alliances to nuclear weapons to trade pacts, touching briefly on the ever-more pressing topic of cyberwar. Trump said the U.S. lagged behind other world powers, and that the “inconceivable power of cyber” should figure “very strongly in our thought process.”
At the time, I called Trump’s responses half-baked. Now, far from being cooked through, his thoughts on cybersecurity and cyberwar seem to have deflated even further. At the Republican National Convention this week, the Times’ Maggie Haberman and David Sanger checked up on the ideas of the man who’s now the Republican nominee for president. Here’s what he had to say:
David Sanger: You’ve seen several of those countries come under cyberattack, things that are short of war, clearly appear to be coming from Russia.
Donald 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.
At that point, Sanger gave up and moved on to a new line of questioning.