The 2016 election cyber-war was the last alarm for the United States to protect its information, its media and its democracy.

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The 2016 Presidential election revealed the truth of the cyber-war by the adversaries of the United States. How did it happen? How did we let it happen? It’s simple. We accepted the cyber trojan horse into our routine public news and polls, and then they went to work. Do we have the time, the will and the creativity to stop it, now?

The Margin of Error War is a tale of factual events, actual countries, some real people, with my imagined analysis of how the deed was done. We know the goals and activities of most every country around the world. We know which countries have been hostile to the US and the methods they use to counter or subvert the US. The overall context of the book is factual, but this particular diagnosis is my hypothesis of what I believe happened behind the scenes and between the lines.

  • The main adversaries of the US in this book is China, which began its war on the west after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. A youthful cadre of Chinese realized that a conventional war with the West was a lose-lose, but that China could compete by exploiting the weaknesses of the West, initially through economics. The first battle, largely won by China and its proxy countries, was to be the low-cost outsourcing agent, acquiring US jobs, capital for their own infrastructure, and reapply Us money for further leverage by owning US debt and assets. That was stage 1 for over 20 years.                                                                                                              

  • Stage 2 became the central thesis of The Margin of Error War. The advent of the internet and digital communications was new, and offered a level playing field for everyone. Every country started from the same place on the first day of the internet. China realized it could focus its resources to master the capabilities of the new technology. And China, Russia and others saw the opportunity to use the new tech in ways that were already familiar – control, while the West focused using the technology on its obsession– profit.                                                                                              

  •  China knew that overt communications intrusions would be discovered and counterproductive. But subtle influences could shape US public information, policies and that subsequent outcomes could be considered reasonable, even if undesirable. Small but guided shifts in increments would, over the long-term, shape US policies to benefit China. To oversimplify, information manipulation would be within the statistical margin of error. For example, if the results of the election turned out in favor of the candidate that had been trailing, but within the margin of error, all the blame would be on the pollsters and the media. And the methods that could be applied to directing public opinion could also create fear and chaos and divisiveness, on any and every economic, social and political issue in the United States. Repeat this process over years, over thousands of political, social and economic campaigns and trends, and eventually you will have enough winners to achieve your goals.            

  • But 2016 is what I call the Oops! Year. Russian intervention with their cyber terrorism and hacking of political files, pulled back the proverbial curtain hiding what was going on. Russia found the perfect storm of the convergence of technology, existing US internal conflicts, unfettered social media and the perfect patsy candidate in Donald Trump. China was not happy about 2016 revealing the extent of margin of error warfare, but they were satisfied that Russia took most all the visible blame.

In this book I took the approach to reverse engineer what we know to find the missing steps or ingredients, that enabled our adversaries to take control of American institutions through the simplest the cleverest use of digital news. Reverse engineering was easy. I worked backwards, starting with the hypotheses of moving from what we know happened to what I believe happened. Working backwards:

4. The known and negative outcomes in the election and -warfare meddling.                     

3. We know the information warfare tools that were used by our adversaries.


2. We know the goals of our adversaries to regain prominence, economic power and global leadership.                                                            

1. We know who our adversaries are around the world, China, , North Korea... and more.

 What happened in the shadows and in the cloud, that was successfully used by adversaries and undetected by the US ?

Are you uncertain about my hypothesis? Don’t believe me, remember the numbers. There are even more starting results in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. A little nudge went a long way to shift the elections.


There are lots of real problems in the world and are not all created by or aggravated by our adversaries. At least not directly. But there is exquisite, digital propaganda and communications and media efforts that can and will influence people’s opinions and political and policy decisions.

We need to identify the dots, connect them, and identify the unconnected but emerging dots with a better way of connecting them as we go forward.

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