America is losing the war on a digital battlefield, and is "totally unprepared" for what is coming as the 2020 election approaches, retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned Thursday.
In a commentary posted by Politico, Gen. McChrystal called for the creation of a nonpartisan, non-governmental Fair Digital Election Commission "to protect the integrity of our elections by detecting, exposing, evaluating, and remediating the impact of disinformation."
"Lies move quickly," he argued. "Divisions sown in society can irreparably divide us and cause individuals to turn against their neighbors, their communities and their country. We see it happening every day. Combating misinformation is not just about politics — it is about the survival of truth and the survival of our nation."
"Facts would be a terrible thing to lose, especially if we simply watch them disappear," he wrote.
According to Gen. McChrystal, the U.S. military is accustomed to waging and winning conventional wars with tanks, troops, and planes.
"But today's digital battlefield presents an entirely new landscape — one where state and non-state actors participate in a raging asynchronous information war that poses a serious threat to our democracy," he said, calling it "a war America is losing — badly."
"With the 2020 elections approaching, America is totally unprepared for what is coming because it will be like nothing we've seen before," he said. "Everyone is vulnerable, and everyone will be affected."
But the non-partisan, non-governmental Fair Digital Election Commission would be the only way to fight that battle, he wrote.
"The commission must demonstrate how false narratives — especially those propagated by foreign powers such as Russia — are impacting Americans' lives and influencing the outcomes of our elections," he said.
"Abraham Lincoln, long before he was president, said that as a nation of free men, the United States will either live forever or die by suicide," he warned. "That is what is at stake today."
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