Scott Uehlinger, recently retired from his position as an operations officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, spoke at Lehigh about his experience in the Russian Intelligence Service and the necessity for American citizens to be aware of current events in Russia.
“Mr. Uehlinger has served our country as a U.S. Merchant Marine and most recently for the Central Intelligence Agency,” said Sheila Adler, a coordinator of the International Relations event. “He shared his incredible experiences with our faculty and students in an entertaining and interactive way and hopefully he has piqued the interest of those looking for professions in the CIA.”
During the lecture, Uehlinger stressed the importance of Americans staying up to date with what is going on in Russia, including the controversies and problems that affect the United States.
Uehlinger said that as American citizens, it is necessary to be aware of the activity and events occurring in Russia because it is the only country that could eliminate the U.S. in minutes. Russia’s technology and advanced weapons pose as a threat to the U.S. because America is the most developed and technologically advanced country in the world.
However, Russia’s advancement in creating powerful weapons surpasses the U.S., and therefore holds power over the rest of the world. Russia’s missiles and bombs are technological advances that no other country has yet to surpass.
However, Uehlinger addressed just how similar the mission of the Russian Intelligence Service is to the U.S.’s and believes that because of the power Russia is given, their abilities should not be undervalued. He explained how the Russians excel in the strategy of “disinformation” and the role that it plays within the Intelligence Service.
Uehlinger said disinformation is the “shaping and bending of outcomes.” In other words, this strategy helps to shape the future with other intelligence services. The power of disinformation is that it can make false information seem really plausible. He went on the explain that this strategy is even used negatively. For example, people often believe that Ukrainians and Russians are fascists because of the power and influence of disinformation, which causes people to believe something that is not true.
Uehlinger also brought some humor into his lecture when covering the topic of the “Hollywood” portrayal of the CIA and the reality. He started by debunking the myth that the CIA’s main job is overthrowing countries and establishing dominance.
In reality, “covert action,” or forceful overthrowing of countries is done to a far lesser extent than it is portrayed in Hollywood movies. However, Uehlinger did spew out a list of movies related to the CIA that he recommended and enjoyed during the lecture.
“They sounded pretty interesting even though they aren’t necessarily accurate depictions of the truth,” said Annie Coogan, ’16, an international relations major.
Uehlinger also debunked the myth that everyone in the CIA is an “agent.” He said this is false, and that no one is actually an agent, contrary to the glorified portrayal of what it’s like to work for Intelligence Services.
He also discussed a bit of Russian history, and made his opinion clear that Vladimir Putin was an unsuccessful leader. Historically, Russia has had a paranoia of being invaded by other countries, and as history points out the same mistake is being made.
“Stalin killed more Russians than Hitler did, write that down,” Uehlinger said.
Uehlinger’s risk-management acumen and communications skills make him excel specifically in a decision-making environment. He speaks many different languages, and has spent years communicating with government officials and leaders as well as a variety of foreign nationals.
He continued to explain that Russia is not afraid to use energy politics to get people to do what it wants. Within the Russian Intelligence Services, cyber-hacking has also been in a new method used.