JRL NEWSWATCH: “Spycraft and Statecraft: Transforming the CIA for an Age of Competition” – Foreign Affairs: William J. Burns

William Burns file photo, adapted from image at cia.gov

“… In a world in which the United States’ principal rivals — China and Russia — are led by personalistic autocrats operating within small and insular circles of advisers, gaining insight into leaders’ intentions is both more important and more difficult than ever. Just as 9/11 ushered in a new era for the CIA, so did Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. … Together [with intelligence partners], we provided early and accurate warning of the coming invasion. That knowledge also enabled the president to decide to send me to Moscow to warn Putin and his advisers in November 2021 about the consequences of the attack we knew they were planning. Convinced that their window for dominating Ukraine was closing and that the upcoming winter offered a favorable opportunity, they were unmoved and unapologetic — badly overestimating their own position and underestimating Ukrainian resistance and Western resolve. File Photo of CIA Seal on FloorGood intelligence has since helped the president mobilize and sustain a strong coalition of countries in support of Ukraine. It has also helped Ukraine defend itself …. The president has also made creative use of strategic declassification. Before the invasion, the administration, along with the British government, exposed Russian plans for ‘false flag’ operations … designed to pin blame on Ukrainians and provide a pretext for Russian military action …  den[ying] Putin the false narratives that I have watched him so often weaponize in the past. … Meanwhile, disaffection with the war is continuing to gnaw away at the Russian leadership and the Russian people, beneath the thick surface of state propaganda and repression. That undercurrent of disaffection is creating a once-in-a-generation recruiting opportunity for the CIA. We’re not letting it go to waste. While Russia may pose the most immediate challenge, China is the bigger long-term threat, and over the past two years, the CIA has been reorganizing itself to reflect that priority. …”

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