Trump and Russia: No Clear Policy

By John Sipher

John Sipher worked for the CIA’s clandestine service for 28 years. He is now a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a co-founder of Spycraft Entertainment. John served multiple overseas tours as Chief of Station and Deputy Chief of Station in Europe, Asia, and in high-threat environments. He is the recipient of CIA’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal.

As we approach President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in the White House, it remains difficult to discern U.S. policy toward Russia.  The Administration has yet to articulate a clear policy, and its actions and words send mixed messages regarding American intentions toward Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

There is a concept in military operations called commander’s intent. Commander’s intent is a simple and concise expression of objectives, enabling troops to make individual and team decisions in the absence of direct orders.  A quote attributed to retired general and former CIA Director David Petraeus sums up the concept: “In the absence of guidance or orders, figure out what the orders should have been and execute them aggressively.”

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