The Economist magazine praises Bill Burns leadership at CIA. His long career as a Foreign Service officer at the State Department has prepared him well for his position at CIA, where he has been one of the most important people managing our relationship with Putin’s Russia, where he served as ambassador. He approved the leaking of intelligence about Russia’s intentions before its invasion of Ukraine, despite the CIA’s usual inclination to keep its classified information out of public view.
The Economist cites his long experience in foreign policy and the cultural insights he has gained in his foreign assignments. He is working well with the other foreign policy leaders in the Biden administration, Tony Blinken at State and Jake Sullivan at the National Security Council.
The article points out three of Mr. Burns’ outstanding qualities:
- Deep subject knowledge – In contrast to the lack thereof by foreign policymakers in the Trump administration. The article says, “Mr Burns represents a tradition of serious American diplomacy that has been under appreciated by American policymakers.”
- Institutionalism – A loyalty to the organization that he is part of, restoring the pride of the CIA, which the Trump administration had undercut.
- Collegiality – His ability to work with his counterparts like Jake Sulivan and Tony Blinken.
The article says that Burns enjoys the best access to the President that any CIA chief has had since Bill Casey, who was Reagan’s campaign chief before he was CIA director.
As a retired Foreign Service officer I am pleased to see this recognition for another (more capable) Foreign Service officer. So many good FSOs left the State Department, or were forced out, during the Trump adminisitration, it is good to see at least one make a notable comeback.