John McLaughlin served the last two Presidents as Deputy Director of the CIA, capping a three decade-long career at the Agency. During that time, he held pivotal positions at moments of enormous historical significance and possesses insights on foreign affairs, intelligence operations, and crisis management that come from operating at the highest levels of the government.
Challenges Facing the Intelligence Community in the 21st Century
Having operated at senior levels of the intelligence community during both the Cold War and the post 9/11 era, McLaughlin has a keen appreciation of both the past, present, and future challenges facing US intelligence. He argues that America’s intelligence community has come through a dramatic period of transformation and now faces demands every bit as important and difficult as anything in its history – a point he illustrates by tracing recent events around the globe. These range from immediate needs, such as fighting global terrorism, to more strategic imperatives, such as gauging the intentions of China and other rising powers and mapping future global trends in population, energy, and technology. The question hanging over all of this, he argues is: “Will this be an American century, as the last one most assuredly was?” – a question that intelligence will have to help answer.
The Changing Face of Terror – a Post 9/11 Assessment
The intelligence leadership positions McLaughlin has held since the late 1990s have given him a unique perspective on the war against global terrorism. He charts the changes that have occurred in both the US government’s approach and in the terrorist camp. The net result, he notes, is that global terrorism is in some ways now less dangerous and in other ways more dangerous. This calls for an evolving set of policy responses on both a tactical and strategic level if we are to meet the challenges of what seems certain to be a “long war”.
Managing Change in the Midst of Crisis
Any intelligence veteran is no stranger to controversy and crisis. When they occur, they must be met and effectively managed, while also forging ahead with the mission at hand. McLaughlin has been in key management positions in the midst of everything from the wrenching downsizing of our intelligence services in the 1990s to the emergency response requirements flowing from the 9/11 attacks. The lessons he has taken from all of this have immediate application across a wide range of fields in this era of globalization, technological change and human resource challenges.
John E. McLaughlin is currently the Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University. Over a three decade career with the CIA Mr. McLaughlin has worked on nearly every part of the world, frequently briefed the President and the Congress, represented the intelligence community in meetings of the National Security Council, and traveled widely to strengthen U.S. relations with national security counterparts in numerous countries. He continues to testify in Congress and to participate in public policy debates through Op-Eds in major newspapers and the broadcast media.