In our previous jobs as CIA analysts, we wrote analyses on foreign countries, leaders, and other political figures for senior U.S. policymakers like the President and a small number of Cabinet-level officials. Current developments in the United States strike many as “through the looking glass,” and it might be a useful exercise to go all the way and consider American politics from the outside looking in. Using the fundamentals of intelligence analysis and “open source” reporting for our source, below we have prepared what a foreign intelligence service analysis of our country might look like. These types of analyses—for example the Presidential Daily Brief—are prepared as a dispassionate product but include the substantive judgments and assessments of the author’s analytic bottom line. We’ve attempted to approximate the types of information foreign analysts would be likely to include, as well as the nature in which such information might be characterized.
United States: Trump Populism Driving Tectonic Shift in U.S. Politics
It is highly likely that we are witnessing a tectonic shift in the conduct of U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy. A populist movement across the United States, driven by perceived corruption and inequality, culminated in the election of Donald Trump. As is typical of populist leaders, Trump is attempting to consolidate power within his immediate circle. Trump’s approach is to discard traditional policy-making processes, then amplify his choices through social media in order to garner support.