MiB: Jack Devine on the CIA, Afghanistan & Russia



This week, we speak again with Jack Devine, a 32-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and the founding partner and president of the international risk consulting firm The Arkin Group. (my 2018 conversation with Devine is here) Devine is also the author of “Spymaster’s Prism: The Fight against Russian Aggression.”

Devine explains that the Russian military has made cyber warfare a priority. They have aggressively engaged in Agitprop. The goal is not to push any one narrative or candidate, but rather to sow confusion and discord. The 32-year veteran of the CIA and former Acting Director and Associate Director of CIA’s operations explains how we underestimate Vladimir Putin’s antipathy to the USA at our own risk.

America was already politically divided before the KGB began to weaponize social media, but they have continuously poured gasoline on the fire. The Internet Research Agency is an elite hacking agency and troll farm, their principal platform for executing GRU’s cyber efforts. Anywhere you see political discord in the US, the Russians are often there, seeking advantage by inflaming emotions to turn Americans against each other. From Ant-Vaxxers to Black Lives Matter to Q-Anon to Antifa and more, you can find evidence of Russia’s troll farms and bots. Effectively doing this can weaken America.

Putin plays both sides to make America more dysfunctional: Not only did the Russians hack the DNC and release embarrassing emails, but after Trump won, they helped drive the “Not My President” protests. The more unhappy, angry, and tribal people become, the less productive the nation will be. The Russians take advantage of where ever they can spot frictions to inflame and agitate. It is the modern version of psychological warfare

A list of his favorite books is here; A transcript of our conversation is available here.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business next week with Campbell R. Harvey, professor of finance at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. He is a partner and senior advisor at Research Affiliates. He is best known for his work on Yield Curve Inversion & Recessions. His most recent publication is a new book on crypto and blockchain: “DeFi and the Future of Finance.”




Jack Divine Favorite Books

Grant by Ron Chernow

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America by Walter R. Borneman

The Human Factor by Graham Greene






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