The Trump administration’s National Cyber Strategy rests on a pair of convenient fictions.
I used to think we didn’t have enough strategic documents guiding U.S. cyber policy. Now I think we have at least one too many. In September, the Trump administration published a National Cyber Strategy—proudly declaring that it was the first fully articulated cyber strategy in 15 years. This week, the annual intelligence threat hearing laid bare the fantasy world of that four-month-old document and the cold hard reality of, well, reality.
The National Cyber Strategy paints an aspirational view of how the U.S. is doing in cyberspace and what we should do in the future. To be fair, aspirational isn’t all bad. Strategy documents need to inspire, not depress. And the strategy’s four pillars seem as unobjectionable as motherhood and apple pie: defending the homeland and America’s way of life; promoting American prosperity; preserving peace through strength; and advancing American interests. Who could argue with that? The best strategies articulate a future world, lay out a pathway to get there, generate new ideas, and align the disparate elements of government on a common path to succeed. Given how hard it is to keep the government lights on these days, getting on the same page about anything is a big deal.