I served in the CIA for 28 years and I can tell you: America's screw-ups come from bad leaders, not lousy spies.
Foreign Policy, Jan/Feb 2012
“Presidents Make Decisions Based on Intelligence.”
Not the big ones. From George W. Bush trumpeting WMD reports about Iraq to this year's Republican presidential candidates vowing to set policy in Afghanistan based on the dictates of the intelligence community, Americans often get the sense that their leaders' hands are guided abroad by their all-knowing spying apparatus. After all, the United States spends about $80 billion on intelligence each year, which provides a flood of important guidance every week on matters ranging from hunting terrorists to countering China's growing military capabilities. This analysis informs policymakers' day-to-day decision-making and sometimes gets them to look more closely at problems, such as the rising threat from al Qaeda in the late 1990s, than they otherwise would.
On major foreign-policy decisions, however, whether going to war or broadly rethinking U.S. strategy in the Arab world (as President Barack Obama is likely doing now), intelligence is not the decisive factor. The influences that really matter are the ones that leaders bring with them into office: their own strategic sense, the lessons they have drawn from history or personal experience, the imperatives of domestic politics, and their own neuroses. A memo or briefing emanating from some unfamiliar corner of the bureaucracy hardly stands a chance.
Phi Beta Iota: Brother Pillar avoids the obvious – the excessive influence of the banks, military-industrial complex, and the Zionists, among others. CORRUPTION is our greatest enemy. Both parties are corrupt, and a third party (or Americans Elect) is not the answer–we need to restore the INTEGRITY of the entire process from election through governance through accountability.
Review: Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy – Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform
2010: Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Trilogy Updated
Journal: Politics & Intelligence–Partners Only When Integrity is Central to Both
Journal: Reflections on Integrity UPDATED + Integrity RECAP