Review: Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy – Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform

5 Star, Congress (Failure, Reform), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Intelligence (Government/Secret)
Amazon Page

Paul Pillar

5.0 out of 5 stars Four for Omissions, Six for Precision Relevance,September 22, 2011


Paul Pillar is speaking at Brookings Institute on Wednesday 5 October 2011 from 10:00 to 11:30, RSVP is required to 21DefenseInitiative[…]

I will attend that session. This alert will be deleted on 5 October.

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I have to give the book a solid five, not my norm by any means for books on the intelligence profession. It loses one star for eschewing deeper discussions of the lack of integrity across the intelligence system (to include George Tenet refusing to implement any of the recommendations of the Aspin-Brown Commission, or Jim Clapper continuing to do the wrong things more expensively than ever before), but abundantly compensates for those omissions with devastatingly fresh precision attacks on the political side of the house, where intelligence is generally irrelevant. This is, without question, the ONLY first class book on this topic, and it is certain to be of lasting value, along with a still relevant companion by Mort Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy; Second Edition, in which “rule one” is–I do not make this stuff up–“Lie to the President if you can get away with it.”

The killer quote that makes the book for me is from Richard Immerman, and appears on page 318:

“regardless of any benefit from reform of the intelligence community, ‘the effect on policy is likely to be slight so long as the makers of that policy remain cognitively impaired and politically possessed.'”


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