Book review: Why Intelligence Fails – WSJ.com

When we hear the sound of hoofbeats, should we think horses or zebras? The question is a classic problem of intelligence analysis. Too often in recent years the CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security have got it wrong—most recently with the Christmas Day underwear bomber, who was able to board a U.S.-bound flight despite plenty of early warning signs. Political scientist Robert Jervis wants to know the reason for such error.

In “Why Intelligence Fails,” Mr. Jervis examines two important U.S. intelligence lapses and tries to account for what went awry. After both, the CIA hired Mr. Jervis—a longtime student of international affairs—to help the agency sort out its mistakes. He thus brings an invaluable perspective as a smart outsider with sufficient inside access to appraise the agency's blind spots.

The first of his two cases is the CIA's failure to grasp the weakness of the Iranian monarchy on the cusp of the Iranian revolution in 1979. “An island of stability” is what President Jimmy Carter called Iran just before the Islamic volcano erupted. No doubt the CIA estimates that Mr. Carter saw were not quite so ludicrously sanguine, but they were still dangerously inaccurate.

via Book: Why Intelligence Fails – WSJ.com.

  • journeyhome

    People believe what they want to believe and they see things in a way to support their own point of view – something that props up how they have organized internally the world and reality around them – it is a rare man that is objective, honest and doesn't thrive on stoking his ego – or quake at something or some one who challenges his beliefs. Until we produce those types of values AGAIN in our society and honor them in our schools and promote them in our businesses and institutions – we will all suffer at the hands of the over inflated blustering of the hyper ego, bully, loud mouth syndrome that postures honesty and objectiveness but operates by deceit and corruption – in other words honesty is all out of fashion – schmoozing and game playing to get to the top, lying, cooking the books, outlawing laws and fantasies of virtue where hypocrisy is blatant have crippled this country. Too bad for America that it has let the loud and aggressive trump the reasoned and objective. Too bad for america that it sold out its values to bully's and arrogance – too bad for america it let it's President get shot back in 1962 and we haven't been the same since.

    Back in high school I never turned the keys over to the loudest, biggest most aggressive tool because I knew we would only get in a wreck or pulled over. Not much about life has changed. Smarten up America being stupid isn't cool. Democracy and Capitalism are NOT the same thing.