Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy by Paul R. Pillar
Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform

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Synopsis

Paul R. Pillar's twenty-eight-year career with the CIA and the National Intelligence Council showed him that intelligence reforms, especially measures enacted since 9/11, can be deeply misguided. They often miss the sources underwriting failed policy and misperceive our ability to read outside forces. They misconceive the intelligence-policy relationship and promote changes that weaken intelligence-gathering operations.

In this book, Pillar confronts the intelligence myths Americans have come to rely on to explain national tragedies, including the belief that intelligence drives major national security decisions and can be fixed to avoid future failures. These assumptions waste critical resources and create harmful policies, he claims, diverting attention away from smarter reform. They also refuse to recognize the limits of our knowledge. Pillar revisits U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War and highlights the small role intelligence played in those decisions, and he demonstrates the negligible effect America's most notorious intelligence failures had on U.S. policy and interests. He also reviews in detail the events of 9/11 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, condemning the 9/11 commission and the George W. Bush administration for their portrayals of the role of intelligence. He offers an original approach to better informing U.S. policy, which involves insulating intelligence management from politicization and reducing the politically appointed layer in the executive branch that interjects slanted perceptions of foreign threats. Pillar concludes with principles for adapting foreign policy to inevitable uncertainty.
 

About Paul R. Pillar

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Paul R. Pillar is visiting professor and director of studies in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He served in several senior positions with the CIA and the National Intelligence Council and is a retired army reserve officer. He is the author of Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy and Negotiating Peace: War Termination as a Bargaining Process.
 
Published September 27, 2011 by Columbia University Press. 434 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy

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A career intelligence officer reflects on the uses and abuses of intelligence and the agencies that gather it.

Jul 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Intelligence and U.S. Foreign...

The New York Times

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Bush, when “the politicization of intelligence tested new depths.” In the run-up to the Iraq war, he says, such politicization was “blatant and extensive,” involving “misleading rhetorical artifice” and “duplicity” through “tenuous and unverified reports” from “unproven sources.” That the adminis...

Sep 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Intelligence and U.S. Foreign...

The New York Times

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These twin “intelligence failures” — “a two-verse mantra,” Pillar calls them — were addressed by president and Congress with a noisily announced program of “intelligence reform.” The biggest change was to move intelligence headquarters into a different building under a new official with a new tit...

Sep 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Intelligence and U.S. Foreign...

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