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Thread: Relationship between the political system and causes of war (questions)

  1. #41
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Ken, I donít agree with the across-the-board categorization of analysts discounting HUMINT. There are elements within the military and the broader IC that have long understood and valued HUMINT collection. However, I have to say - excepting those areas - I agree with your point. My previous post really speaks to the ideal, and those elements I mentioned are really the only ones that tend to consistently approach the smooth workings that I tried to describe.
    All of what you say is true, Ted. But I would add three small but central points:

    a. The Post-Vietnam merger of the old Army Security Agency stove-piped structure with Military Intelligence meant largely that ASA took over tactical MI because it had an extant command structure that favored technical collection.

    b. Flowing from above, the bias toward technical collection brought with it an inherent bias toward greater intelligence structure at all levels and rewarded those who stayed inside that structure with promotions. That is the reason most MI generals have never been battalion or brigade S2s. It is also the reason that then XVIII Airborne Corps commander LTG Gary Luck told us on the Certain Victory team that the Army had spent way too much on MI for what we got from MI. His G2 by the way as a newly crossed over ASA Major was my very first company commander and then MI battalion XO. He never served a day in a maneuver battalion or brigade and was tactically illiterate.

    HUMINT is ---big surprise--human centric. That means the money costs are constant to sustain skills. MI had rather spend money building force structure. Funny MI is the same way toward sustaining tactical SIGINT language skills.

    c. MI has never been focused on analysis because that too is a human-centric skill. Besides MI officers get to general by managing MI force structure, not serving as analysts. If they do become G2s at division and corps they manage analysts. More collection in terms of more collection means is always the goal.

    Best

    Tom

  2. #42
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input everyone. After reading through these pages, I've come to realize the breadth and depth of the subject I'm trying to grasp. I'll have to tighten up my thesis somewhat to make sure I don't wander too far off course. Some of the thoughts expressed will also be helpful in developing my own awareness when I enter the field.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    J. Wolfsberger,

    But I will stick to the assertion that however good the other sources are, they can never completely replace HUMINT.
    I would take that further and suggest that, in general, the same can be said of any of the intelligence disciplines. Of course, much is situational and in a given situation one "int" may be inherently better at providing the needed information than another.

    John Fishel,

    For the most part I agree with you about the rational actor model in theory, but in practice it all too often results in failure. Even when we do have "a solid understanding of the explicit goals of the target" and use rigorous analysis failure is still frequent, but more often the model is simplistically used and is little more than a cover for mirror-imaging.

    As a case study, we can look no further than Saddam and Iraq. Dr. Gerrold Post's psychological profile of him back in 1990 proves reslilient today with the benefit of hindsight, yet we still critically misjudged what he saw as his greatest threats and his WMD decisionmaking - two factors that directly lead to war.

    So even if the rational actor model is judiciously applied huge errors in analysis still occur. The reason for this, in my view, is that analysts are inevitably forced to put themselves in an adversaries shoes to predict what they would do in given circumstances. The record of such prediction is not a good one unfortunately.

    More often, however, the model is not applied rigorously in day-to-day intelligence production because most analysts (particularly current analysts) simply don't have the level of expertise and intimate knowledge of the adversary to make even educated guesses. In these situations mirror-imaging is most often the rule rather than the exception and the model provides a false sense of security and false analytical rigor.

    This reminds me of Occam's razor, which is a dangerous tool for the intelligence analyst because of deception.

    Finally, I agree with you completely regarding HUMINT reporting. Fortunately, the system no longer uses inappropriately precise designations like "F6" - instead using a plain-language source description, but it's still difficult for the all-source analyst to determine the strength of the information in HUMINT reports. I hope those producing HUMINT reports understand how critical their insights and source descriptions are to the all-source analyst.

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    Default Hey Sam

    No, I'm not saying that the model always looks at the state being analyzed from that state's point of view. In fact, it is rare that the analyst has that kind of information. Most tyrants do not write their intentions into books as did Hitler. The problem for the realists like Chamberalin and Daladier was that they had not read Hitler or assumed that he did not mean what he said and, therefore, assumed his rationality was like that of any other European state. Most realist analysis operates that way asumming states act in their "objective" interest.

    No, I wasn't referring to Durkheim. I haven't read enough of him to be comfortable citing him.

    Finally, groupthink is always a danger but rigorous analysis and constantly questioning one's assumptions can minimize its negative effects. Not only do we have Irving Janis' groupthink concept but we also have the more conventional view that several minds are better than one alone. Both are, IMHO, true.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Default Hi Entropy

    I think that you and I are in basic agreement. What I am suggesting is not that the rational actor model - rigorously applied, of course, - is always a good predictor/explainer but rather that it is simply the best one available. I tend to think about its efficacy arbitrarily as 80% accurate. I then posit that org theory adds another 10% predictive capability, and the political model another 5% (Remember these are my arbitrary assigned values - may be more but probably are less.) That leaves 5% of the cases unexplained or worse, wrongly predicted. Compound that with Sam's introduction of "groupthink" and your challenge of mirror imaging and you increase several times the nimber of cases mis-predicted/explained.

    That said, what is the alternative to using the rational actor model? To go back to AP's questions and dilemma, he's stuck with it. So, he needs to use it as rigorously as he can and supplement it with things like Allison's Models II and III, testing it for evidence of Janis' groupthink. Sorry AP, you don't have to do all that; it's not a doctoral dissertation - just be aware of the possibilities and pitfalls.

    Cheers

    JohnT

    PS I did like the A - F, 1 - 6 scale. Used well it was a good shorthand but it never was scientific and F 6 was most often misinterpreted as meaning bad info instead of unknown quality of both source and info.
    Last edited by John T. Fishel; 03-29-2008 at 05:31 PM.

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Dr. Fishel,

    I think the assumptions of realism will be sufficient for the scope of the paper and the class. The paper is in essence a research paper to explain, by theory, the causes of war. But I wanted to take it a step further and focus on a particular component of decision making within the framework of the theoretical model. The problems of realism are clearly visible, but I think if I shift the emphasis away from the pace of the decision-making process toward the consequences of its design (in relation to strategic intelligence) for states, I will be better off. In this way, I can skirt the issue of technology, addressing only how it relates to intelligence capabilities, and focus on how states use strategic intelligence.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Me, too. Not least because at the end of the day

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    ...
    PS I did like the A - F, 1 - 6 scale. Used well it was a good shorthand but it never was scientific and F 6 was most often misinterpreted as meaning bad info instead of unknown quality of both source and info.
    you could see how many F6s were laying about in comparison to all others that came in -- kept one sorta honest...

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    John,

    Thanks again for your comments.

    I do believe the rational actor model does have utility but it's always important to recognize it limitations, and, in fact, the limitations of attempting to apply any model to particular circumstances. That said, I think much depends on the character of the nation and it's particular decision-making process. Ideally one would want models tailored to the peculiarities of each nation, but that brings up another set of problems.

    Americanpride,

    A potential problem you may run into is that decision-making processes vary widely. For simplicity's sake, you might want to consider reducing your scope further to look at a particular category or archetype of national decision-making process.

  9. #49
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    John,
    Americanpride,

    A potential problem you may run into is that decision-making processes vary widely. For simplicity's sake, you might want to consider reducing your scope further to look at a particular category or archetype of national decision-making process.
    Well, I'm aiming to illustrate in my conclusion that states that can collect, analyze, and apply strategic intelligence, however they manage it, more rapidly will be more successful. I'm going to tailor my thesis somewhat to reflect the slight change in emphasis.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  10. #50
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Rapidly? Or accurately?

    Which is most important...

  11. #51
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Which is most important...
    I think that's certainly a problem that countries have to face. The multi-polarity of the international system, in addition to the proliferation of non-state actors, introduces a flood of variable interests and intentions. In addition, technology proliferation can make the capabilities and effects of these actors unpredictable. I think states will have to fall back on the "good plan now rather than perfect plan tomorrow" maxim as far as strategic intelligence is concerned.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  12. #52
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default May be true but it could be a political minefield and

    if you address it, be sure you give adequate emphasis to domestic political considerations which are always a driver at the national level.

    I have no problem with a 75% solution -- a lot of the Political masters do not, in my observation, subscribe to that. We have, in the west, become far more risk averse as societies today in comparison to say, 1940 and that can have an impact on your thesis.

    Good luck with the paper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride
    Well, I'm aiming to illustrate in my conclusion that states that can collect, analyze, and apply strategic intelligence, however they manage it, more rapidly will be more successful. I'm going to tailor my thesis somewhat to reflect the slight change in emphasis.
    Again, I refer you to Knowing One's Enemies, the book I recommended in my first post in this thread.

    The studies clearly demonstrate that the personalities and individual biases of the national level leaders - the consumers of strategic intelligence - often have a greater influence upon strategic decision making than does the quality of intelligence or the rapidity of its acquisition.

    In theory, I agree with your premise - that rapid acquisition, analysis and dissemination of accurate intelligence to national decision makers increases the likelihood of success. However, I have to state that the historical record puts the emphasis on the word "likelihood". Throughout history, national leaders have often dismissed, cherry-picked or simply refused to consider solid intelligence in favor of other information that played to their personal biases, or simply contrary recommendations from close confidantes whom they trusted more than their intelligence apparatus.

    ......Another one that previously slipped my mind is For the President's Eyes Only, which is focused on the President as a consumer of intelligence, and looks at the office in that perspective from George Washington to Bush I. However, the first book is really the one that speaks directly to your topic.

  14. #54
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    Again, I refer you to Knowing One's Enemies, the book I recommended in my first post in this thread.

    The studies clearly demonstrate that the personalities and individual biases of the national level leaders - the consumers of strategic intelligence - often have a greater influence upon strategic decision making than does the quality of intelligence or the rapidity of its acquisition.

    In theory, I agree with your premise - that rapid acquisition, analysis and dissemination of accurate intelligence to national decision makers increases the likelihood of success. However, I have to state that the historical record puts the emphasis on the word "likelihood". Throughout history, national leaders have often dismissed, cherry-picked or simply refused to consider solid intelligence in favor of other information that played to their personal biases, or simply contrary recommendations from close confidantes whom they trusted more than their intelligence apparatus.

    ......Another one that previously slipped my mind is For the President's Eyes Only, which is focused on the President as a consumer of intelligence, and looks at the office in that perspective from George Washington to Bush I. However, the first book is really the one that speaks directly to your topic.
    The problem is that I'm using realism has a theoretical framework for my thesis, and that model does not allow for analysis of the internal workings of the state, much less the personalities of particular leaders. I think that in order to keep my thesis tight and controlled, I'll have to stick with the state-level analysis and forgo opening up that can of worms. As far as I can see, I'll have to assume that leader personalities are embedded in the broad concept of the state. How do you think I should approach that dilemma?
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Default Essentially a non-problem

    AP--

    As you know, Realism assumes that the state can/must be treated as if it were a single, individual actor who is rationally pursuing his interests. Granted, there are many flaws in that assumption as Entropy and Selil have pointed out, but it works well most of the time. (I use 80% as my ballpark estimate.) So, as long as you demonstrate that you are aware of the possible pitfalls with an explantory note or in the text itself, you should be fine. As a professor of political science at U of MD told my wife when she was a PhD candidate, "Done is better than perfect."

    Drive on!

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question At first thought

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    The problem is that I'm using realism has a theoretical framework for my thesis, and that model does not allow for analysis of the internal workings of the state, much less the personalities of particular leaders. I think that in order to keep my thesis tight and controlled, I'll have to stick with the state-level analysis and forgo opening up that can of worms. As far as I can see, I'll have to assume that leader personalities are embedded in the broad concept of the state. How do you think I should approach that dilemma?
    You may have to look towards developing a certain set of parameters within which you assign default values and determine the likely results of any cost/benefit analysis in the decision making process that the players you do decide to include would use. It wouldn't be perfect but with the background from the books they have pointed out and comparing to some decisions you can find which have been made it may give you at least a close approximation from which to work..

    GL
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  17. #57
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    I completed the draft of my paper. I tailored the thesis somewhat to focus more on the theoretical aspects rather than the intricate details of practical application. I'd like to ask if anyone is available to review it (it's a little more than 15 pages), but I understand if schedules do not permit that.

    Thank you all for your help.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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