Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books on International Relations: Military, Scientific, and Technological: Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform/Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence/Germ Gambits: The Bioweapons Dilemma, Iraq and Beyond

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books on International Relations: Military, Scientific, and Technological: Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform/Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence/Germ Gambits: The Bioweapons Dilemma, Iraq and Beyond

Article excerpt

Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform. by paul r. pillar. Columbia University Press, 2011, 432 pp. $29.50.

Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence. by joshua rovner. Cornell University Press, 2011, 280 pp. $35.00.

Germ Gambits: The Bioweapons Dilemma, Iraq and Beyond. by amy e. smithson. Stanford University Press, 2011, 384 pp. $95.00 (paper, $29.95).

What intelligence analysts loathe more than anything is when policymakers misrepresent intelligence reports or put analysts under pressure to change inconvenient assessments. The most egregious contemporary examples of both phenomena took place during the Bush administration's push for an invasion of Iraq in 2002 and 2003. As a member of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, Pillar was responsible for some of the estimates the administration used to justify the war. He provides a vigorous and hard-hitting insider's account, drawing particular attention to prescient prewar assessments of what postconflict Iraq would look like and the likely regional consequences of war. As information is always incomplete and has to be supplemented by broader judgments, Pillar is wary of the concept of intelligence "failures" and offers some trenchant observations on inquiries into them, such as the 9/11 Commission, which he suggests lead to misguided reforms that do little to prevent the politicization of intelligence.

This issue is addressed in a neat and systematic manner by Rovner, who considers, in addition to the Iraq case, other notorious examples of politicization: the assessments based on body counts that supported spurious claims of progress during the Vietnam War, the dubious assertions regarding Soviet missile developments that the Nixon administration used to justify its antiballistic missile program, and the Team B exercise of 1976, in which the Ford administration asked a group of Cold War hawks to develop an alternative analysis of the Soviet threat. …

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