Reducing Uncertainty: Intelligence Analysis and National Security

By Thomas Fingar | Go to book overview

4
USING INTELLIGENCE TO ANTICIPATE
OPPORTUNITIES AND SHAPE THE FUTURE

REDUCING UNCERTAINTY is usually interpreted to mean ferreting out secrets that adversaries wish to keep hidden and providing warning that will enable policy makers, military commanders, or law enforcement personnel to prevent or prepare for developments that threaten our country, our citizens, or our interests. This interpretation is not wrong, but it is too narrow. Properly conceived and applied, intelligence collection and analysis also identify opportunities for decision makers to shape the future by reinforcing positive trends and redirecting those headed in a problematic or negative direction. In theory, providing warning and anticipating opportunities are two sides of the same coin because both require deep understanding and close monitoring of developments in groups, countries, or issue areas. In theory, if one understands the situation, where events are headed, and what is driving them, it should be just as easy to identify opportunities to nudge things in a positive direction as it is to spot signs of trouble. The theory is sound, but priorities, practical considerations, and concerns about “politicization” cause the Intelligence Community to focus more attention on discovering and analyzing problems than on finding possible solutions.1

Attaching greater importance to detecting threats than to discovering opportunities is understandable, given the origins and, for many, the raison d’être of the Intelligence Community.2 It may also be inevitable because of the linkage between “threats” to our nation and budget allocations for national security. A substantial portion of what we spend to reduce uncertainty— more than $50 billion a year—goes to the Intelligence Community. The need for

-50-

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Reducing Uncertainty: Intelligence Analysis and National Security
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Reducing Uncertainty 1
  • 2 - Myths, Fears, and Expectations 19
  • 3 - Spies Collect Data, Analysts Provide Insight 33
  • 4 - Using Intelligence to Anticipate Opportunities and Shape the Future 50
  • 5 - Estimative Analysis What It Is, What It Isn’T, and How to Read It 67
  • 6 - A Tale of Two Estimates 89
  • 7 - Epilogue- Lessons and Challenges 126
  • Reference Matter 139
  • Notes 141
  • Index 171
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