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Conference Paper on Computational Simulation and Producer/Consumer Relations Added

I've added a DRAFT paper that was prepared for the ISA ISSS-ISAC conference in Washington, DC in early October. I was unable to circulate the paper at the conference itself. It still needs work with respect to the design of a true research and development program in order to bring the ideas put forward to life, but there seems to be a strong desire on the part of many I've spoken with to explore the relationship between analytic tradecraft, technology, and the interface between intelligence producers and consumers. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with Carmen Medina

On June 5 and July 3 2012 I had the opportunity to talk with Carmen Medina (CM) in person and then follow-up with her over email correspondence. What follows is my summary of our extended discussion. As was the case with Leon Fuerth, CM did not have an opportunity to review my summary and correct any points that I may have misunderstood. Please keep that in mind when reading my characterization of her views in the event that I have misrepresented her ideas or experiences. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with Leon Fuerth

This post continues the series of interviews I performed during my dissertation research on Agent-Based Modeling, intelligence analysis and policy-making. My interview with Leon Fuerth was the first in the series, and provided me several insights that shaped my research and subsequent interviews (most of which have since been posted already). Importantly, this is one of three final interviews where the subject was not able to review the transcript and provide any clarifying remarks. While I do believe that my write up accurately captured his comments, it is possible that interpretive errors do exist that have not been corrected. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with Barry Leven

This interview was one of the longest of the several that I performed during my dissertation research. My conversation with Barry largely encapsulated a much longer and ongoing dialog that has been ongoing since he originally hired me at Booz Allen Hamilton when I graduated from college. While he retired from industry shortly after I started my career, we remain in contact and speak regularly. Thus, many of the questions and comments in the interview below hint at a larger exchange that started almost sixteen years ago and remain in development. Read the rest of this entry »

Some Thoughts About Handling Empirical Data in the Social Sciences

I was recently asked to review some grant applications for several social science research projects of relevance to national security. The applications are interesting and I've enjoyed seeing the proposal process from a new perspective. However, I've noted a common theme regarding the handling of data that I think is intuitively problematic with respect to theory building given my own interest in epistemology and the robustness of any claims that can be made from our research. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with James Bruce, Senior Political Scientist, RAND

This post provides another summary from an interview I conducted as part of my dissertation research and is included in the Appendix of the final,now completed version. I have known Dr. Bruce since 1998 when I was a student of his at Georgetown. Read the rest of this entry »

For the Romney Campaign, was Election Night an Intelligence Failure?

I usually limit my writing to international relations rather than discuss domestic politics. However, I found the election results quite interesting when viewed through the lens of intelligence studies and the international system. The fact that the Romney campaign appeared to be legitimately surprised by the outcome reveals important patterns about the use and non-use of intelligence for those seeking to understand international relations and policy more generally. In what follows, I operate under the assumption that the Romney Campaign was indeed confident they would the election, and through a combination of psychological and organizational mechanisms left themselves vulnerable to surprise on election night. It is entirely possible that in time, new materials will come out that show the campaign to have been more reserved and cautious internally than currently believed. Read the rest of this entry »

Kenneth Waltz, Iran and Nuclear Weapons

As I’ve been in the final months of completing my dissertation, I’ve had far less time to devote to the blog and topics that I’d like to spend more time thinking and writing about. While it is now beyond the news cycle, Kenneth Waltz’s recent essay in Foreign Affairs was quite interesting, but also misleading. At first glance, the policy prescriptive nature of the article was eye catching and challenging, and essentially continued his long-running debate with Scott Sagan and the rest of the international security studies community over the spread of nuclear weapons. The problem with Waltz’s argument, however, is less about his particular conclusions, than the broader problems of academic theory, models in general (both formal and informal), and their relevance to policy in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with Paul Pillar from Georgetown University

I met with Professor Paul Pillar (PP) of Georgetown University on February 1, 2012 to discuss intelligence analysis, analytic methodology, and producer/consumer relations as part of my ongoing dissertation research. The conversation was illuminating in several ways, particularly with respect to relations between analysts and policymakers. PP joined Georgetown University after a 28-year career in the US intelligence community, and also maintains an excellent blog on current foreign policy and national security issues. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning

Thomas Davenport and Jeanne Harris’s Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2007) (hereafter COA) was a surprising read. I found the foreword by Gary Loveman, the CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., to be very engaging and insightful, and lifted my expectations for the chapters that followed. Indeed, the conclusion of his introduction was exceptionally relevant to the problems that policymakers, and the analysts that support them, face in the international system: The challenge for those of who attempt to employ analytic capabilities is to ensure that they are oriented forward, where the problems are least well defined and the data is scarce, rather than backward, where the work is easy and the risk is low. Read ahead. There is much to learn. (p. xi) Read the rest of this entry »
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