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National Security

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 Joseph Eash III

As my dissertation is reaching it's conclusion, I am working towards making more of its research accessible via the web. This post continues the series of interviews that I performed as part of that research on Agent-Based Modeling and intelligence analysis. In the interests of full-disclosure, Joe was my boss for more than three years (2001-2004) when I worked for him as a research associate in the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at National Defense University. Under's Joe's and Desmond Saunders-Newton's mentoring, I was introduced to Agent-Based Modeling and complexity theory. I owe Joe a special debt professionally and intellectually and am proud to have benefited from his mentoring. This interview was conducted on September 6, 2012. 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 »

Interview with John Hanley, Director of Strategy for the ODNI (retired)

Discussion with John Hanley (JH), Director of Strategy for Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Prior to joining ODNI, JH served as an officer in the US Navy and held senior positions in the DOD. I asked John broad questions that primarily focused on three topical areas – the difference between analysis and analytic communities within the DOD and Intelligence Community (IC) based on his experiences, his perspectives on the current state of the IC given his role and position within the ODNI, and general comparisons between intelligence analysis and academic scholarship. Note: since the time of this interview on February 9, 2012, Dr. Hanley has retired from the ODNI. Read the rest of this entry »

COMMENTS ON RICHARD DANZIG’S DRIVING IN THE DARK Part 2

A while ago I made some comments on Richard Danzig’s CNAS piece, Driving in the Dark. It had been my intention to follow-up that post quickly, but as often happens, other demands rose to the top of the stack. For the sake of completeness, I wanted to follow up with some additional thoughts on the second part of his paper. Read the rest of this entry »

Observations on Quantitative Modeling in Defense and Intelligence Analysis

Over the last couple of weeks I had the opportunity to participate in a two conferences that focused on the role of formal modeling in intelligence and defense analysis. The preparation for these events kept me away from the blog, and I’m hoping to have a chance to write more as the majority of my time and attention return to my dissertation for the next several months. Read the rest of this entry »

Commemorating Desmond Saunders-Newton

Today, November 24th, marks the one year anniversary of the passing of Desmond Saunders-Newton, a dear friend and mentor who left this world far too soon. Dez, as he was known, possessed a unique combination of vision and ability to think big, and yet connect with people on the most human and personal of terms. He first introduced me to complexity theory, Agent-Based Modeling (ABM), and computation in general, creating the lens through which I see the international system through. I don’t fully know how to characterize my years of working with Dez, or the depth of the pain felt by his absence, but wanted to acknowledge his role in my life in some way on this Thanksgiving holiday. Read the rest of this entry »

Computational Social Science Seminar Posted

Last Friday I gave a presentation on the challenges of strategic intelligence, and how Agent-Based Modeling fits within and can improve current analytic tradecraft. The slides have now been added to the website, and can be found on the Papers and Presentations page. The slides are somewhat sparse and are mostly talking points. There is a layer in the file that contains speakers notes that contain more information and bibliographic credit where graphics, quotes, and images were taken from other sources. Likewise, the abstract for the presentation can be seen on the Department of Computational Social Science website here. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments on Richard Danzig’s Driving in the Dark

Last month the Center for New American Security (CNAS) published an excellent report by Richard Danzig called Driving in the Dark: Ten Propositions About Prediction and National Security. While much of what has been said in this report has been discussed elsewhere, I believe that this report provides one of the most coherent, complete, and compact discussions regarding how to cope with inevitable failures of prediction in national security policy. This posting discusses three interesting points that Danzig makes in the first half of his report. A follow-up posting will continue by examining the second half of the report. Read the rest of this entry »
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