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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 »

Report on Systemic Risk Conference now Available

This is a very brief update. A while back I posted about attending an international conference on systemic risks in the intentional system at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. An Interim Report from the conference is now available on the IIASA website for anyone who is interested. The report can be found here. 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 »

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 »
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