Problems in the Intelligence-Policy Nexus: rethinking Korea, Tet, and Afghanistan
Borer, Douglas A.
Burkett, Randy P.
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Accusations of failure by elements of the US intelligence community (IC) have followed in the wake of nearly every war and terrorist bombing since Japan’s successful strike on Pearl Harbor in 1941. This article will illustrate how some problems that exist inside the “intelligence-policy nexus” are beyond the control of the IC. By investigating the dynamics and tensions that exist between producers of intelligence (the IC) and the consumers of those products (policy makers), we review three different types of alleged failure. First, by revisiting the Chinese intervention in Korea, we show that a rarely listed case in the literature is in fact a classic example of producer-based failure generated from within the IC. However, in our study of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War (1968), we show that the alleged intelligence failure by producers should be more accurately described as a “failure of intelligence” by consumers. Third, by revisiting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979), we conclude that there existed neither a producer nor a consumer failure. The Carter Administration made a conscious policy choice to act surprised (when it was not).
The article of record as published may be located at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02684527.2013.851875
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