Why Won’t They Listen? Understanding Policy Maker Receptivity toward Intelligence (DRAFT)
Dahl, Erik J.
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After surprise attacks and other intelligence failures, the complaint is often heard that if only decision makers had listened more closely to the warnings they had received -- if only they had treated intelligence more objectively, rather than letting their own beliefs and wishes interfereâ€”disaster might have been avoided. But even though it is generally agreed that intelligence is of little use unless it is received and understood by policy makers, we actually know little about why some leaders are receptive toward intelligence, while others are not. This paper argues that the willingness of decision makers to listen to intelligence depends primarily on two factors: their belief in the seriousness of the issue or threat involved, and their trust in the utility of intelligence. It examines contrasting cases of policy maker receptivity toward intelligence in the cases of Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway, and suggests that current models of intelligence-policy relations need to be revised.
DRAFTPrepared for presentation at the International Studies Association annual conference Montreal, March 2011
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