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Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform Hardcover – September 6, 2011
"The Best 'Worst President'" by Mark Hannah and Bob Staake
A noted political commentator and renowned New Yorker illustrator team up to give Barack Obama the victory lap he deserves. Learn more
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[A] rich, useful, and important book.(Thomas Powers New York Times Book Review)
A thoroughly documented, cogently argued work by an author with vast personal experience of his topic.(Kirkus Reviews)
A vigorous and hard-hitting insider's account,(Lawrence D. Freedman Foreign Affairs)
Pillar provides a telling and comprehensive new perspective from the inside.(Steve Coll New York Review of Books)
This is a well-written effort by a former intelligence offer and academician. Hopefully, members of the national security community and their staffs will read and benefit from it.(Choice)
Pillar's book is extremely detailed and informative, providing a better understanding of just how hard it is to be an intelligence professional in a world where all that matters is being wrong... once.(James M. Burcalow Military Review)
Important and highly readable.... This is a book that should be widely read by both the public and policymakers.(Richard Harris The Manhattan Mercury)
Pillar's combination of qualifications as a high-level practitioner and careful scholar is unmatched. He weaves together general analysis of the role of intelligence with insights from his own involvement in the most important foreign policy issues over many years.(Richard K. Betts, Columbia University)
The 9/11 attacks and the Iraq WMD estimate are both encumbered by erroneous legends. Paul R. Pillar, a senior intelligence analyst deeply involved in both issues, offers crucial correctives, also applicable to the overly-esteemed 9/11 Commission Report. These alone make this an important book. Pillar goes further, offering a unique history of U.S. intelligence and the issue of 'intelligence reform.' Not all will agree with his observations, but they come from substantial experience and deep thought and need to be seriously considered.(Mark M. Lowenthal, president, The Intelligence and Security Academy, and former Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production)
Paul R. Pillar brings to his study of intelligence and foreign policy the skills of an accomplished scholar and a wealth of experience as an intelligence officer. A brief endorsement cannot do justice to the richness and power of his arguments, which are essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what intelligence can and cannot do; why the appeal of reforms is often greater than their value; and how we can avoid repeating our past mistakes.(Robert Jervis, author of Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Fall of the Shah and the Iraq War)
Writing with the authority of a distinguished practitioner and scholar, Paul R. Pillar presents a blunt and candid assessment of the profound disconnect between intelligence and American national security policy. His pointed reflections expose the reality of the politicization and misuse of intelligence as well as the importance of the images of the world that policy makers bring to the table. His book is an invaluable corrective to the assumption that policy blunders and the inability to predict can be blamed simply on 'intelligence failure.'(Martha Crenshaw, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University)
Paul R. Pillar has written a brilliant, lucid analysis of the evolution of U.S. national security intelligence in the decade since the 9/11 attacks. He shows how the intelligence agencies have been made scapegoats for the failures of our political leaders, how intelligence reform has become confused with bureaucratic reorganization, and how our foreign policy is driven by a psychological as well as political incapacity to accept the limitations of our knowledge about the plans and motivations of actual and potential adversaries. Pillar's book is erudite, thorough, and authoritative, yet accessible to anyone concerned with the gravest issues of national and global security.(Richard A. Posner, author of Countering Terrorism: Blurred Focus, Halting Steps)
Top Customer Reviews
The killer quote that makes the book for me is from Richard Immerman, and appears on page 318:
"regardless of any benefit from reform of the intelligence community, 'the effect on policy is likely to be slight so long as the makers of that policy remain cognitively impaired and politically possessed.'"
Wow. I've never heard politicians called stupid and corrupt in such elegant terms. It works for me. Pillar makes a stab at addressing the importance of openness, but this book completely avoids the trenchant details that are better found in Hamilton Bean's ...Read more ›
Pillar appears to have done a good deal of thinking about the complicated issue of how intelligence relates to policy and how domestic political considerations can influence both. Although his uses the 9/11 Commission report as the center piece of his thinking, he discusses other examples of what is sometimes called `politicalization' of intelligence as well. He makes the important point that intelligence often is used to sell policy rather than inform it. He notes that in the run up to operation Iraqi Freedom, the administration of President George W Bush appears to have decided upon a military invasion of Iraq with no discernable evidence of a formal decision making process. Once the decision was made, intelligence reporting was considered principally as a means of selling the decision to the American public and Congress. The events of 9/11 were sized upon as a catalyst to build public support for the invasion of Iraq.
This is an important book that makes a major contribution to the understanding of how the U.S.Read more ›
Question: Did the Bush Administration go to war in Iraq through a deliberative process that identified reasons pro and con? Pillar states there was "the absence of any apparent procedure for the determination of whether the war was a good idea..." thus agreeing with other insiders, such as former Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill and Deputy Sec. of State Richard Armitage. But the administration needed a reason to "sell" the idea of war to the American public. In August 2002, it was decided that the threat posed by Iraq's potential for using so-called weapons of mass destruction--chemical, biological, and nuclear, the latter the only truly "mass destruction" weapon--would be used justification. The CIA was asked to produce a hurried National Intelligence Estimate on this topic. Pillar agrees that the NIE was badly flawed, that the key judgments "leaned forward" in government parlance, agreeing that a threat was there. However, as Pillar notes, the body of the NIE spelled out in detail the flimsy nature of the evidence, the disagreements by the Department of Energy and State as to the key findings.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing book, eye opening and highly recommended even for people not interested in politics.Published 13 months ago by John
Way too redundant. Same things could have been said in no more than one-half the words. That said, the infomation was interesting and important.Published on November 13, 2013 by Bob
Well written. Keeps me up late reading. Probably only people who care about intelligence, foreign policy or contemporary history would agree. Wish everyone did.Published on August 13, 2013 by Barbara Turner
For anyone who reads either the report of the "National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States" (the 9/11 Commission report) or the report of "The Commission on the... Read morePublished on March 4, 2012 by Robert Clark
Exactly how and why the US invaded Iraq is the subject of Paul Pillar's new book, "Intelligence and US Foreign Policy". Read morePublished on February 4, 2012 by Keith A. Comess
Although Paul Pillar sets out to show where U.S. intelligence reform has gone wrong, he does not.
The author discusses his pride in having lead the team that negotiated... Read more
This author for whatever reason has an axe to grind, it was not just US intelligence making the case for war, but other countries as well were backing the US up. Read morePublished on October 5, 2011 by Amazon Customer