Saturday, October 25, 2003

Forget James Bond

This article by John Keegan is outstanding

Forget about James Bond – intelligence never wins wars

intelligence never wins wars. As the American David Kahn, the supreme intelligence historian, puts it: "There is an elemental point about intelligence - it is a secondary factor in war."
Cipher intelligence was crucial in winning the Battle of the Atlantic and many of the Pacific battles. It palliated, though it did not avert, the flying bomb and rocket menace. It contributed to success in the desert and Normandy, but it did not win the war.
Hans Blix, the UN inspector, may be seen as a legalised intelligence agent. He had the authority to go where he chose, seek what he would and speak to whomsoever he wanted. Even so, he declared himself baffled and demanded more time.
In reality, intelligence is muddled, partial, contradictory, often proving not very secret at all and always confusing.

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