By Neveen S. Abdalla, Philip H.J. Davies

« There is a popular aphorism in the intelligence world that ‘there are only intelligence failures and policy successes’ (Jervis, 2010, p. 157). It is an observation with telling resonances on many different levels. It captures the sense among intelligence practitioners that in the best of all possible worlds, the ultimate goal of intelligence is to enable the formation of sound and successful policy. The self-interest of the intelligence profession is necessarily subordinate to that of the policy to which it serves as proverbial handmaiden (Pillar, 2011, p. 136). In the worst of all possible worlds, it portrays decision makers – whether politicians or operational commanders in the military – as venal glory-hounds quick to grasp credit from, or shift blame to, the intelligence community. Examples of both can readily be identified within living memory. But what it does most fundamentally is identify and draw a sharp, binary distinction between policy professionals and the intelligence community as two different in-groups within government reflecting two equally sharply divided functions. In fact, this dichotomy is, if not illusory, then substantially exaggerated, and the fuzzy boundaries between the two are inadequately examined and understood. This not primarily because individual career paths may weave across both, like a Robert Gates serving at various points within the Central Intelligence Agency and then in the policy realm of the National Security Council before becoming Director of Central Intelligence. Far more important are moments where the two worlds must work in a collective effort for certain crucial aspects of the intelligence process to operate as intended. The most significant such point is the putative starting point of the so-called ‘intelligence cycle’ direction. »

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