Recently, commenter L.C. Rees brought to our attention Psychology of Intelligence Analysisby Richards J. Heuer, one of the rare sort of CIA officers who spent decades in both the Directorate of Operations and the Directorate of Intelligence. I have been thumbing through Heuer’s work and if you have an interest in metacognition, analytical clarity, and cognitive biases, this book is for you.
….Restraint in foreign engagements, particularly military, is certainly to be prized unless clear US national interests, mechanisms, and follow-through plans are pretty clearly present, and articulated by our national political leaders so necessary to domestic support. However, instead, what we’ve increasingly seen is muddling and disparagement of the very concept of US national interests, substituting outright negativity, conceptual distractions, and refusal to actively engage unless elusive or impossible international consensus is reached, to include Russia and China who aren’t shy about exerting themselves actively in opposition to US or Western interests. In effect, as well, the US and Western Europe have too often abandoned its moral core, as well, to the favor of those who don’t share it or deride or hate it.
….But I digress, the point is that it cuts both ways: You can’t educate good strategists without acculturating them to certain military realities, which I think at present we really aren’t doing very well. How can we trust people to make good strategic evaluations if we don’t equip them with some technical familiarity with the instruments of military power and bolster their sense of judgment with extra lashings of military history? A strategist who doesn’t grasp details, let alone one who is contemptuous of them, is going to be a bad strategist.
….Yet the decision to step down from a position of power—to value family over professional advancement, even for a time—is directly at odds with the prevailing social pressures on career professionals in the United States. One phrase says it all about current attitudes toward work and family, particularly among elites. In Washington, “leaving to spend time with your family” is a euphemism for being fired.
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.