Part of the problem, I will hazard is a guess, is legacy security and pesonnel policies. “Deep understanding” of cultural-political variables of foreign societies requires a mix of academic historical, linguistic and social science expertise coupled with extensive “in-country” experience. Ideally, in the same analyst but failing that at least within the same analytical team. Aside from the collector-analyst division which could stand some erasure, many of the most useful sort of moldable, raw, talent – children of native speakers and Americans with extensive experience living overseas – have a difficult time getting through the clearance process.
Then, once these folks are in, cultivation of a strategic perspective – which includes synthesis, intuition and imagination and a long time horizon alongside analysis – have to become a priority over narrow analytical-reductionism and a “presentist” mindset. We have guys who do the latter already, they’re called journalists and the best of them do it very well. The IC should be playing at another level.