Policy Lessons from Iraq on Managing Uncertainty in Intelligence Assessment: Why the Strategic/Tactical Distinction Matters

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Heazle, M
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2010
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This paper focuses on how pre-existing policy priorities and goals among policy elites in the US, UK, and Australia encouraged the blurring of strategic and tactical intelligence assessment as a mechanism for legitimising the Iraq invasion. Through the selective use and interpretation of sometimes vague or unsubstantiated tactical and technical intelligence and the many uncertainties it contained, proponents of the war were able to undermine existing strategic assessments on Iraq by introducing a range of possible, but largely unsubstantiated, threat scenarios as justification for military action. The paper argues that in so far as intelligence reforms are needed, they should be focused primarily on the interface between analysis and policy making, and the issue of how policy makers interpret and understand the uncertainties that intelligence assessments necessarily contain.

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Intelligence and National Security
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Political science
Political theory and political philosophy
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