By Jr Robert L Pfaltzgraff, Uri Ra'anan, Warren Milberg

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An adversary only may have to help the victim along somewhat; the latter will tend to explain away what might otherwise look like a rather menacing move. Thus, the British, who had other priorities after the Second World War which entailed keeping down their defence budget, started to assume in 1919 that no major war was likely to occur in the following ten years and continued to base their planning on this increasingly less tenable assumption, well into the decade before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Moreover, the ratio of our predicted increases to the actual increases deteriorated at the rate of about 8 percentage points annually. For all our improved means of collecting information, compared to the primitive devices available to the British in the 1930s, we did even worse than they did in anticipating an adversary's military buildup. Like the British, our interpretation of the data was affected strongly by our strategic doctrines and political predispositions. Moreover, while qualitative forecasts are harder to confirm or refute, it would be quite wrong to suppose that our forecasts of Russian improvements in unit performance erred on the other side, or even produced much less underestimation than American predictions concerning numbers of vehicles in the Soviet strategic force.

However, in other respects, the intelligence tradition has much to learn from the tradition of science. Intelligence operations too often lack the detachment and willingness to engage in debates that have been built into science as ways of offsetting the inclination to hear what one wants to hear. Often it Approaches to Intelligence and Social Science 45 turns out that the discipline of a governmental intelligence organisation serves to aid those on the other side, whose job it is to disinform.

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