NEWPORT, R.I. – U.S. Naval War College (NWC) professor Joshua Rovner recently published a new book titled, “Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence.” The book explores many questions regarding recent national security controversies, including the September 11 attacks and the war in Iraq.
Rovner discusses the relationship and complex interaction between intelligence and policy while highlighting the problem of politicization. Manipulation of intelligence estimates have been closely tied to major episodes in the history of American foreign policy.
“The major national security controversies of the last decade have all revolved around the use or misuse of intelligence. All of these cases led to heated debates about the proper role of intelligence in strategy and policy,” said Rovner. “I thought that exploring the use of intelligence would be a good way to gain a better understanding of our own recent past.”
When beginning his research, Rover found that there was little beneficial political science on the issue. As a result, he wanted to develop a useful theory of intelligence-policy relations.
“Fixing the Facts” includes chapters on the Vietnam War and the Soviet Union, as well as a comparison of U.S. and British intelligence on Iraq before the war in 2003.
Rovner stated that he would like to “show how the study of intelligence can contribute to international relations theory. We’ve benefited from decades of scholarship on civil-military relations, but there is nothing similar for intelligence-policy relations.”
“Understanding how [intelligence agencies] operate and how they interact with strategists and policymakers is critical for understanding how states perceive threats and opportunities,” Rovner said.
If intelligence-policy relations are broken, Rovner believes even the best intelligence will be rendered useless. “Simply fixing intelligence agencies is not enough.”
Dr. Rovner is Assistant Professor of Strategy and Policy at NWC. He is the author of articles on intelligence reform, politics and strategy, nuclear proliferation, and deterrence. His current research explores the intersection between international relations theory and intelligence studies; deterrence theory and emerging nuclear powers; and contemporary grand strategy. Prior to joining NWC, he taught at Williams College, Clark University, and Holy Cross. Dr. Rovner holds a Ph.D. in political science from MIT.
Written and posted by Brie Lyons, Naval War College Public Affairs
NOTE: The views expressed in this publication are the authors’ own, and do not speak for the U.S. Naval War College. Additionally, their views do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Naval War College, the Department of the Navy or Department of Defense or any other organization of the U.S. government.