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Informing Statecraft, by Angelo Codevilla

- Abstract

Production of grand world views and new foreign-policy schemes has become something of a cottage industry among scholars and policy analysts since the end of the cold war—although, despite the outpouring of new visions, we are still a long way either from setting basic strategy or from shaping the institutions necessary to achieve our aims. Angelo Code-villa’s Informing Statecraft is a useful contribution to this growing body of literature, an ambitious effort to digest the lessons of the past and point the way to the future in the vital area of national intelligence.

Obviously the post-cold-war world includes elements of both the old and the new. Codevilla is strongest on the former. With impressive erudition—drawing on a range of examples from Thucydides, the Bible, and modern experience—he attempts to codify the timeless essentials of intelligence practice. These, in a conscious imitation of Aristotelian taxonomy, he divides into four branches: collection, counterintelligence, covert action, and analysis. To each area he rigorously applies Aristotle’s question, “What is the purpose of this activity?” Again and again he demonstrates convincingly that failure often comes from the simple inability of intelligence officers and bureaucracies to keep larger strategic objectives explicit and in view.

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