Robert Jervis


Jervis, Robert. "Intelligence and Foreign Policy." International Security 11, no. 3 (Winter 1986-1987): 141-161.


Jervis, Robert. "The Politics and Psychology of Intelligence and Intelligence Reform." Forum 4, no. 1 (2006): 1-9. []

Abstract: "Policy-makers always say they want the best intelligence, but in fact they do not because good intelligence often raises doubts and challenges policy. They also always claim to be working to improve intelligence, but in fact do not understand the problems, and many 'reforms,' such as the recent establishment of a Director of National Intelligence, are useless if not harmful."

Clark comment: This is an excellent article that makes its argument succinctly and pointedly. It deserves to be widely read and discussed.


Jervis, Robert. "Reports, Politics, and Intelligence Failures: The Case of Iraq." Journal of Strategic Studies 29, no. 1 (Feb. 2006): 3-52.

The author reviews the SSCI's Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq, 7 July 2004; the UK's Butler Report, 14 July 2004; and the Report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, 31 March 2005.... The investigations [were] marred by political bias and excessive hindsight. Neither the investigations nor contemporary intelligence on Iraqi WMD followed good social science practices. The comparative method was not utilized, confirmation bias was rampant, alternative hypotheses were not tested, and negative evidence was ignored."


Jervis, Robert. "The Torture Blame Game: The Botched Senate Report on the CIA's Misdeeds," Foreign Affairs 94, vol. 3 (May-Jun. 2015): 120-127.

Jervis notes that "the final report was essentially a product of the Democratic majority, which chose to absolve everyone but the CIA. The Republican rebuttal, in turn, amounted to a brief for the defense, based partly on the CIA's response to the majority's charges, with a heavy dose of snark thrown in.... [A] more collegial process would have served the country better, yielded a deeper understanding of what happened, and made clearer the legitimate disagreements that remain. Instead, the reports fail to present any evidence that could undermine their cases, express any uncertainty, or acknowledge any alternative interpretations of the facts they do include. And each sidesteps fundamental questions about the proper balance between values and security."


Jervis, Robert. "What's Wrong With the Intelligence Process?" International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 1, no. 1 (Spring 1986): 28-41.


Jervis, Robert. Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010.

For Hutchinson, IJI&C 23.4 (Winter 2010-2011), this is "one of the more profound, interesting, and insightful analyses of the intersection of policy and intelligence in several decades." The author "clearly does not believe that fixing the intelligence organization chart will solve the problems of the past or future."

Froscher, Studies 54.3 (Sep. 2010), comments that, while the author's study of the CIA's failure to anticipate the Shah's ouster was written in 1979, "its insights remain fresh and relevant." His study of Iraq "is less comprehensive..., but he finds the basic mechanisms of failure to be similar." This work "is essential reading that gets beyond the conventional wisdom about intelligence failure and provides nuanced insight into what Jervis describes as the 'insoluable dilemmas of intelligence and policymaking.'"


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