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Special Feature

Factors that Influence War

Why do countries go to war? Why do nations that were once allies become bitter enemies? Why do people allow disagreement to degenerate into conflicts? Why do people of the same nation fight, and continue to fight even if their fights lead to loss of precious lives, and destructions of properties? Why were there civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia? Why Sierra Leoneans did chop the hands of their fellow citizens, including little kids?  Why Liberians did butcher one another?

At the onset of the Liberian civil war, we were told that the war was a “revolution” and for a ‘‘cause,” a cause that is yet to be identified and defined.  Or did we fight for the usual “human rights, prosperity and freedom” that we hear most wars are being fought?  Did we go to war to improve our own wealth and power, or at the very least to improve the wealth and power of others? Now that the guns are silent in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the wounds created by the war are still somehow fresh, and the scars are revealing.  Did the wars benefit citizenry of Liberia and Sierra Leone?  Were the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone supported in any way? If so, why and for what reasons?  Was there a vested interest in our wars? Were those benefits in any way based on interest, revenge, or fear, or all of the above?

There are several conflicts on the African continent. If we take a keen look at the conflicts in Sudan, Congo, Somalia, and the wars in the Middle East, we notice that most of the crises have characteristics that run through all of them:  the fight for the usual human rights, prosperity and freedom. But how successful have we been in achieving these goals and objectives? But then again, we know that history has shown that wars and conflicts are fought and instigated for a number of reasons, including interest, revenge and or fear.

In order to take a look at some of the factors that influence wars, whether in Africa, the Middle East, the Gulf, and other parts of the war, this article takes a look at one of the most recent crisis that grasp the attention of both local and international media. The great United States played a pivotal role in the Iraq war, and continues to engage Iraq and its neighbors to promote democracy. This discussion looks at the processes used by the U.S. intelligence in its collection and analysis about Iraq’s capabilities to develop and use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – the key factor that presumably led to the war. This article also look at and discuss the four political models- the Bureaucratic Politics, Organizational model, Rationale Action, and Psychological model to analyze the perspective(s) that best explains the failure of the U.S. Intelligence Community to provide accurate information on Iraqi’s capabilities to develop and use weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The Psychological Model

The U.S. Intelligence Community assessment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear programs was a substantial intelligence failure that can be largely attributed to the psychological perspective. Key actors of the U.S. Intelligence Community focused on assumptions, perceptions, and past historical behaviors of Iraq to make assessment and analysis. The major actors within the U.S. Intelligence Community included the CIA, NGIC, DIA, DOE, NIR, Air Force Intelligence, NGA, NSA, and FBI, worked within the confines of a preconceived notion that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program and would again deceive the international community by concealing the program. When intelligence reporting indicated that Iraq was seeking tubes made of 7075 T6 aluminum alloy, that report served as an additional information used by actors within the Intelligence Community to counter their information as a way of retaining their view points and beliefs –that Iraq was reconstituting its weapons program. The CIA and NGIC insisted from the onset that aluminum tubes could be used for centrifuge rotors, as opposed to the DOE and IAE, who stated that the tubes were better, suited for use in Iraq’s missile launcher program. Additionally, the claim that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium yellow cake from Niger and the case for the UAV further illustrates how biases, rigid perceptions and fixed beliefs by the U.S. Intelligence lead to faulty intelligence analysis. Despite the scanty evidence available, the CIA failed to confirm the foreign report on the uranium yellowcake but concluded that the information was cogent.

The various agencies responsible for data collection began with the idea that the Iraqi regime was procuring illegal arsenals to reconstitute its nuclear program. The psychological perception that when someone acts like they have something to hide, usually they are hiding something, further rationalized the underlying assumptions of key U.S intelligence actors than by available scientific evidence (pg 69).

Iraq’s historical activities and the logic it seemed to imply made it counter-intuitive to U.S. Intelligence that Saddam was building and hiding Weapons of Mass Destruction. With this notion, it was likely that a contrary point of view would have been out rightly dismissed. Another psychological setback was the failure to independently reassess evidences and reconsider particularly foreign sources and their information. The data provided by Curveball and other sources were not evaluated. These factors among other assumptions led to unmotivated bias wherein intelligence organizations failed to analyze the data and verify the authenticity of the claims. This bias intensified the motivated biases wherein assumptions became stronger that “contradictory data was often discounted as likely false’ (pg 169). It is obvious that a chain of psychological factors created a just right situation for intelligence failure.

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Organizational Model

The organizational processes of the U.S. community was a second major contributing failure of the intelligence gathering and analysis concerning the reconstitution of Iraqi’s Weapons program -the Weapons of Mass Destruction, (WMD). The overall collection of information for WMD in Iraq has many organizational flaws. The intelligence community’s primary failure resulted from their routines and mission of collecting reliable and useful information. In this case, the intelligence community relied on very few sources –human intelligence without much effort to verifying the sources’ background and information provided.

Routines procedure and short-cuts were also part of the organizational problems that led to the U.S. Intelligence Community’s erroneous conclusion that Iraq was trying to procure uranium from Niger. Document concerning an Iraq- Niger oil contract were initially forwarded to the DOS but not to the CIA. The documents were later found to be forgeries, but failure to initially send the documents to the CIA caused a delay in officially discrediting he documents.

The lack of coordination and procedural problem among different agencies made information sharing difficult. The absence of coordination to address the different assessment from different agencies also contributed to the U.S Intelligence community faulty WMD report on Iraq. In order for an organization to be effective, it needs to have a defined structure, access to information and coherence. The U.S. Intelligence community lacked coherence between and among the various organizations – CIA, NSA, FBI’s intelligence division, Naval Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, Army Intelligence, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s intelligence division et others. Given the extensive organizational divisions of the intelligence community, there were undoubtedly overlap and duplications of duties by organizations that already had different standard operation procedures, missions and ideology. Another faulty organizational process was the issue of information and intelligence sharing, and the fact that there were several small intelligence agencies beholden to their government departments that may have had useful information but had little concept of the bigger issue at stake.

Divisions within organizations need to be made clear and there should also be minimum overlaps and duplication as much as possible in order for an organization to be efficient and achieve its goals. When there is an overlap and duplications of functions, or lack of coherence within an organization, there is a tendency for muddle up in the operations, ideology or lost sight of what they are seeking. The U.S Intelligence community comprised over a dozen organizations. The size of the individual organizations varied, having a single person at the top of the pyramid still doesn’t eliminate problems of duplication. As information moves up any organization it is filtered by actors at various levels who make judgments as to what is important, sometimes using their expertise and/or judgment – to address particular issues without the knowledge of higher ups.

Another setback within the Intelligence community was organizational culture. When organizations merged, whether formally or informally, there is the possibility for an influence in the culture of one or all of the organizations. This cultural influence can have an effect on the ideology of the actors within the organization and their objectives which might be different from the mission and goals of the organization. As a result of the overlapping of functions, the Intelligence collection, analysis and reporting was not separated from that of the military operations. This was a major setback; military analysis and ideology are usually clearly interpreted differently from that of intelligence and, whenever possible intelligence analysis and reporting needs to be separated from military.

This was evident during the U.S Intelligence community collection and analysis of Iraq when the CIA began operating closely with Defense. It is possible that by working closely with Defense, the CIA, or both of the organizations borrowed an aspect of the other’s approach and attitude in assessing and or interpretation of data on Iraq

Another organizational problem was the intelligence community tendency to do away with uncertainty and to seek conformity. Such practices resulted in the lack of knowledge or awareness of the availability of information inconsistent with data they had secured regarding the Iraqi situation. In general, the intelligence community’s failure resulted from organizational processes attributed to the intelligence community tendency to place emphasis on dubious evidence because it fit presumptions, and they ignored contradictory evidence, which may have resulted in alternative hypothesis. This disregard for independent evidence or information that was inconsistent with data they had accrued impeded any possibility of truth on the Iraqi situation.

Organizational processes also determined the perspective of different organizations within the intelligence community. The CIA focused its mission in interpreting the deception of others; the CIA exposed itself to thinking that any absence of evidence or information was an indication of Iraqi’s successful deception of the Intelligence community. The flaws and setbacks in the organizational processes of the U.S. Intelligence community explain the failure in its collection and analysis which resulted in a false impression of certainty for analysts’ judgment.

Bureaucratic Politics Model

Although Bureaucratic politics behavior within the failed decision making regarding U.S intelligence community cannot be seen as significantly important as was the Psychological and Organizational models, the primary objective of bureaucratic politics was to protect the interest of the organization.

In most instances, the CIA and other bureaus utilized intelligence that was of poor quality. A bureaucratic problem was the unwillingness of the Intelligence Community and the CIA in particular to admit error and also discouraged the pursuit of information that would have revealed error. This reluctance was probably seen as a way of protecting and maintaining the credibility of the bureaus and organizations.

Other fundamental dynamics to explore that might shed light on the role bureaucratic politics played in the U.S Intelligence assessment of Iraq is whether the excessive layers of bureaucracy within the Intelligence community and the behavior of the major actors from individual organizations were consistent with the overall goal of the Intelligence Community. This leads to the issue of appointments and basis for which the appointments or reorganization made. A characteristic to also consider is the consistency of a position to a particular bureau and whether the position was consistent with the interest of the organization or geared towards accomplishing a specific goal or interest.

Rationale Action Model

The U.S intelligence community in assessing Iraq’s WMD focused largely on Saddam’s behavior in the past and determined that though his actions were seemingly irrational, from that determination constructed a pattern of behavior which they rationally considered the irrational behavior of Saddam. As a result of the presumptions drawn from Saddam’s previous behavior, the Intelligence community used scanty data to support their hypothesis that Iraq did indeed have and was reconstituting its Weapons of Mass Destruction. Instead of testing the hypothesis, they treated the hypothesis as facts, ignoring all alternatives which resulted in failures in their analysis of Iraq’s WMD.

The Intelligence community appeared to have been over-whelmed by the presumptions, and hypothesis with little considerations for measuring ranges between available alternatives and goals. It was based on the flawed theory that the Intelligence Community cashed in on a short-term consequences –a report claiming that Iraq had and was reconstituting its weapon of Mass Destruction.

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