Contrarian Analysis as a Means of Avoiding Intelligence Failure

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 16 Oct 2023

Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Vulnerability of Mainstream Narrative from Suppression of Alternative Perspectives

Introduction

25 Sep 2023 – Much is currently made of the purported intelligence failure on the part of Israel and its intelligence allies, most notably the USA — in the inability to anticipate the attack by Hamas  on behalf of Palestine in October 2023. In the case of Israel, comparisons are made with the intelligence failure associated with the 1973 Yom Kippur war. In the case of the USA, they are made with respect to 9/11, as specifically noted in the subsequent US Senate inquiry (cf Kjetil Anders Hatlebrekke and M. L. R. Smith, Towards a New Theory of Intelligence Failure? The Impact of Cognitive Closure and Discourse Failure, Intelligence and National Security, 2010; Richard S. Tracey, Trapped by a Mindset: the Iraq WMD Intelligence Failure, Maxwell Air University, 2006; Learning from the 9/11 response: groupthink and failure of imagination, 2005).

Predictably such events evoke questionable commentary on the possibility that they were false flag operations — orchestrated by Israel and the US respectively, possibly by “rogue elements” (Peter Koenig, The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Netanyahu’s “false flag”, connecting the dots – and more, Global Research, 11 October 2023). Rather than an “intelligence failure”, it is argued that the horrific disasters then enabled other radical agendas to be advanced where previously this would have been impossible. The failures would then merit recognition as a higher order of strategic intelligence — however perverse.

It has even been argued by Michel Chossudovsky that Netanyahu’s “False Flag” is a “Copy and Paste”: the Pentagon’s secret “Operation Northwoods” (1962) directed against Cuba (Global Research, 11 October 2023). As the proposal for a false flag operation, Operation Northwoods had included the indication that “casualty lists would cause a helpful wave of indignation” (U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba (TS), U.S. Department of Defense, 13 March 1962).

Rejection of such a perverse possibility assumes that national strategic thinking respects norms and would see it as totally abhorrent and therefore unimaginable. This assumption is specifically called into question by the influential early study on the strategic validity of the “unthinkable” (Herman Kahn, Thinking about the Unthinkable, 1962; Thinking about the Unthinkable in the 1980s, 1984). The controversial strategic justification for Nagasaki, in addition to Hiroshima, has been cited as one tragic example (Antony Beevor, Was the US justified in dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War? HistoryExtra, 6 April 2022; The Bombing Of Hiroshima And Nagasaki: Justified Or Not? 7 September 2022).

The justification is otherwise evident in the well-documented complicity of such as Henry Kissinger in alleged war crimes involving thousands of fatalities, as most recently presented by Greg Grandin (Henry Kissinger, War Criminal — Still at Large at 100, History News Network, 15 May 2023). A pattern is evident in the widely cited response of Madeleine Albright — as US Ambassador to the UN — to a query regarding the enabling of the deaths of 500,00 children in Iraq as a consequence of sanctions: We think the price is worth it (Lesley Stahl, CBS News. 1998).

As enabled and reinforced by mainstream discourse however, the main question explored here is whether global strategy at this time is itself dangerously vulnerable to what may in future be perceived as intelligence failure. Is an unforeseeable “Hamas-event” to be anticipated in other contexts? It is however far less relevant whether the failure is deliberately orchestrated — potentially on the part of “rogue elements” — or a consequence of a lack of vigilance and due diligence (Neglected signals of systemic negligence, 2015; Strategic engagement: higher orders of vigilance? 2010).

In what follows the specific concern is: are valuable strategic insights lost as a consequence of ensuring a dangerous form of consensus through the repression of alternative perspectives and discrediting or eliminating their advocates (Over 1,700 environment activists killed in decade, BBC, 29 September 2022). Cultural biases have notably been variously recognized (Brian J. Phillips, et al, Where is Conflict Research? Western bias in the literature on armed violence, International Studies Review, 24, 2022, 3; Janne Mende, et al, Transcending a Western Bias: Towards a decolonised entangled perspective in norms research, European Review of International Studies, 9, 2022, 3).

In the current context it has become unclear how many insightful strategic perspectives are considered a threat to the point of being appropriately deprecated and suppressed — potentially reframed in the guise of disinformation and “conspiracy theories”. In the light of the latest instance of apparent “intelligence failure”, what other strategic assumptions have become unquestionable through cultivation of a form of groupthink by mainstream discourse?

Irrespective of their potential credibility, where are alternative perspectives appropriately held and explored — despite the particular focus of their advocates, however exaggerated? Whilst many continue to be articulated controversially through social media, or through initiatives such as BRICS, is it the case that the most radical are only documented appropriately in secret by intelligence agencies — with mandates to ensure that they are not taken into serious consideration?

Historically the pattern may have been set by the Catholic Church through its regulatory imprimatur. Deemed pseudoscience, the pattern has been evident in the highly restricted access allowed by the Royal Society to some studies of Isaac Newton (of which he was president) — only now published through the Newton Project.

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