The Cold War simplified intelligence analysis, by narrowing what was examined and assessed. Subject matter not related to that conflict became uninteresting to intelligence users and policy makers, because there was no dispute about the Soviet Union, its allies, clients, and surrogates representing formidable potential adversaries. During the Cold War, the nuclear standoff and the acute warning problems associated with it were the focus of national attention, and our relations with other states were important largely to the extent that they affected that nuclear confrontation. In such zero-sum competition, communist gains in the international arena were assumed to be losses for us. This strategic framework narrowed the focus of the intelligence community's attention to factors related to this contest, largely to the exclusion of other considerations. Unfortunately, the simpler techniques of military analysis that appeared adequate for the Cold War still are being employed to define and measure threats in today's multi-polar post-Cold War world. They just don't work very well any more.
We Need to Understand
By Thomas Hirschfeld and W. Seth Carus