Knowledge as Power

Bruce Berkowitz reviews John Keegan’s latest book, “Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to al-Qaeda.”

Berkowitz’s conclusion:

Keegan can draw upon a lifetime of studying armed conflict, and the facts of battles from ancient times to recent times fall readily to his mind. Alas, Keegan’s strength is also his curse. His approach — deconstructing a big event into many small events — inevitably leads to a conclusion that is almost a tautology.

Because intelligence was always just one of many factors, it is hard ever to make a case that it was the most important one. No serious military analyst believes that for want of a nail a kingdom was lost, and using this method, no one is going to believe that for want of intelligence, a battle was lost (or won).