Briefing the Swedish policy maker: the analyst-policy maker relationship in a small country

Policy makers tend to pick and choose among conclusions presented to them. This can result in politicization, which ultimately might result in intelligence being blamed for policy failures. This has a negative impact on intelligence analysis, transforming it in an ever more cautious direction which negates its utility in the policy process. Swedish intelligence learnt that for truly important intelligence reporting, in particular that which signified paradigm shifts, the conclusions had to be presented in a manner that had an impact, in an oral briefing. Moreover, the briefer must be prepared to defend the service’s conclusions. Hence, a keyword in the analyst-policy maker relationship was trust. The relationship had to develop into a partnership, in which the policy maker had the final word but the intelligence analyst did not shrink from presenting the service’s argument. This lesson from the Cold War appears to be just as valid in the present.

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