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Knowing One's Enemies

Knowing One's Enemies

Edited by Ernest R. May
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 576
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztt90
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  • Book Info
    Knowing One's Enemies
    Book Description:

    In essays that illuminate not only the recent past but shortcomings in today's intelligence assessments, sixteen experts show how prospective antagonists appraised each other prior to the World Wars. This cautionary tale, warns that intelligence agencies can do certain things very well--but other things poorly, if at all.

    Originally published in 1986.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5606-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF MAPS AND CHART
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS USED IN FOOTNOTES
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-8)

    The United States and its allies employ thousands of people and spend untold billions gathering and analyzing intelligence about potential enemies. The Soviet Union and its allies do likewise.

    Describing how governments gauged one another before the two world wars, this book concerns an era of several great powers, none yet “super,” with nuclear fission only a theoretical possibility and artificial satellites and high-speed computers scarcely dreamed of.Yet it may supply some basis for judging whether conditions today are better or worse than in the past, or the same.

    General Maurice-Henri Gauché, long chief of the French Deuxième Bureau, argues...

  7. PART ONE: THE FIRST WORLD WAR

    • CHAPTER 1 CABINET, TSAR, KAISER: THREE APPROACHES TO ASSESSMENT
      (pp. 11-36)
      Ernest R. May

      The following pages describe three governments at moments when they were casting up the potential balance of forces—Britain in mid-1911 and tsarist Russia and imperial Germany in late 1912. Experts already know the stories. They are retold here partly to illustrate what is meant by “assessment,” partly to compare three different types of organization, and partly to orient nonexperts to a distant but terrifyingly instructive period.

      In each episode, the persons engaged are heads of government, ministers, chiefs of staff—actors, not analysts. Intelligence officers scarcely appear at all. Intelligence estimates do. But the instances illustrate the point that...

    • CHAPTER 2 AUSTRIA-HUNGARY
      (pp. 37-61)
      Norman Stone

      In the days of Napoleon, there was a saying about the Austrian Empire that it was always “en retard d’une armée, d’une année et d’une ideé.” It was a phrase that came back to melancholy life in the first weeks of the First World War. When Austria-Hungary fought, she was defeated in the early battles by both her Russian and her Serbian enemies; she lost three-quarters of a million men. Her humiliation at the hands of Serbia was particularly crushing, because the professional armies of one of the grandest, most historic European powers were defeated by the people of a...

    • CHAPTER 3 IMPERIAL GERMANY
      (pp. 62-97)
      Holger H. Herwig

      In the late afternoon of May 12, 1914, at the Bohemian resort of Karlsbad, the Chief of the German General Staff, Helmuth von Moltke, was visited by General Franz, Baron Conrad von Hötzendorf, his counterpart from Austria-Hungary. Since taking over from General Alfred, Count von Schlieffen, in 1908, Moltke had exchanged some letters with Conrad. Though with something less than forceful clarity, he had let the Austrian know the basic German war plan originally devised by Schlieffen. In a general European war, German armies would strike in the west, seeking to defeat France before France’s ally, Russia, could mount a...

    • CHAPTER 4 THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE
      (pp. 98-126)
      William C. Fuller Jr.

      Several scholars have noted the power of interest-group politics within the imperial Russian government.² Each ministry of state arrogantly pursued its own institutional goals while zealously guarding its secrets from competitors. Policies often ran at cross-purposes. In the period before the 1905 revolution, for example, the Ministry of the Interior promoted “police unionism” as an antidote to industrial unrest. With the plan of weaning industrial workers from socialism and radicalism, policemen or their hirelings organized unions and sometimes even instigated strikes.³ yet such a program naturally with the Ministry of Finance, a ministry deeply committed to the development of Russia’s...

    • CHAPTER 5 FRANCE AND THE GERMAN MENACE
      (pp. 127-149)
      Christopher M. Andrew

      At the beginning of the twentieth century, with the humiliation of Fashoda still fresh in French minds, England seemed as likely an enemy as Germany. Early in the Boer War both the General Staff and the Foreign Ministry considered contingency plans for an invasion of England, an expedition to Egypt, and an attack on Burma to coincide with a Russian march on India. In order to make a Russian attack on India a practical possibility, France both pressed for and helped to finance the Orenburg-Tashkent Railway, completed in 1904. That railway, feared the India Office, would “add immensely to the...

    • CHAPTER 6 FRENCH ESTIMATES OF GERMANY’S OPERATIONAL WAR PLANS
      (pp. 150-171)
      Jan Karl Tanenbaum

      The outbreak of the war in August 1914 demonstrated quickly that the French high command had badly miscalculated Germany’s strategic intentions. As the French army faced east and northeast in anticipation that the main German attack would spring from Lorraine and Alsace, Germany poured 700,000 active and reserve troops into neutral Belgium. These German troops moved west of the Meuse and Sambre rivers and then plunged south into France, outflanking a stunned French army. This wide envelopment maneuver through Belgium, while the rest of the German forces remained on the defensive in Alsace and Lorraine, was in accordance with the...

    • CHAPTER 7 GREAT BRITAIN BEFORE 1914
      (pp. 172-204)
      Paul M. Kennedy

      During the decade or so before 1914, a growing number of Britons inside and outside the government came to regard imperial Germany as their country’s most likely foe. Germany therefore became increasingly central in British intelligence analysis, strategic planning, and diplomacy.

      Throughout the nineteenth century Germany had been regarded more as a potential ally than as a potential enemy.¹ The change in British attitudes from around 1900 onward—what political scientists might term the growing “perception” of the German “threat”—was, therefore, remarkably swift. In part it derived from an increased awareness of the widespread Anglophobia within Germany, and in...

    • CHAPTER 8 ITALY BEFORE 1915: THE QUANDARY OF THE VULNERABLE
      (pp. 205-234)
      John Gooch

      In the years before the First World War, Italy, like each of the other great powers, could make use of two basic indicators in order to assess potential enemies. One was capability: the military capacity of neighboring states to do her damage. The second was intent: the signals afforded by the policies of other powers—usually, but not always, their foreign policies—which might indicate a forthcoming contest of arms. Her assessments were also markedly affected by an acute consciousness that the balance of military capabilities was never in her favor.¹ For a variety of reasons, Italian leaders were predisposed...

  8. PART TWO: THE SECOND WORLD WAR, WESTERN EUROPE

    • CHAPTER 9 BRITISH INTELLIGENCE AND THE COMING OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN EUROPE
      (pp. 237-270)
      Donald Cameron Watt

      This essay sets out the processes by which intelligence was fed into the decision-making machinery in Britain, asking how and by whom it was appraised, how accurate a picture of enemy intentions was achieved, and what factors and inhibitions operated to make the picture what it was. Distinguishing among the various types which have broadly been lumped together as “strategic intelligence” by political scientists, it looks at each category of intelligence in as much detail as time, space, and the availability of evidence allow. Finally, it indicates what general lessons can be learned from the evidence examined.¹

      Before doing this,...

    • CHAPTER 10 FRENCH MILITARY INTELLIGENCE AND NAZI GERMANY, 1938-1939
      (pp. 271-309)
      Robert J. Young

      Within days of the German takeover of Austria, on March 12, 1938, French intelligence headquarters in Paris were in receipt of a chilling if hardly surprising forecast of Hitler’s next objective. The Anschluss had rendered Czechoslovakia vulnerable to German penetration from the south. The military attache in Berlin, for one, was quick to herald this new crisis. Four days after the Anschluss, General Georges Renondeau was speaking of some forthcoming operation “against Czechoslovakia.”¹ From the beginning, therefore, the attaché was involved in monitoring the anticipated Czech crisis. His reports to the War Ministry, and his counsels to the ambassador, would...

    • CHAPTER 11 NATIONAL SOCIALIST GERMANY: THE POLITICS OF INFORMATION
      (pp. 310-346)
      Michael Geyer

      The Third Reich gave great emphasis to acquiring intelligence about potential enemies. Organizations collected it incessantly. They hoarded it and peddled it. They built huge bureaucracies in order to expand their capacities for gathering and assessing intelligence. In the Third Reich, however, intelligence had a larger meaning than in most other states, and it served wider purposes. It did not have to do only or even chiefly with foreign nations, for dangers to the survival of the National Socialist state were perceived everywhere—at home as well as abroad and in private as well as public life. Potential enemies were...

    • CHAPTER 12 FASCIST ITALY ASSESSES ITS ENEMIES, 1935-1940
      (pp. 347-372)
      MacGregor Knox

      Instinct, not meticulously calibrated bureaucratic practice, presided over Fascist Italy’s assessment of its enemies. “These are the tired progeny of a long series of affluent generations,” Mussolini contemptuously remarked after Chamberlain and Halifax made their abject pilgrimage to Rome in January 1939. “They will lose their Empire.”¹ In the long run the prediction was accurate, but the Duce’s assumption that they would lose it to him proved disastrously wrong.Within two years it was Britain that, as Churchill put it in his December 1940 broadcast to the Italian people, was to tear Italy’s African empire “to shreds and tatters.”² The breakdown...

  9. PART THREE: THE SECOND WORLD WAR,: EASTERN EUROPE AND BEYOND

    • CHAPTER 13 THREAT IDENTIFICATION AND STRATEGIC APPRAISAL BY THE SOVIET UNION, 1930-1941
      (pp. 375-423)
      John Erickson

      The Soviet Union occupies a singular, not to say unique, position in recounting its engagement in the Second World War. For all other belligerents, the subject has by now become a matter of historical record and historical investigation in the strict and technical sense of those terms. In marked and durable contrast, the violent Soviet lurch into war and the initial calamities induced by the German“surprise attack” on June 22, 1941—the scale and impact of which has been compared without undue fancifulness to a medium-size nuclear assault—are not only a matter of retrospective examination but have also become...

    • CHAPTER 14 JAPANESE INTELLIGENCE BEFORE THE SECOND WORLD WAR: “BEST CASE” ANALYSIS
      (pp. 424-455)
      Michael A. Barnhart

      Most people, if asked about Japan’s intelligence operations before the outbreak of the Pacific war, would think immediately of Tokyo’s stunning successes at Pearl Harbor and, perhaps, Singapore. In both cases, operational planners in the Imperial Navy and Army had excellent reports concerning the disposition of their enemies’ forces and, as a consequence, achieved spectacular results.

      It would be wrong, however, to infer from these two examples that Japanese intelligence estimates were consistently accurate. In fact, they were probably not as good as those of most other powers. While Japan’s information collection efforts may sometimes have been of high quality,...

    • CHAPTER 15 GREAT BRITAIN’S ASSESSMENT OF JAPAN BEFORE THE OUTBREAK OF THE PACIFIC WAR
      (pp. 456-475)
      Peter Lowe

      In the years preceding the outbreak of the Pacific war in December 1941, Britain faced only one probable antagonist in the Far East and western Pacific—Japan.¹ Once Hitler was in power, however, Japan never ranked higher than second among British defense concerns. For the most part, people collecting and analyzing information about Japanese capabilities or intentions occupied inferior or subordinate posts in organizations preoccupied with European or North Atlantic affairs. The Far Eastern Department of the Foreign Office collected political intelligence from British diplomatic missions in Tokyo and elsewhere. Other data may have come to the Foreign Office through...

    • CHAPTER 16 THE UNITED STATES VIEWS GERMANY AND JAPAN IN 1941
      (pp. 476-502)
      David Kahn

      Intelligence had little to do with American assessments of Germany and Japan before December 1941. The actions of the Nazi government convinced Americans, high and low, that the United States might someday be the target, if not the victim, of its aggression. On the other hand, American racism and rationalism kept the United States from thinking that Japan would attack it.

      Geography made danger from Germany appear imminent. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt explained in a fireside chat early in 1941, German occupation of the Azores or Cape Verdes would put hostile bombers in range of South America and thereby...

  10. CONCLUSIONS: CAPABILITIES AND PROCLIVITIES
    (pp. 503-542)
    Ernest R. May

    Before both World Wars, great powers scrutinized one another. Formally or otherwise, each made net assessments, comparing capabilities and taking account of proclivities. (“Proclivities” because the professionals’ “intentions” suggests a single brain: does “the United States” ever really haveintentions?The economists’ “propensities” smacks too much of herd behavior. Over “predilections,” “proclivities” has the double advantage of better suiting bureaucracies and being exemplified in theOxfordEnglish Dictionary by Hobbes’s line, “the natural proclivity of men, to hurt each other.” It allows for both “Imperial Germany seeks her place in the sun” and the aside “—also, she drinks a...

  11. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 543-546)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 547-561)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 562-562)