This book explores the question of how policy makers gauge their adversaries’ intentions and the implications of such intentions assessment for international relations and world affairs. It advances a framework called the selective attention thesis and compares it to three well-known explanations of perceived intentions: the capabilities thesis, strategic military doctrine thesis, and behavior thesis. All four theses are tested using three cases: British assessments of Nazi Germany’s intentions in the period leading to World War II; U.S. assessments of Soviet intentions under the administration of Jimmy Carter; and U.S. assessments of Soviet intentions in the years leading to the end of the Cold War during the second administration of Ronald Reagan. Drawing on these historical episodes, the book considers which indicators are used or ignored by decision makers and intelligence organizations when making intentions assessments.
Keywords: adversaries, perceived intentions, intentions assessment, international relations, selective attention, capabilities, strategic military doctrine, behavior, decision makers, intelligence organizations
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