Thursday, January 04, 2007

Strange Career Move

John Negroponte is leaving his job as Director of National Intelligence to become Deputy Secretary of State. [BBC News, 4th January 2007]

This move is causing some speculation in the blogosphere. Why did Negroponte switch jobs? asks Susan UnPC on NoQuarter. Is this a demotion or an intelligent move? asks Peter Howard on the Duck of Minerva blog, while Dan Drezner puts it down to Condoleezza Rice's powers of persuasion.

It is interesting to see how different analysts frame the question in terms of different effects ...

... on Negroponte's personal status in Washington
... on Negroponte's personal accountability for future disaster
... on the Intelligence community and leadership
... on the diplomacy skills and experience within Rice's team
... on Iraq

... and speculate about the meaning of the move. Is this a signal that Negroponte is in or out of favour? Is this a signal that Rice is strong or weak? Is this a signal that the intelligence community is in trouble? Who is actually pulling the strings?

Note the indeterminacy of POSIWID here. Once you have chosen which effects you want to analyse, then the analysis may seem to lead to certain interpretations and conclusions. But POSIWID doesn't tell you where to look first - which effects of which system.

Update: In a later post (The Other Shoes Drop), Peter Howard points out that Negroponte's move is part of a much larger reshuffling of Bush's Iraq team. This again highlights the problem of knowing which system to look at first. Our perceptions may be influenced by the (accidental? fortuitous?) sequence with which the moves are announced or leaked.

(Peter suggests we need a program to keep up with who is going where. I assume he means software program - in UK English we have the advantage of a different spelling. I don't know what the software would do, but a graphic diagram would be nice.)

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