Roger Hilsman

Essay
Sep/Oct
1995
Roger Hilsman

The history of intelligence since World War I shows no dividends resembling the miracles of spy-thriller fiction. The benefits gained by fielding a worldwide team of secret agents are not worth the exorbitant cost. Spies sometimes provide useful information on weapons development and other long-term threats; usually their information is outdated or irrelevant. The CIA should stick to its strengths: analysis for policymakers and high-tech surveillance. Cloak-and-dagger foreign policy tempts presidents into shirking the hard work of diplomacy and politics. The practice has blackened America's reputation and subverted its democracy.

Capsule Review
Fall
1990
Gaddis Smith
Essay
Apr
1968
Roger Hilsman

It seems more and more likely that the logic of the situation in Viet Nam will, within the next several months, push the United States into an invasion of North Viet Nam. The vast increase in both American manpower and firepower since 1965 has resulted in heavy casualties for the communist side, but neither the Viet Cong nor the North Vietnamese are about to collapse. On the contrary, as their recent offensive against the cities so dramatically demonstrated, they have the capacity to strike back almost anywhere, provided they have time for the necessary preparations. There is no convincing evidence that the recent offensive was a "desperate last gasp" or that the Viet Cong and North Viet Nam could not continue to take the present rate of casualties for years.