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11 February 2006

Historical Analogy in Analysis

The esteemed historian Victor Davis Hanson offers yet again an instructive lesson in perspectives on historical analogy which is of value for intelligence analysis. Some commentators have dismissed him as merely an administration apologist, but this is a grave disservice both to the man and to his work.

While many have warned against the perils of the technique of historical analogy, such as Jeffrey Record’s paper from the Air War College, few have so demonstrated its strengths when properly applied. Some theoretical basis is supplied in the classic 1959 Studies in Intelligence article by Cyrus Peake, “History's Role in Intelligence Estimating", now declassified and available online here.