One can treat the terms “security studies” and “strategic studies” as synonymous and as pertaining to the study of the interaction of policy ends with military and other means under conditions of actual or potential conflict. This definition means that security/strategic studies can be a fairly broad field. Moreover, this broadness applies not only to the subject matter of the field, but to its time span as well. The study of strategy is arguably as old as war itself, and certainly far older than the formal establishment of strategic studies as an academic discipline in the aftermath of World War II. In this vein, one may well regard works like those of Thucydides and Clausewitz as belonging to the broad field of strategic/security studies.
Although the study of war and strategy would often go hand in hand with military history, from very early times there have appeared treatises on strategy (actually on “the art of war”) that are clearly distinguished from historical treatises and thus from the very beginning set strategic/security studies on a clearly distinct track. Be that as it may, the historical approach to strategic/security studies has always been and still remains a very powerful analytical tool—provided it is handled with the necessary care.
Beginning with Thucydides, and continuing with such luminaries as Vegetius, Clausewitz, Delbrück, and Corbett, the historical approach to strategic/security studies has provided the field with some of its most brilliant treatises. This venerable tradition continued after World War I and until well into the Cold War, including historically minded gems such as those by Fuller and Brodie. However, the advent of nuclear weapons and the consequent preoccupation of strategic/security studies with nuclear strategy led by and large to the loss of the field’s earlier historical bearings. Though never completely shelved, the historical approach was relatively subdued. It began to stage a comeback during the 1970s, aided by scholars like Howard, Luttwak, and Gray and further bolstered by the renewed interest in classical strategic theory. The end of the Cold War found the historical approach in terrific shape. Thus, not only does it once again tap the huge reservoir of ancient history, but it has also harnessed the newly available tools of quantitative research and the academic rigor of the social sciences. Since the end of the Cold War has definitely not brought about the end of history and the obsolescence of historical experience, it seems safe to conclude that the historical approach to strategic/security studies will fully retain its validity well into the 21st century.
Human security suggests that security policy and security analysis, if they are to be effective and legitimate, must focus on the individual as the referent and primary beneficiary. In broad terms, human security is “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear:” positive and negative rights as they relate to threats to core individual needs. Human security is normative; it argues that there is an ethical responsibility to (re)orient security around the individual in line with internationally recognized standards of human rights and governance. Much human security scholarship is therefore explicitly or implicitly underpinned by a solidarist commitment to moral obligation, and some are cosmopolitan in ethical orientation. However, there is no uncontested definition of, or approach to, human security, though theorists generally start with human security challenges to orthodox neorealist conceptions of international security. Nontraditional and critical security studies (which are distinct from human security scholarship) also challenges the neorealist orthodoxy as a starting point, although generally from a more sophisticated theoretical standpoint than found in the human security literature. Critical security studies can be conceived broadly to embrace a number of different nontraditional approaches which challenge conventional (military, state-centric) approaches to security studies and security policy. Human security has generally not been treated seriously within these academic security studies debates, and it has not contributed much either.
Charles A. Mangio and Bonnie J. Wilkinson
Intelligence analysis is defined as analysis carried out by intelligence organizations. The essence of intelligence analysis is determining the meaning of information to develop knowledge and understanding. The meaning derived from the analysis is used to address many different types of questions, which are categorized in variety of ways. A general classification of the questions, sometimes described as types of intelligence or analysis, includes strategic intelligence. The seminal publication for describing and explaining the processes and attributes of strategic intelligence is Sherman Kent’s 1949 book, Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy. The intelligence literature acknowledges that determining meaning is influenced by the analyst’s mindset, mental model, or frame of mind. A variety of factors influence mental models, including context and purpose, past experience, education, cultural values, role requirements, organizational norms and the specifics of the information received. A recurring theme in intelligence literature is the use of scientific methods in intelligence analysis and the discussion of the analytic process in terms of scientific methods. Key elements of the analysis processes include hypotheses, information research, and the marshaling of evidence, and how they affect the determination of meaning. Intelligence research also emphasizes the importance of rigor in analytic thinking. Despite the accumulation of a substantial amount of scholarly work on intelligence since the 1940s and 1950s, the literature has not advanced on the core aspect of determining meaning from information to address the full range of complexities in intelligence analysis.
Richard J. Aldrich
Intelligence can be considered a process, a product, and an institution. Institutions in particular point toward the idea of national security, since intelligence services are curiously bound up with both state sovereignty and the core executive. Preemption is perhaps the most important idea that has served to enhance the importance of intelligence. One of the most enduring definitions of intelligence is that it is a special form of information that allows policy makers, or operational commanders, to make more effective decisions. Quite often this intelligence is secret in nature, consisting of information that an opponent does not wish to surrender and actively seeks to hide. And although it is widely accepted that intelligence studies as a field is under-theorized, some areas have received more attention than others. Perhaps because policy makers have seen warning against surprise attack as one of the highest priority intelligence requirements, this area has been the most fully conceptualized. In addition, intelligence agencies themselves have frequently advanced the claim that their ability to lend a general transparency to the international system improves stability. Also, these agencies not only gather intelligence on world affairs but also seek to intervene covertly to change the course of events. Another controversial aspect of intelligence involves the cooperation between intelligence and security services.
Erik J. Dahl and David Viola
Intelligence scholars and practitioners have analyzed the challenges terrorism presents for intelligence organizations and have debated how intelligence analysts and agencies can best respond to the challenge. The literature on intelligence and terrorism changed following the 9/11 attacks; three schools of thought emerged. Although a large body of literature has developed in recent years, a number of important areas remain in which further research is needed.
Timothy W. Crawford
Intelligence cooperation (or liaison) refers to the sharing or exchange of politically useful secret information between states, which may also work together to produce or procure such information. There are many important connections between the key concerns of intelligence cooperation and the cooperation problems and solutions illuminated in mainstream traditions of international relations theory (realism, liberalism, and constructivism), and work on bureaucratic and organizational politics. These are captured in a descriptive typology that breaks down intelligence cooperation relationships into four classes, reflecting the number of states and quality of reciprocity involved. Those are transactional bilateral cooperation, relational bilateral cooperation, transactional multilateral cooperation, and relational multilateral cooperation. Across these categories, the most important concepts, conjectures, and conundrums of intelligence cooperation are found.
Thomas E. Copeland
Intelligence failures are commonly understood as the failures to anticipate important information and events, such as terrorist attacks. Explanations for intelligence failure generally include one or more of the following causal factors: organizational obstacles, psychological and analytical challenges, problems with warning information, and failures of political leadership. The earliest literature on intelligence failures is found in the 1960s, having developed in the context of the Cold War. At the time, the stable bipolar system was threatened by periodic surprises that promised to alter the balance of power. With tens of thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at each other, the United States and the Soviet Union spent a great deal of time and energy assessing each other’s intentions and capabilities and trying to avoid a catastrophic surprise. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, scholarship on intelligence failure decreased substantially. In the meantime, this scholarship diversified to include topics such as the environment, human rights, drug trafficking, and crime, among other things. Surprises in these areas were perhaps more frequent, but were less consequential. However, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003, interest in both scholarly and journalistic analyses of intelligence failures has once again increased.
A large literature has emerged on intelligence and war which integrates the topics and techniques of two disciplines: strategic studies and military history. The literature on intelligence and war is divided into theory and strategy; command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I); sources; military estimates in peace; deception; conventional operations; strike; and counter-insurgency and guerilla warfare. Sun Tzu treats intelligence as central to all forms of power politics, and even defines strategy and warfare as “the way of deception.” On the other hand, C3I combines signals and data processing technology, command as thought, process and action, the training of people, and individual and bureaucratic modes of learning. Since 1914, the power of secret sources has risen dramatically in peace and war, revolutionizing the value of intelligence for operations, especially at sea. The strongest area in this study is signals intelligence. Meanwhile, the relationship of intelligence with war, and with power politics, overlaps on the matter of military estimates during peacetime. The literature on operational intelligence is strongest on World War II. However, analysts have particularly failed to differentiate the effect of intelligence on operations, from that on a key element of military power since 1914: strike warfare. In counter-insurgency, many types and levels of war and intelligence overlap, which include guerillas, conventional and strike forces, and politics in villages and capitals.
Cynthia M. Nolan
Oversight of intelligence agencies maintains public control and knowledge of their activities through an assurance of accountability and responsible use of power. It reflects the essential part of democratic checks and balances as applied to intelligence and security services in government. The US intelligence community and its oversight offices are the most extensive, oldest, and most studied in the world. Here, oversight of intelligence had developed as a series of checks and balances against the often unchecked power that had revealed itself in a scandal of some sort. Meanwhile, early descriptions of the activities of the intelligence agencies have given way to more systematic examinations of the quality of intelligence. And as oversight has been formalized, so too have academic descriptions of that oversight, both to expose that oversight to scrutiny and to aim to improve it. It is the use and form of these advances in government and their relationships to the necessity of democratic control and accountability that present the most intriguing challenges to academic theories of government conduct. In a democracy, intelligence must deliver high-quality assessments, analysis, and warnings in the advancement of US interests while at the same time acting within the law and respecting the rights of US citizens. These two sides of the same coin give intelligence oversight multiple objectives and make the task of the overseer even more difficult.
Before 9/11, the literature on terrorism and international organizations (IOs) was largely event driven. That is to say, the modest nature of the debate reflected a modest empirical record of IO engagement in responding to terrorism. Moreover, this period saw a correlation between the way states acted against terrorism through IOs and the nature of subsequent debates. Famously, states were (and remain) unable to agree on a definition of “terrorism,” precluding broad-based action through IOs. The findings presented in this literature were furthermore often quite bleak. The immediate post-9/11 period, however, was much more optimistic. This period saw an unprecedented increase in action against terrorism in IOs, primarily through the Security Council resolution 1373. Resolution 1373 elaborates a broad—and mandatory—agenda for counterterrorism cooperation. This resolution has had significant and ongoing consequences for the ways IOs are utilized in the effort to suppress terrorism. Furthermore, this and other IO engagements with terrorism brought about an increase in scholarly interest in the area, even giving rise to a sense of optimism in the literature. Thus, from the pre- to the post-9/11 period, there are elements of both continuity and change in the way scholars have discussed terrorism in the context of IOs.
John M. Owen IV
Liberalism has always been concerned with security, albeit the security of the individual; institutions, including the state, are all established and sustained by individuals and instrumental to their desires. Indeed, liberalism cannot be understood apart from its normative commitment to individualism. The tradition insists that all persons deserve, and it evaluates institutions according to how far they help individuals achieve these goals. Nor is liberalism anti-statist. Liberal theory has paid particular attention to the state as the institution defined by its ability to make individuals secure and aid their commodious living. Although liberal security literature that only examines individual states’ foreign policies may be guilty of denouncing the role of international interaction, the general liberal claim argues that the international system, under broad conditions, permits states choices. As such, for liberalism, states can choose over time to create and sustain international conditions under which they will be more or less secure. Liberalism’s history can be traced from the proto-liberalism in the Reformation to the emergence of the social contract theory and neo-theories, as well as liberalism’s focus on increasing security. Meanwhile, current debates in liberalism include the democratic peace and its progeny, reformulations of liberal international relations (IR) theory, and meta-theory. Ultimately, liberalism’s most striking recent successes concern the democratic peace and related research on democratic advantages in international cooperation. Liberalism is a useful guide to international security insofar as individuals and the groups they organize affect or erode states.
The shift in America’s national security priorities has significantly changed the foreign intelligence needs of US policymakers in recent years. Due to the substantial rise of transnational threats, intelligence requirements have become increasingly numerous and varied, necessitating ever closer communication between consumers and producers to facilitate the production of relevant and timely intelligence. Producer-consumer relations is the glue which pulls together the intelligence cycle; for what happens at the interface of policy and intelligence ultimately determines the success or failure of the entire intelligence endeavor. Efforts to reform intelligence analysis have been motivated by the assumption that accurate analysis naturally leads to effective policy decisions. From this perspective, computational resources have primarily been devoted to the collection and assessment of empirical data in an effort to provide consumers with increasingly accurate predictions. The perennial issues facing the intelligence community can be roughly summarized as follows: the intelligence professional must guard against politicization and uphold his analytical integrity while at the same time maintaining close enough contact with policymakers to provide personalized and relevant intelligence support. Scholars argue that what the producer-consumer relationship needs is not radical change but some amelioration. The general reform objective should be to deepen the incorporation of intelligence throughout the policymaking process, to improve the two-way understanding of policy requirements, and to ensure that the intelligence community maximizes and maintains its unique expertise.
Paul F. Diehl
Peace is an elusive concept with many different meanings. Traditionally, it has been equated with the absence of war or violence, but such “negative peace” has limited value as it lumps wildly disparate situations together, such as rivalries (India–Pakistan) and close political relationships (e.g., European Union). Nevertheless, this conception remains the predominant approach in theory, research, teaching, and policy discourse. “Positive peace” definitions are much broader and encompass aspects that go beyond war and violence, but there is far less consensus on those elements. Conceptions include, among others, human rights, justice, judicial independence, and communication components. Best developed are notions of “quality peace,” which incorporate the absence of violence but also require things such as gender equality in order for societies to qualify as peaceful. Many of these, however, lack associated data and operational indicators. Research on positive peace is also comparatively underdeveloped. Peace can also be represented as binary (present or not) or as a continuum (the degree to which peace is present). Peace can be applied at different levels of analysis. At the system level, it refers to the aggregate or global conditions in the world at a given time. At the dyadic or k‑adic level, it refers to the state of peace in relationships between two or more states. Finally, internal peace deals with conditions inside individual states, and the relationships between governments, groups, and individuals. Aspects of peace vary according to the level of analysis, and peace at one level might not be mirrored at other levels.
Paul D. Williams
Peace operations involve the expeditionary use of uniformed personnel (police and/or military) whose mission is to help secure “international peace and security.” In many ways, peace operations are the most visible activity of the United Nations with a mandate to deter armed conflict through preventive deployment or help to kick-start a peace process through peacemaking initiatives, among other purposes. Peace operations can be grouped into several categories, including preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping, post-conflict peacebuilding, and peace enforcement. There are three clusters of approaches that have tried to think conceptually about the relationship between peace operations and broader processes of global politics: global culture, critical theory, and cosmopolitanism. Questions of success and failure in peace operations have been tackled in the literature, which includes the UN’s own reports as well as books and articles appearing within a range of academic disciplines. Scholars have also analyzed the many challenges facing peace operations ranging from civilian protection and gender issues to public security and policing, privatization, intelligence provision, and state-building. Overcoming these challenges will require, at a minimum, new ways of thinking about the problems concerned, new ways of organizing the relevant institutions, and getting the would-be state-builders to allocate substantial resources. There are also some important questions that deserve greater attention; for example, what types of non-UN peace operations are most effective, under what conditions, and how they compare with UN operations, or how a world order can be constructed in which the peacekeepers have put themselves out of business.
Scholarly attention on both Peace Studies (PS) and contemporary security issues, in particular “terrorism” and “counterterrorism,” is notable and has been growing in recent decades. Several academic institutions now offer undergraduate and postgraduate modules on “Terrorism Studies” (TS) and PS all over the world, and in recent years there has been growing interest in both areas. Still, the two fields have long remained stubbornly distant and only a few scholars have investigated the interaction between Peace and Terrorism Studies. This article, building on the openings produced by seminal contributions on the possible intersection between the two areas of research, seeks to review such contributions and point to some commonalities and issues affecting both fields to finally underline fruitful areas of cross-pollination. To achieve its aim, the article is structured in the following way: it begins with an investigation of characteristics common to both fields as well as common issues affecting them, then reports the results of a preliminary review of the most relevant contributions investigating the possibilities of crossroads between Terrorism Studies and Peace Studies. The contributions succinctly reviewed in this article are full of important considerations (theoretically and empirically informed) about the feasibility and desirability of intersections between TS and PS and are particularly welcomed for opening up new avenues for research. However, given the initial stage of this enterprise, they should be better regarded as excellent launch pads for stimulating further research and for encouraging more dialogue between disciplines.
The political economy of violent conflict is a body of literature that investigates how economic issues and interests shape the dynamics associated to violent conflict after the Cold War. The literature covers an area of research focusing on civil wars—the predominant type of conflict in the 1990s and early 2000s—and an area of research focusing on other types of violent conflict within states, such as permanent emergencies, criminal violence, and political violence associated to turbulent transitions. The first area involves four themes that have come to characterize discussions on the political economy of civil wars, including research on the role of greed and grievance in conflict onset, on economic interests in civil wars, on the nature of conflict economies, and on conflict financing. The second area responds to the evolution of violent conflict beyond the categories of “interstate” or “civil” war and shows how political economy research adapted to new types of violent conflict within states as it moved beyond the “post-Cold War” era. Overall, the literature on the political economy of violence conflict emphasizes the role of informal systems behind power, profits and violence, and the economic interests and functions of violence underlying to violent conflict. It has also become a conceptual laboratory for scholars who after years of field research tried to make sense of the realities of authoritarian, violent or war-affected countries. By extending the boundaries of the literature beyond the study of civil wars after the Cold War, political economy research can serve as an important analytical lens to better understand the constantly evolving nature of violent conflict and to inform sober judgment on the possible policy responses to them.
Jack A. Goldstone
Population movements can affect security in a variety of ways. Aside from altering a society’s overall balance of population and physical resources, they exert a considerable influence on the institutions of society—the state, elite recruitment and social status, the military, labor organizations and peasant villages—in a way that undermines political and social order. The consequences of population movements for security can also be seen in differential population growth and migration, differential aging of different populations, and issues of resource allocation and climate change. The work of T. R. Malthus in the early nineteenth century advanced the argument that more people would put an undesirable burden on societies, and weaken them. Julian Simon turned the Malthusian argument on its head with his claim that people were the “ultimate resource,” and that the more people were around to work on solving the globe’s problems, the more likely it was that powerful solutions would be found. The debate between Malthusians, represented by Paul Ehrlich, and Cornucopians, represented by Simon, from the 1960s to the 1990s was primarily about the impact of population on economic growth. In the 1990s, a new direction emerged in the debate on population and security. This was the argument that population growth would lead to local shortages of critical resources such as farmland, water, and timber, and that these could trigger internal conflicts and even civil wars. These conflicts arise only where states and economies are relatively weak and unable to respond to population growth.
Poststructuralism is an International Relations (IR) theory that entered the domain of Security Studies during the Second Cold War. During this period, poststructuralists engaged with power, security, the militarization of the superpower relationship, and the dangers that the nuclear condition was believed to entail. Poststructuralism’s concern with power, structures, and the disciplining effects of knowledge seemed to resonate well with the main themes of classical realist Security Studies. At the same time, the discursive ontology and epistemology of poststructuralism set it apart not only from Strategic Studies, but from traditional peace researchers who insisted on “real world” material referents and objective conceptions of security. The unexpected end of the Cold War brought challenges as well as opportunities for poststructuralism. The most important challenge that arose was whether states needed enemies. The terrorist attacks of September 11 and “The War on Terror” also had a profound impact on poststructuralist discourse. First, poststructuralists held that “terrorism” and “terrorists” had no objective, material referent, but were signs that constituted a radical Other. They viewed the actions on September 11 as “terror,” “acts of war,” and “orchestrated,” rather than “accidents” committed by a few individuals. The construction of “terrorists” as “irrational” intersected with poststructuralist deconstructions of rational–irrational dichotomies that had also been central to Cold War discourse. These responses to “the War on Terror” demonstrated that poststructuralist theory still informs important work in Security Studies and that there are also crucial intersections between poststructuralism and other approaches in IR.
Berenike Prem and Elke Krahmann
While early private military and security companies (PMSCs) were likened to mercenaries, today most scholars agree that PMSCs constitute a new phenomenon. They are organized as legitimate corporate entities, have a distinct legal status, and provide a wide range of military and security services. This definition reflects the evolution of the PMSC industry, which has moved beyond combat services to supply everything from transport, logistics, and maintenance to military and police training, demining, intelligence, risk analysis, armed and unarmed protective services, anti-piracy measures, border protection, and drone operations. Not only have PMSC services diversified, but so has their client base. In addition to industrialized and failed states, transnational corporations, international organizations, and even NGOs increasingly make use of PMSCs. There are several explanations for the growing recourse to these companies. Functional explanations see the employment of PMSCs as a rational response to the glaring gap between demand and supply in the market for force. Ideational and constructivist approaches, by contrast, impute national differences in the outsourcing of military and security services to dominant beliefs and norms about the appropriate relationship between the state and the market. The consequences of using PMSCs, including the accountability, effectiveness, and state control of PMSCs, issues of gender and racial equality, and theoretical implications for the location of political authority and the public good character of security are key issues. So is the question of suitable forms of regulation for the industry, including national and international laws, informal industry self-regulations, and hybrid regulatory approaches such as multi-stakeholder initiatives and standard setting schemes.
Psychology plays a key role in the success of strategy and is therefore important to the study of international security. There are four general approaches to the psychology of strategy. The first focuses on personality, and more specifically on individual differences, cognition, and the use of evolutionary psychology and neuroscience to investigate human nature. The second approach draws on deterrence theory, which considers how an actor can keep a target from doing something it would otherwise do. A political psychological perspective on deterrence consists of three elements. First, psychological approaches to deterrence reject stimulus–response models and instead lay emphasis on understanding cognition and emotion. Second, deterrence is a policy rather than a philosophy. Third, whereas normative theories explain how one ought to behave (and thus cannot be disconfirmed by evidence), psychological theories change in response to new evidence, such as with the development of prospect theory. The third aspect of strategic interaction involves learning and intelligence assessments. Based on this approach, how people learn, what they are likely to learn, and the problems of assessing the intentions and capabilities of others are central to strategy. The fourth and final approach is concerned with the strategy of group conflict, which has generated two waves of research: the first analyzed how material inequality or competition for resources gives rise to psychological forces that result in group cooperation and between-group competition, and the second added nonmaterial causes to explain group relations.