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Article

Intelligence Analysis: Once Again  

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.

Article

Intelligence and International Security  

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.

Article

Intelligence and Terrorism  

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.

Article

Intelligence Cooperation  

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.

Article

Intelligence Failure Theory  

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.

Article

Intelligence in War  

John Ferris

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.

Article

Intelligence Oversight in the USA  

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.

Article

International Competition and Cooperation in the New Eastern Mediterranean  

Zenonas Tziarras

In the 21st century and particularly during the 2010s, the Eastern Mediterranean acquired unprecedented attention and significance as a distinct geopolitical space with new international and security dynamics. This “new” Eastern Mediterranean geopolitical order was largely “constructed” by global and regional power shifts as well as local developments, such as the trajectory of Turkish foreign policy and the discovery of offshore hydrocarbon reserves. The result was a change in the region’s patterns of interstate conflict and cooperation. On the one hand, countries such as Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Israel became part of an emerging network of cooperation and security architecture. On the other hand, owing to its problematic relations with these states, Turkey remained an outsider wanting to “deconstruct” this new state of affairs and change it to its own benefit. As such, the new Eastern Mediterranean was ushered in during a period of geopolitical polarization that is more conducive to crisis rather than peace and stability and often transcends its boundaries.

Article

International Cyberpolitics  

Benjamin R. Banta

The earliest scholarly writing on “cyberpolitics” focused mainly on the domestic sphere, but it became clear by the mid-2000s that the Internet-generated “cyberspace” was also having massive effects on the broader dynamics and patterns of international politics. A great deal of the early research on this phenomenon focused on the way cyberspace might empower nonstate actors of all varieties. In many respects that has been the case, but states have increasingly asserted their “cyberpower” in a variety of ways. Some scholars even predict a coming territorialization of what was initially viewed as a technology that fundamentally resisted the dictates of sovereign borders. Such disparate possibilities speak to the ambiguity surrounding the intersection of the international system and the political affordances generated by the Internet and related technologies. Does cyberpolitics challenge the international system as we know it—perhaps altering the very nature of war, sovereignty, and the state itself—or will it merely be subsumed within some structurally mandated logic of state-centric self-help? As might be expected, research that speaks to such foundational questions is quite sprawling. It is also still somewhat inchoate because the object of study is complex and highly malleable. The cyber-“domain” involves a physical substrate ostensibly subject to a territorially demarcated international system, but Internet-enabled activities have expanded rapidly and unpredictably over the past few decades because it also involves a virtual superstructure designed to be a network of networks, and so fundamentally at odds with centralized control. As such, some argue that because cyberspace has so enmeshed itself into all aspects of society, international politics and cyberspace should be seen as coevolving systems, and concomitantly that fields such as International Relations (IR) must update their theoretical and methodological tools. Such contentions indicate that an understanding of extra-domestic cyberpolitics has not so much involved progressively developing insights as differing perspectives compete to explain reality, but rather the growing recognition that we are only now catching up to a rapidly changing reality. As part of that recognition, much of the cutting-edge International Studies (IS) work on cyberpolitics is aimed at researching how the central actor in global politics, the state, is increasingly a cyberpolitical actor. This has meant the abandonment of strong assertions about the way cyberspace would exist separate from the “real world” of state interaction, or that it would force the alteration of especially hierarchical forms of state power. Instead, burgeoning literatures examine the myriad ways states seek to resist and control cyberpolitical activity by others, deploy their own cyberpolitical power, and even shape the very cyberspace in which all of this can occur. This focus on “international cyberpolitics” thus involves tracking a complex and growing milieu of practices, all while reflecting on the possibly fundamental changes being forced upon the international system. All of this points to the likelihood that the study of international politics will increasingly also be the study of international cyberpolitics.

Article

International Order in Theory and Practice  

Kyle M. Lascurettes and Michael Poznansky

International relations scholars of all stripes have long been interested in the idea of “international order.” At the most general level, international order entails some level of regularity, predictability, and stability in the ways that actors interact with one another. At a level of higher specificity, however, international orders can vary along a number of dimensions (or fault lines). This includes whether order is thin or thick, premised on position or principles, regional or global in scope, and issue specific or multi-issue in nature. When it comes to how orders emerge, the majority of existing explanations can be categorized according to two criteria and corresponding set of questions. First, are orders produced by a single actor or a select subset of actors that are privileged and powerful, or are they created by many actors that are roughly equal and undifferentiated in capabilities and status? Second, do orders come about from the purposive behavior of particular actors, or are they the aggregated result of many behaviors and interactions that produce an outcome that no single actor anticipated? The resulting typology yields four ideal types of order explanations: hegemonic (order is intentional, and power is concentrated), centralized (order is spontaneous, but power is concentrated), negotiated (order is intentional, but power is dispersed), and decentralized (order is spontaneous, and power is dispersed). Finally, it is useful to think about the process by which order can transform or break down as a phenomenon that is at least sometimes distinct from how orders emerge in the first place. The main criterion in this respect is the rapidity with which orders transform or break down. More specifically, they can change or fall apart quickly through revolutionary processes or more gradually through evolutionary ones.

Article

International Organization and Terrorism  

Peter Romaniuk

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.

Article

International Organization and Vulnerable Groups  

Dennis Dijkzeul and Carolin Funke

The manner in which international organizations (IOs) deal with vulnerable groups (VGs) has implications for the study of International Organization. Vulnerability provides an uncommon, but useful, vantage point from which to examine some of the strengths and shortcomings, as well as the relevance and challenges, of IOs. For IOs, the questions of “who is (considered to be) vulnerable” and “who does what, when, and how to address vulnerability?” need to be answered from both an empirical and a normative perspective. In this respect, it is important to highlight the different definitions, disciplinary perspectives, and evolving paradigms on vulnerability. Addressing the plight of VGs, specific IOs help people at risk or in need, especially when states are either unwilling or unable to do so. Yet VGs have usually struggled to make their voices heard, while structural causes of vulnerability have been hard to address. When aid arrives, it often is late, inadequate, or has unexpected side effects. Implementation of IO policies to support VGs usually lags behind norm development. Still, IOs have carried out considerable work to support VGs.

Article

The International Politics of Memory  

Lina Klymenko

Like the contested remembrance of historical events, collective memory shapes interstate relations, foreign and security policy, and global politics. International relations (IR) scholars studying the relationship between collective memory and international politics link the memory concept to the notions of security, power, language, emotions, gender, identity, trauma, justice, law, and the like. The study of the international politics of memory relies on a plurality of theoretical approaches gained from interdisciplinary works on collective memory. Although collective memory is viewed as a variable influencing foreign policymaking in structural terms within a positivist paradigm in IR scholarship, from an interpretive perspective, collective memory is a practice of remembrance that constitutes a state’s foreign and security policy. Following the advances of the interpretive paradigm in the social sciences, it is expected that more interpretive studies on the international politics of memory will appear. .

Article

International Relations and Outer Space  

Dimitrios Stroikos

Although the study of the international politics of space remains rather descriptive and undertheorized, important progress has been made to the extent that there is already a growing literature examining certain aspects of space activities from an International Relations (IR) theory perspective, reflecting the broader surge of interest in the utilization of space for civilian, military, and commercial purposes. In this regard, this is the first systematic attempt to outline this emerging and vibrant multidisciplinary subfield of IR. In doing so, it covers a substantial body of research on the politics of space that builds on realism, liberalism, constructivism, Marxism, critical theory, poststructuralism, feminism and gender studies, postcolonialism, and eclecticism. The study also discusses a distinctive approach concerned with examining the process of space policy decision-making at different levels of analysis, what can be called “Space Policy Analysis (SPA).” The study concludes by briefly considering possible avenues for future research.

Article

International Relations and the 19th Century Concert System  

Tobias Lemke

International relations (IR) scholars have long been fascinated by the politics of the European Concert of Great Powers—the diplomatic institution said to have provided relative peace, calm, and stability across Europe in the wake of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Interest in the Concert is boosted by arguments that the institutional and normative framework of the post-1815 European international order can serve as a useful template for managing great power relations in the increasingly multipolar and multicultural world of the 21st century. From this perspective, the ability of statesmen such as Metternich and Castlereagh to keep the European peace for almost 4 decades and provide pragmatic solutions to the most vexing international problems of revolution, dynastic rivalry, and national competition is meant to inspire contemporary world leaders to provide security and accommodation in the context of declining American hegemony and rising powers. The persistent centrality of the European Concert as a distinct subject area in IR scholarship raises a number of important questions: What exactly was the Concert and how long did it last? How did the Concert as an institution of great power management change over time? How do different theoretical approaches explain the ability of the Concert to structure interstate dynamics in meaningful ways? Most importantly, is it analytically feasible and normatively desirable to use the 19th century European Concert system as a blueprint for reorganizing international relations today? These questions identify key debates across the existing literature and demonstrate the conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and political diversity of the field. They also reveal that the formation of a disciplinary consensus on the Concert remains an elusive goal. As a result, scholars should remain attuned to ongoing historiographical developments and critically reflect on their own theoretical and political priors regarding the history and future of concert diplomacy.

Article

International Relations, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence  

Ehud Udi Eiran

Scholars and practitioners of international relations (IR) are paying special attention to three significant ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) and big data (BD) are transforming IR, against a background of earlier debates among IR scholars about the effect of technology on the field. First, AI and BD have emerged as arenas of interstate, mostly great power competition. In this context, scholars suggest, AI and BD are important because an effective use of AI and BD adds significantly to military and economic power. The current competition in these fields, between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, brought scholars to highlight at least four ways in which AI and BD are important: (a) Automating decisions about the use of nuclear force could affect nuclear stability, but scholars still cannot agree in what direction; (b) The central role played by the private sector. This, as opposed to the Cold War era, when the state played the leading role in the development of technology ; (c) the gap between the current two great powers in these technologies is narrow, in contrast to the significant gap in favor of the United States during the Cold War; and (d) the wave of new technologies, including AI, makes weapons systems cheaper and more available for smaller powers and political entities, thus offering a possible curb on the dominance of great powers. Second, AI and BD are expected to affect national decision-making in the areas of foreign and security policies. Here, scholars highlight three possible transformations: (a) AI will allow states a path for better decision-making on security and foreign policy matters, through the optimization and speeding of existing policy processes; (b) the technology will omit some of the human shortcomings in decision-making, further optimizing the policy process; and (c) AI will be able to offer predictions about policies of other actors in the international system and create effective simulations to help manage crises. Finally, the inclusion of AI and BD in weapons systems, most notably the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems, brings the promise (or horror) of greater efficiency and lethality but also raises significant ethical questions. AI and BD are also affecting other arenas of interstate conflict including the cyber domain and information warfare.

Article

International Relations of the Pacific Islands  

William Waqavakatoga and Joanne Wallis

The Pacific Islands region occupies 15% of the world’s surface, yet there have been relatively few analyses of the international relations of the Pacific Island countries (PICs). Existing analyses tend to view the region through the lens of the interests of major and metropolitan powers. They consequently focus on how geopolitical competition between those powers is likely to develop in the region but afford little consideration to the agency of PICs to shape how that will occur. This article reimagines the international relations of the Pacific Islands to capture how Pacific Island countries are exercising their agency in pursuit of their interests and to manage the behaviour of great and metropolitan powers. This reimagining involves three analytical moves. First, it subverts stereotypes of “smallness”, “weakness”, and “fragility” which tend to dominate the policy and academic literature of metropolitan powers about the region. Second, it better recognises the agency and activism of Pacific Island countries captured by the concept of the “Blue Pacific”. Third, it accounts for the dynamism and diversity of the nature and interests of the entities and actors that make up, and are involved in the Pacific region.

Article

Israeli Foreign Policy  

Aviad Rubin

The main principles of Israeli foreign policy emerged during the pre-state period and were shaped by Zionist ideology and the lessons of the Holocaust. The primary goal of this policy was, and still is, to secure a sovereign Jewish state in the land of Israel, and a safe haven for world Jewry. Another dominant factor in the shaping of the foreign policy of Israel was the need to encounter the country’s challenging geostrategic situation—small territory; lack of natural resources, until the discovery of natural gas depots in water in the Israeli exclusive economic zone during the last decade; fragile Jewish communities around the world; and a hostile neighborhood. Combined together, these considerations are the issues that rank high on the agenda of Israeli foreign policy and affect Israel’s relationship with the international community, ranging from the global superpowers to third world countries. After maintaining a relatively steady foreign policy program throughout the 20th century, in the 21st century the state made some significant policy shifts, especially under Benjamin Netanyahu’s consecutive governments. These included a halt in Israeli–Palestinian negotiations for peace; a high-profile campaign against Iran’s nuclear weapons program; more emphasis on the maritime domain; and strengthening ties with illiberal leaders around the world. In 2021, the seeming epilogue of Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister leaves an open question about the relative weight of structural and ideational factors vs. powerful political agents in the design of Israel’s foreign policy.

Article

Jihadist Governance in Civil Wars  

Aisha Ahmad

Although many nonstate armed groups try to rule over citizens, of special concern are jihadist groups that take power in conflict-affected states. Not only do jihadists espouse an extreme political vision, but these religiously motivated rebels also have an uncanny ability to rout and even overthrow incumbent governments. Whenever possible, jihadists will try to seize control of the entire state and replace incumbents with a new regime. If decisive military victory is not possible, they will seek control over pockets of territory and will build rudimentary proto-states within official state boundaries. Jihadist insurgents are not only motivated to fight, but are also very keen to govern over territory and people. In their mission to build alternative forms of order, they therefore collect taxes, enforce laws, and even offer rudimentary public services. In many conflict zones, jihadists are able to build stronger social contracts with citizens than the official government. Because of this success, many scholars and practitioners have erroneously assumed that jihadists must be spreading their ideologies to local communities, and thus converting citizens to their extremist beliefs. This analysis fundamentally misdiagnoses why jihadists are able to establish parallel forms of order in civil wars. Jihadists do not succeed in areas where communities have converted to extremism; rather, they thrive in regions where the official government has catastrophically failed to provide citizens with security, order, justice, and other basic services. Evidence from multiple cases shows that government corruption, ineptitude, and abuse—not extremism or ideological radicalization—best explain the rise of jihadist governance in conflict zones. It is not that local communities are enamored with the idea of jihadist rule; rather, they are disgusted and outraged by their incumbent governments.

Article

Kurdish Politics in the Global Context  

Serhun Al

Kurds are considered to be one of the largest ethnic groups in the world—with a population of more than 30 million people—who do not have their own independent state. In the Middle East, they are the fourth largest ethnic group after Arabs, Persians, and Turks. The statelessness of such a major group with an increasing ethnic and national consciousness in the post-Ottoman world led to their traumatic insecurities in the hands of majority-led nation-states that used modern technologies of social engineering including displacement, dehumanization, assimilation, and genocidal acts throughout the 20th century. With the memory of such traumatic insecurities, the driving force of contemporary Kurdish nationalism in the Middle East has primarily been the question of state or state-like entities. Yet, Kurds are not a homogeneous group with a collective understanding of security and self-government. Rather, there are political-organizational rivalries within Kurds across Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran. Thus, it is important to understand the multifaceted Kurdish politics in the Middle East within a global-historical perspective where global power rivalries, regional geopolitics, and intra-Kurdish organizational competition are interwoven together. While the opportunities for Kurdish self-determination were missed in the early 20th century, resilient Kurdish political organizations emerged within the bipolar international context of the Cold War. The American hegemony in the post–Cold War era transformed the Kurdish political status in the geopolitics of the Middle East, where the 1991 Gulf War, the 2003 Iraq War, and the broader war on terror provided the Kurds with many political opportunities. Finally, the shifting regional and global alliances in the post–Arab Spring era—where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has become the global nemesis—created new political opportunities as well as significant threats for the Kurds.