The Use of Intelligence in Foreign Policy
Policies like those pertaining to the military require military information - The Use of Intelligence in Foreign Policy introduction. Mercantile policies require entirely economic information while a revolutionary policy requires political information. What this implies is that the missions and targets of the United States intelligence community will be influenced by the foreign policy of the country. This means it will be possible to explain and make predictions as to the roles and missions of the United States intelligence considering the foreign policy priorities of the United Sates as well as the mix of power applicable. This paper embraces these ideas within the context of the prevailing intelligence literature and harmonizes the outcomes to form a theory of intelligence which can be applicable in predicting the future roles and missions of intelligence agencies.
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Up until this now, there has not been any documented evidence pertaining to the roles intelligence agencies play in offering support towards foreign and national security polices. Coming up with a theory of intelligence explaining the roles and mission of intelligence can be undertaken by making use of the foreign policy of a country acting as an independent variable to make predictions of intelligence requirements. Many strategic planners in the field of intelligence map out the trends in the international arena making use of such in predicting threats which drive intelligence requirements as opposed to self-consciously integrating foreign policy approaches into this effort (Marrin, 2006).
Foreign Policy and Intelligence
With the taking office of President Clinton, several assumptions were made about foreign policy. First, the administration of President Clinton assumed that the Cold War was over. Second, that during the period of the Cold War, Washington had accented to its political-military allies exploiting the United States in international trade. The third assumption made by the Clinton administration was that owing to the indulgence of the United States and the traditional American aversion pertaining to any kind of government steering of the economy, the international competitiveness of the United States was lost. In this aspect the international rivalry in the period after the Cold-War was going to be manifested in the economic front and not in political-military in which case the National Economic Council was established to accord economic issues the same importance as that given to national security by the National Security Council (Kober, 1996).
All said and done however, in real sense foreign policies influence intelligence requirements. For instance, the amount of intelligence required depends on the level of engagements at the international level such as the power applicable. Policies of isolation need less information while interventionist policies require a lot of information. The question which needs to be asked pertains to the kind of information being looked at in such a case (Marrin, 2006). What needs to be noted is that the kind of information needed is also influenced by the type of foreign policy being pursued.
One of the fundamental elements in foreign policy making is the use of intelligence material, obtained not only from foreign operations but also from domestic counter-intelligence. This raises interesting questions regarding the way information is assessed as well as about a certain kind of bureaucratic politics. However in this context, the concern is whether the intelligence services are in a position to run an alternative policy to their political superiors under the guise of official foreign policy. The relationship which exists between politics and intelligence is fundamental to the success of foreign policy and thigh much routine information gathering is a low profile agenda, in the long-run the issues are played out at the highest (Marrin, 2006).
The Politics of Foreign Policy
The fact that intelligence is an integral component of civil-military relation, which can be crucial even in a democracy, was evident when General Eisenhower became the President of the United States during the Korean War. The other instance could be when General de Gaulle ended the Fourth French Republic in 1958. Owing to the fact that the successes and failures of intelligence are spectacular, the foreign policy executive must be attentive to the high advice of intelligence chiefs (Hill, 2006 pp.66-8). Political leaders rise to fame from intelligence forecasts. For instance Jimmy Carter did not recover from gambling in 1980 upon trying to liberate the American hostages in Teheran by means of the military. He was misadvised by the Special Forces he had eventually paying the price during the presidential elections the following November. On the contrary, Winston Churchill partially achieved the mythical status he had as a great leader of war because of his astuteness and experience in using intelligence – an area he continually wrong-footed Hitler.
The fundamental variables in this process entail four issues. First is the quality of the intelligence, second its ability to reach political leaders. Third is the leaders’ judgments and fourth the independence actions of the intelligence community. Our main concern in this case is the last two. Usually, an executive who is secure will have the discretion of either taking notice of intelligence or not. De Gaulle was skeptical concerning the issue and decided to go by his ‘grandes lignes’ he had previously thought out (Hill, 2006 pp.66-8). Moreover, should the official intelligence service not be in a position to follow instructions, there is always a possibility of setting up an informal parallel system the way President Reagan and Colonel Oliver North and his operatives during the Iran-Contra scandal. Still we have Francois Mitterrand with the ‘Elysee cell’ he established having been dissatisfied by the level of counter-terrorism operations. Granted, there is hardly any public audit of these actions except after they have been done, when things go unexpected or illegalities are exposed.
The intelligence services have a natural interest for the carefully selected information they channel out, in underscoring their role vis-à-vis their political masters. This should not make us underestimate the extent of autonomy they usually enjoy in matters of foreign policy. This is partially operational as with ‘eavesdropping’ on enemies communications, which of course could be diplomatically unethical, and partially strategic, in the sense that they are in a position to incorporate their people among the head of government’s entourage, and in rival sources of analysis like research institutes and universities (Hill, 2006 pp.66-8). Of utmost importance, their information is fundamentally not possible to be checked any person outside their own circle as opposed to that of the academic, career diplomat or even a journalist.
Only a few leaders have the time of looking at raw data and those like Churchill or Margaret Thatcher who do posses the tendency of being their own intelligence officers do not have a basis, other than institution and a limited capacity of double-checking with the intention of evaluating the information. All of them just want to rely in human beings to filter the information. Intelligence is also influenced by the political culture of the country in question. In Soviet Russia, the secret police techniques of Stalin resulted to KGB (Soviet Security Services) being made institutions as a main force in all aspects of decision-making at the top levels (Hill, 2006 pp.66-8).
Had the Communist Party been the parallel power structure of the state, the KGB was the parallel party structure. In most cases, the people who are most able would move towards the intelligence services owing to the relative freedom, both personal and intellectual which they could derive from there as opposed to the ideologically top-heavy parties (Hill, 2006 pp.66-8). These are the people with a clear sense of the way life felt at the West as well as the extent Soviet Union was slipping behind during Leonid Brezhnev. It was thus not fully supervising that the candidates they had first Yuri Andropov then Mikhail Gorbachev should have found themselves occupying powerful positions in the USSR.
Ten years of post Soviet Russia having lapsed, Vladimir Putin is in the same position. This kind of power is highly improbable to be found in countries with a wider variety of effective institutions. This is however not to say that the intelligence services are not capable of vetoing the advance of key people they do not trust. Generally, intelligence as a factor has to be reckoned with in the analysis of any foreign policy of a country. It is quite easy to ponder over the surface of activities without raising questions as to the advise top leaders received from their ‘permanent government’ or about the degree to which the latter were engaged in covert operations- having obtained or not obtained authentic authority which did not always lie with declaratory policy. Clear responses to such questions are rare to find, but based on the past record it is not unreasonable to draw a conclusion that intelligence services are once in a while pro-active, and intermittently decisive in the foreign relations of a state (Hill, 2006 pp.66-8).
In the same wavelength the internal divisions they have, relatively limited resources and rather small range of concerns imply that they should not be perceived as the hidden string-pullers of politicians. The implication here is that politicians usually manage to establish their own foreign policy parameters, and in a situation of consensus and continuity, they are likely to have been influenced by deeper forces than the influence of M16 or even the DGSE (Hill, 2006 pp.66-8). Intelligence can be handy when it is least expected though many politicians holding officers worry about many other things locally and internationally than the machinations of the secret services they own. Moreover, the spectacular failures like the inability to forecast the terrorist attack of 11 September 2001 do have detrimental reputation effects which could take years to repair (Hill, 2006 pp.66-8).
Compromising Sources of Intelligence
The future direction of intelligence cannot be addressed without mentioning the role of economic and commercial intelligence. It is important to note that one of the fundamental roles of intelligence is to expose issues of bribery and stopping corruption. Many countries around the world have made it a habit of bribing their ways in order to obtain contracts. Intelligence agencies are supposed to undercover such attempts of bribery. However, in most cases whenever such undercover are made, the sources which provided the information could be compromised. Any foreign government which gets information relating to corruption attempts is bound to carry out investigations pertaining to the ay the information was obtained, an activity which could lead to disastrous effects (Marrin, 2006).
For instance during the Bush administration, Secretary of State James A. Baker III, in his response to requests by the Syrian President Hafez Asad with regard to terrorists based in his country, provided comprehensive information in support of the U.S case (Marrin, 2006). Later, the agents who had established a terrorist organization in Syria were arrested and charged by the authorities in Syria. This portrays the inherent danger of giving classified information to foreign governments. Even if people are not put to risk, sharing information of such stature could jeopardize a source which could give other information crucial to the national security of the United States.
In conclusions therefore, with the advent of global information technology, it is important that the United States makes positive steps towards tapping the potential of advanced computing in enhancing its ability to carry out foreign policy decision making (Berkoff, 1997). This means that intelligence plays a very important role in the process of foreign policy and decision-making. The potential individual and organizational decision-making can be enhanced through artificial intelligence (AI). The use of AI would enable the country to tap from the plethora of available information to gain a competitive advantage over potential enemies. In this sense there is dire need for not only the government but also the private sector decision makes in the United States to allocate more resources towards artificial intelligence.
Berkoff, R. H. 1997, Artificial Intelligence and Foreign Policy
Decision-Making, Defense Technical Information Center. Available at http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA340985
Hill, C. 2006, The Changing Politics of Foreign Policy, Intelligence: A Special
Case? Basingstoke: Palgrave pp. 66-68
Kober, S. 1996, Why Spy? The Uses and Misuses of Intelligence, CATO
Institute. Available at http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-265.html
Marrin, S. 2006 Intelligence Theory and Foreign Policy: Explaining and
Predicting Intelligence Roles and Mission, International Studies Association, San Diego, California. Available at http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/0/9/9/8/1/p99816_index.html