Espionage and diplomacy: Strategic intelligence as a factor in international relations

Intelligence and espionage affairs are often treated as intriguing yet anecdotal parts of diplomatic history. Nevertheless, a closer look at key junctures of international relations in the last two centuries exposes the central role strategic intelligence plays in international politics. The fate of nations has often been decided on the basis of their ability to gather, understand and act upon information about the international system that surrounds them. In addition, the world of strategic intelligence provides a distinctive setting for international interaction, both as a key arena for international conflict, as well as a platform for international co-operation.

The course examines the role of strategic intelligence as distinct component in the process of foreign policy-making by focusing on two distinct dimensions. First, it focuses on intelligence as a source of information shaping national leadership’s policy choices. From Pearl-Harbor, through the Berlin 1961 Crisis and to the 9/11 attacks, we will explore the manner in which intelligence information and assessments influence the strategic decision-making process of leaders and nations in times of conflict and peace. Second, the course investigates the political usage of intelligence as an instrument of influence and warfare in international relations. We will examine the practices of disinformation and deception operations and allocate specific emphasis to Cyber Warfare.


This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.