Master of International Affairs   Master of Public Policy   Master of Data Science for Public Policy  

Espionage and diplomacy: Strategic intelligence as a factor in IR

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. From the joint efforts to decipher the enigma codes during the Second World War, the espionage competitions of the Cold War, to the current contexts of the “war on terror” and cyber-espionage, intelligence affairs have been both a key arena for international conflict as well as a platform for international co-operation. In the last two decades, the political importance of discussing intelligence’s role in foreign policy is underscored by the moral and practical dilemmas the practice of global espionage presents to political leaders in democratic societies. Dilemmas about the methods and scope of intelligence gathering often reflect on the delicate balance between civil liberties and national security, as well as demonstrate the strategic interface between technological capabilities and global power.

The course examines the role of strategic intelligence as a distinct component in the process of foreign policymaking by focusing on two distinct dimensions. First, it focuses on intelligence as a source of information shaping the national leadership’s policy choices. We will explore the manner in which intelligence information and assessments influence the strategic decision-making process of leaders and nations. From Pearl-Harbor, the Berlin 1961 Crisis and to the 9/11 attacks, we will analyse the interface between the intelligence analyst and the political leader and its effect on strategic choices nations make in times of conflict and peace. Second, the course investigates the political usage of intelligence as an instrument of influence in international relations. We will investigate how nations utilise covert information and intelligence capacities as active means to promote their foreign policy goals. We will examine the practices of disinformation and deception operations and allocate specific emphasis to the key developments in the field of Cyber Warfare.

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