Review: Intelligence Elsewhere – Spies and Espionage Outside the Anglosphere

4 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Philip H. J. Davies and Kristian C. Gustafson (eds.)

4.0 out of 5 stars Long Overdue, A Very Fine Start, More Can Be Done, December 23, 2013

I am noticing this book primarily to recommend it at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog. I strongly recommend the overview chapter that is provided free within Amazon’s Look Inside the Book feature.

The focus of the book, on intelligence services outside Five Eyes (AU, CA, UK, US, NZ) and the major powers, is long overdue. This book is a very fine start, but it falls short on three fronts:

01 Most of the authors are from the usual Western academic circles. While a few of the authors are new to me, on balance what I am looking for in a work of this potential importance is indigenous scholarship — Gustavo Diaz on Spain, Joan Masiah from Trinidad and Tobago, Andrea Lodiero from Chile, are just a few names that come to mind.

02 It lacks the blend of multiple studies from each region — had I been the publishing editor I would have nurtured the lead editors in sponsoring a conference and assuring no fewer than 3-5 individual country studies for each region (Caribbean, Central America, South America, Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, Pacifica). I would have been much happier with at least three chapters from Africa, with South Africa and Nigeria being of particular interest. For South America in addition to Argentina I would want at a minimum Brazil and Venezuela.

03 It lacks the necessary standardization of coverage across all of the country studies, such that each chapter can be relied upon to address how each country’s varied elements of intelligence handle each of the INTs (HUMINT, OSINT, SIGINT, IMINT, MASINT), how they do processing, analysis, counterintelligence, covert action; how they each address oversight, civil liberties, intra-country sharing, consumer definition, regional information sharing, penetration by or dependence upon foreign intelligence (e.g. Chinese, Cuban, Iranian, Russian), are part of my comparative structure. I would be *especially* interested in lessons learned and success stories from countries that *cannot* substitute technology for thinking.

The index is disappointing — mostly a names index. In a pioneering work of this nature, where one is seeking to document commonalities and divergencies across multiple entities, the index — and ideally an integrated supporting bibliography — are essential.

It would be asking too much to expect a first effort such as this to go beyond the government and study how the other seven tribes of information “do” (or generally do not do) intelligence (decision-support for most, dirty tricks for some), but I would certainly encourage the authors to consider hosting an annual conference that invites papers such that each country’s intelligence can be looked at not only from a government perspective, but also academic, civil society (including labor unions and religions), commerce, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit.

From where I sit, the editors and contributing authors are to be commended for finally offering up such a collection, and to be encouraged to take the necessary steps to broaden and deepen the niche they can now claim. I could even see them doing a rainbow series (gold, brown, gray, red, police blue, orange, olive, and UN blue).

If you are studying intelligence defined as secrets, spies, and dirty tricks, this book is a major original contribution and a must read. If you are interested in intelligence as decision-support, in all its forms, this book is a very small part of a larger mosaic thats has not been adequately documented — I would be truly delighted if the editors made an effort to internationalize their author base and broaden their coverage.

Ten other books I recommend to anyone interested in the topic of intelligence:
Comrade Kryuchkov’s Instructions: Top Secret Files on KGB Foreign Operations, 1975-1985
Chinese Intelligence Operations
Friendly Spies: How America’s Allies Are Using Economic Espionage to Steal Our Secrets
War by Other Means: Economic Espionage in America
Traitors Among Us: Inside the Spy Catcher’s World
Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II–Updated Through 2003
Strategic Intelligence [5 volumes] (Intelligence and the Quest for Security) (v. 1-5)
Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies
No More Secrets, No More Lies: A Handbook to Starseed Awakening (Sirian Revelations)
Competitive Intelligence Advantage: How to Minimize Risk, Avoid Surprises, and Grow Your Business in a Changing World

I want to emphasize how much I appreciate the publication of this book. The US-UK have been arrogant and ignorant for too long. In my own experience the French, Nordics, Dutch, and selected Asian countries have been vastly more competent (and subtle) at leveraging extended networks, and there is much we can learn from others.

For those interested in my 300+ reviews of intelligence-related books, all connected to their respective Amazon page, search for Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Intelligence (Most).

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World