Intelligence and Politics Meet Science

-last update 9.11.2012-

There is currently a convergence of many international academic initiatives towards the development of the intelligence studies domain as a social science project. Such approaches envision theoretical developments that cover the world of intelligence affairs and intelligence per se, from a perspective deeply embedded in social sciences’ specific narrative and research practices. Caught in social scientists’ discourse (some would say rich in methods and poor in results) intelligence issues might look stranded for most of those practitioners who seek, more than anything, improvements in intelligence analysis. A rupture has emerged over time, leaving the parts, academics of social sciences dealing with intelligence topics and intelligence practitioners, aside of any current integrative viewpoint on intelligence.

However, recent academic initiatives, trying to cope with the problem concerning the improvement of intelligence analysis, practice and concept, are focused on achieving a cross-disciplinary view on intelligence analysis. Therefore, principles and facts, expertise and scientific arguments alike, are brought together in very concise manner, arousing intelligence practitioners to the state in which they roll up their sleeves and start learning from other disciplines.

The last two decades have brought new challenges to the world of intelligence affairs, pretty well covered as line items in various PR materials and academic papers alike, yet hiding a greater complexity when it comes to the daily intelligence operating environment. Among the many responses offered by the intelligence practitioners, one has appealed to concepts like intelligence community and intelligence culture: intelligence communities and cultures are needed as never before. Under democratic constraints, old democracies managed the task better than the young democracies, deploying their entire repository of political culture and relative wealth, supporting and listening to all those academic voices that can offer (or not) valuable insight on the subject matter.

AISS 2011 originated in our endeavor to develop the academic dimension of the Romanian intelligence culture. The mimetic reproduction of the issues and procedures employed in Western democratic societies is appealing, but unachievable as it completely ignores the local specificity. Searching further for local innovative approaches, the AISS 2012 event is aimed at discussing the role of scientific approaches in intelligence, beyond the boundaries set thus far in the field, along the two mentioned academic initiatives.

Firstly, we are interested in all those contributions that could shed more light on the problem of intelligence analysis improvement. We are inclined to consider that there is a lack of mutual understanding between practitioners and academics at the level of problem definition, segmentation and communication. Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What Channel (with) What Effect in the problem of intelligence analysis improvement, how practitioners could place into abstraction their requests for academic support, how academics could come from abstraction towards facts and time constrained decision making processes.

Secondly, going beyond analytics, we are interested in all those contributions that could shed light on the way in which social sciences could distort, and be distorted by, intelligence – a concept understood as a specific activity, product and organization. It is always considered that under the light of the Academy questions will finally get their answers, problems will be solved and the intelligence world would be better supported with scientific methods. Challenging such an assumption, we have in mind similar critical questions in other academic domains, e.g. the questions around the role of international relations theory in international relations and diplomacy, but also the role of the scientific socialism in shaping past developments in Central and Eastern Europe.

AISS 2012 is aimed at relating intelligence to science, going beyond analytics and tackling problems which emerge especially in those political spaces that lack the well rooted principles of democratic functioning, institutional and legal frameworks, there where science turns into ideology and ideology into scientific truth.