Pili, G., (2021), “Be coherent with yourself! A pluralistic approach to objectivity for intelligence analysis”, American Intelligence Journal, 38:1, 96-103.
Is objectivity possible in intelligence analysis? This long-lasting question can be answered by a new and pluralistic approach to objectivity within the s objectivity possible in intelligence analysis? This intelligence studies literature. If objectivity is possible, first, it must be defined. Second, it must be understood in terms of its attainability—in what way, how, and to what extent. A systematic analysis is offered to tackle the issue through the different angle offered by the philosophy of science, which already engaged in close issues such as politicization in science. Ultimately, the challenge is to fix the analyst’s duty in the face of his/her goal, which requires unfolding the implicit intelligence analyst’s worldview. Finally, balancing reality and ideals, the slogan of intelligence should be: “Be coherent with yourself; be coherent with what you know,” instead of “Speak truth to power.” A conceptual defense of this very idea will be explored systematically. Interested? Write me at scuolafilosofica_AT_gmail.com!
The very notion of intelligence is nuanced and broad. An entire branch of intelligence studies is devolved to exploring what intelligence is. This is what Mark Phythian and Peter Gill called “definitional project” in their taxonomy. Several scholars tackled the definition of intelligence, starting with Michael Warner’s pioneering paper Wanted: A definition of intelligence published in 2002 (almost achieving the twenty years anniversary). After him, many more tackled it (be kind if I advertise that I also proposed a philosophical definition of intelligence in 2019). But another crucial topic is the exploration of intelligence analysis functions such as strategic intelligence and tactical intelligence. Interestingly, strategic intelligence is still a difficult nut to be cracked. Probably because of its dependency on theory. Basically, strategic intelligence allows the identification of the enemy’s intentions to avoid surprises at the strategic level. Easy to say, but very difficult to achieve. Indeed, at least in the public debate, there is a sense that the Cold War was a predictable confrontation from a strategic perspective. Unfortunately, strategic intelligence was pursued with risk and uncertainty as everything else in intelligence. Although it is so important, it is still an underexplored topic. When I first read Itai Shapira’s paper, published by Intelligence and National Security (2019, Strategic Intelligence as an Art and a Science), I hoped we could have covered this topic, and now I am even more persuaded of this choice. Sure, the fact that he tackles the issue from theoretical and philosophical perspectives allured me even more. But, as you will see, there is a good reason for tackling strategic intelligence from this angle. Itai helps us understand the nature of strategic intelligence and tactical intelligence with a very innovative (fresh, I would venture to say) approach. It is then with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet; it is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, Itai: thank you!
1# Itai Shapira, let’s start from the basics. How would you like to present yourself to the International readers and Philosophical School (Scuola Filosofica)?
I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester, studying Israeli national intelligence culture. I am a retired Colonel from the Israeli Defense Intelligence (IDI), where I have served for more than 25 years in various intelligence analysis and management roles – on the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. As a great believer in the dialectic of practice and theory, and after such a long period in the practice of intelligence, I am devoting the current period to a more theoretical perspective, trying to develop some theoretical concepts which in turn could influence practice.
After so many topics, it was time to face one of the structured analytic techniques, also known by the acronym “SATs” (where the “s” is the plural). Actually, when I try to explain to my mother (ah, the mothers!) what intelligence analysis is about, I use SATs. Well, not for analyzing her, but for giving her a concrete example of what intelligence analysts do. All we need is SATs, according to many. But the research in the intelligence studies shows that SATs are not so widespread, their benefits are not so measurable, and ultimately (you will discover in this interview) they are not even so widespread. All the leading intelligence scholars from different corners of the world tackled the issue and, still, there is no universal agreement. Whatever their pros and cons, whatever they are, this is a crucial topic and, I believe, we all must know what they are (if we deal with intelligence). Exactly, for this reason, I thought it appropriate to let Alexei Kuvshinnikov speak about them. Indeed, Alexei is a passionate and professional SATs user, a member of the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE), and, as you will discover, a promoter of SATs use. As a professional expert active in criminal investigation and narcotics for international institutions, and a teacher, he argues for the need for SATs for limiting biases and cognitive pitfalls. Considering his long experience in the field and his knowledge of intelligence methods, Alexei was an ideal referent for talking about this interesting topic. I don’t want to spoiler more, but if you are interested in intelligence analysis, this is something for you. It is then with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet; it is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, Alexei: thank you!
1# Professor Alexei Kuvshinnikov, let’s start with the basics. How would you like to present yourself to the national and international readers and Philosophical School (Scuola Filosofica)?
Dear Giangiuseppe, thank you very much for the compliment, but I have to decline it. Being just a titleless lecturer with no academic qualifications beyond a Master´s degree, I have no pretence of belonging to the academia. Getting a taste of reality leads to getting a taste for reality, and graduate students can only benefit from it, that´s my firm belief. Accordingly, I teach SATs not as a science but rather as a tradecraft. You see, from an academic perspective, there is no difference between the academia and the real world. From the perspective of real-world operators, there often is.
After, well, thirty-four publications (plus the others already scheduled), it was time to cover one of the most fascinating topics in intelligence history. Yes, we are talking about the Russian intelligence and the KGB from the Czarist foundation to our days. The KGB was considered by many as the most powerful intelligence service globally, which should probably raise immediately the question of where and under what conditions such a powerful state institution is indeed legitimate in the first place. This is already enough for presenting this interview but let me add a couple of observations. We should not consider the KGB as a rule in the intelligence realm or as an example to be followed. We must consider it as what to avoid at any cost. Intelligence history is never “just” history (assuming that there is history that is “just” history). For this reason, I approached Professor Kevin Riehle (National Intelligence University, USA). This interview will accompany the reader from the inception of the Russian intelligence to the current institutional frame and organization. It is a deep dive into the Russian intelligence world. The first time I met Kevin, we were in Aberystwyth (back then… in person). We briefly discussed the relationship between intelligence and democracy and the importance of grounding the intelligence activity to the values inscribed into the constitution. More recently, during research on intelligence teaching, I had the pleasure to read one of his papers, this one on intelligence education (highly recommended), and to hear his presentation at the last International Studies Association Convention. It is then with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet; it is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, Kevin: thank you!
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or any U.S. government agency.
When I was working on my recent three-fold research papers on intelligence analysis, I came across a journal article that fascinated me quite a lot since I’ve read the title. It was the case in which the content I read was exactly as good as my expectations (which are usually extremely high when they come to peer-review scientific papers). Indeed, since I started studying war theory and the philosophy of war, Clausewitz’s On War was mandatory reading. Interestingly, Clausewitz is inversely proportionally considered in intelligence and war studies. If he is one of the founding fathers of the modern understanding of war (and rightly so, notwithstanding many critics), he is almost entirely dismissed in the intelligence domain. Yes, true, he stated that intelligence is unreliable by nature, that the commander should avoid to trust intelligence (too much), and that uncertainty is inherently part of war and warfare… and so he couldn’t be said a big supporter of intelligence in general. Is this sufficient to discharge his work? So, when I read An Outline of a Clausewitzian Theory of IntelligenceI finally found a partial vindication of my long-lasting necessity to see Clausewitz better considered within the intelligence studies and, more broadly, intelligence. But even more importantly, in an age that prizes all that comes from the last technological invention but the human brain, it is always healthy to remember how our world is ultimately unpredictable and dominated by an intrinsic uncertainty. The efforts of the last seventy years were to prove that everything has its own place as if nature and human beings are only tiny cogged wheels, in spite of all suggested by history and by ordinary life (actually). Then, after such a reading, I almost felt obliged to contact Dr Lillbacka to have a deeper conversation about these topics. This interview is part of this discussion which, I hope, you will find as fascinating as insightful. In addition, I invite the readers to discover Lillbacka’s publications, which are as rich as rigorous. There is no question that not everything can be covered in a single interview but I hope you will find so much to think about prediction, friction, and uncertainty that, at least, you will be enriched as much as I did. It is then with my distinct pleasure to publish the interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet; it is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, Ralf: thank you!
Since the beginning of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2014, international security research has been extensively shaped by increased focus on information operations and hybrid warfare. The Kremlin’s use of multiple instruments of power, including cyberattacks, conventional troops, economic pressure and massive disinformation campaigns, has threatened security of not only Ukraine, but many Western democracies as well. Although foreign experts’ analysis of the Russian hybrid warfare often takes into account vulnerabilities and mistakes made by Ukraine, it seems to accord less attention to the multiple ways in which the country succeeds in handling Russian aggression. While Ukraine has been a testing ground of new-generation warfare techniques, it has also conducted testing of many diverse countermeasures to mitigate them. To enrich international discussion on the Russian hybrid warfare with the knowledge of Ukrainian strategies and solutions towards it, we have invited to our series Alina Frolova, an experienced professional in the field of strategic, government and crisis communications based in Ukraine. Before assuming her current position as Deputy Chairman of the Centre for Defence Strategies in Kyiv, Alina has served as a public official in the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine and Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine, where she facilitated implementation of strategic and government communications amid the ongoing conflict. In our interview with Alina, we discuss the importance of strategic communications and key factors behind their success, the most effective mechanisms against foreign influences, recent escalation along the Ukrainian border, as well as Ukraine’s image abroad and the country’s progress in the pursuit of NATO membership thus far. On behalf of the Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Roman Kolodii, Alina: thank you!
1# Alina, how would you like to present yourself to the international readers of Scuola Filosofica?
Alina Frolova, Deputy Chairman, Centre for Defence Strategies, Founder of StratcomUA (Center for Strategic Communications), Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine 2019-2020.
Onorato di aver scritto un capitolo nel libro uscito per il Sole 24 Ore! Questa volta è sugli scacchi e sull’intelligence e strategia, imparare a pensare con l’arte della guerra! Il libro è curato da UniChess con un impressionante elenco di autori! Grazie a Roberto Mogranzini per averlo organizzato e a tutti i contributors per il loro lavoro! Dal libro sulla guerra e gli scacchi edito per Le Due Torri e l’articolo pubblicato sull’American Intelligence Journal… al Sole24Ore! Sarà in edicola da questo martedì, mi dicono, ma lo potrete trovare anche in libreria! Un grazie a Eugenio Dessy per aver letto in anteprima quando… non sapeva dove sarebbe uscito: Eugenio, grazie!
With current expansion of digital practices to mitigate the effects of Covid-19, well-calibrated cybersecurity strategies have become even more relevant than ever. Such instances as recent attempts to steal data on Covid vaccines through cyber-intrusions, for instance, demonstrate how dangerous and malicious cyber-threats can be during healthcare emergencies, especially if orchestrated by foreign governments. Indeed, in recent years, many experts began to view cyberspace not so much as no-man’s land but rather a battlefield where individual states can engage in confrontation for the sake of asymmetrical gains. Such scholarship, however, often focuses on government-centric perceptions of cyberspace-related events and presumes disruptive potential of cyber-technologies in situations where, in fact, it is not that pronounced. These habits of thought often preclude a more accurate and better informed appreciation of the role of cyber-threats, especially in terms of their effectiveness, as well as their mitigation through non-government efforts. For this interview, we have invited Dr Lennart Maschmeyer, an expert in cybersecurity, whose work examines existing blind spots and biases regarding cyber-operations and promotes more inclusive cyber-threat reporting among non-state actors. He is a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies (ETH Zurich), a university-affiliated think tank in Switzerland offering security policy expertise in research, teaching, and consulting activities. Apart from his academic research, Lennart has been also involved in coordination of better cyber-threat reporting between commercial cyber-threat intelligence firms and civil society actors. In our interview, we discuss the character of modern cybersecurity threats, the role of digital technologies, including social media, in Russian influence operations, the importance of cyber-threat reporting, and dominant trends that would shape the nearest future of cybersecurity and strategy worldwide. On behalf of the Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Roman Kolodii, Lennart: thank you!
#1 Lennart, how would you like to present yourself to the international readers of Scuola Filosofica?
I am a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich where I examine the opportunities information technology provides for actors to project power in world politics. Specifically, I focus on how technological change has altered the quality of covert operations as an instrument in strategy. Cyber operations are often perceived as a novel instrument, yet my research shows close similarities to subversive intelligence operations both concerning strategic role and operational constraints. What is probably new about cyber conflict is the outsize role played by non-state actors, especially commercial cyber threat intelligence firms whose reporting often constitutes the main, sometimes the only source of data on ‘cyber attacks’. Because these firms are profit-driven, so is their reporting—and this produces selection bias in what is, and what is not reported. This bias distorts how policy makers, academics and the public perceive cyber conflict, and my secondary topic of interests is studying these biases.
Intelligence & Interview has one mission but several goals. One of them is to expand the culture of different national intelligence experiences within the Intelligence Studies framework, which is the international scientific standard and community. Coupled with it, the translation in Italian will reinforce the international ties for the Italian readership. We are doing our best to include as many different nationalities and perspectives as possible. First, the (international) Intelligence Studies are still focused more on the Anglosphere intelligence experience than anything else. But only in Europe, we have so many different approaches to intelligence (in practice) and to intelligence studies (in theory) that we cannot and should not be satisfied with the status quo. As I consider myself much more oriented in international intelligence studies than on the national research (though along with my colleague – Fabrizio Minniti – we already published a paper on Italian intelligence), I strongly believe and advocate for a more integrated and broad discussion on intelligence. Then, for this reason, we already explored several intelligence perspectives (in order of publication: Zimbabwe & Africa, Italy, France, Greece, the Netherlands). However, we hosted scholars from many other countries to bring their knowledge and experience (USA, Canada, UK…). With this aim in mind, it is my pleasure to publish this Interview with two outstanding experts, very experienced professionals, Robin Libert and Guy Rapaille. This is the first “double” Intelligence & Interview, which makes me particularly happy with it. I want to thank Mr. Davide Madeddu for his early translation from French. I want also to thank Giacomo Carrus for his work on the English version of this interview. Without further ados, it is then with my distinct pleasure to publish the Interview on Scuola Filosofica – for those who don’t know it yet; it is one of the leading cultural blogs in Italy. In the name of Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Giangiuseppe Pili, Robin and Guy: thank you!
#1 Mr Robin Libert and Mr Guy Rapaille, let’s start from the basics. How would you like to present yourself to the International readers and Philosophical School (Scuola Filosofica)?
In the modern digital era, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be stressed enough. As recent developments have shown, the security of personal data and trade secrets, the protection of critical information infrastructure, even the integrity of democratic processes as such all depend on the smooth functioning of cybersecurity mechanisms. This especially holds true in the current Covid-19 reality, where increased digital consumption and massive readjustments of ways of life and work through cyber-technologies all multiply the possibilities for major digital assets to be compromised. In popular imagination, however, cybersecurity is still closely connected to the technicalities of the field, the so-called hard cybersecurity, while the soft – i.e. legal, political, socioeconomic, cultural, and ethical – dimensions of it remain yet understudied. To narrow this gap, we have invited to our interview series Lucie Kadlecová, an expert in cybersecurity policy and governance. She is a PhD candidate at Institute of International Studies, Charles University (Czechia) and a senior associate in strategy and threat intelligence for Estonian cybersecurity company CybExer Technologies. Both Czechia and Estonia are well-known hubs of cyber-technological expertise, so Lucie Kadlecová’s experience in academia and industry in both countries can help highlight the key trends in this field from the insider’s perspective. In our interview, we discuss cyber security strategy of the EU, the role of non-state actors and public-private partnerships in cybersecurity governance, the importance of cyber hygiene and gender equality in the field, as well as the prospects for enhanced cooperation between industry and academia in tackling cybersecurity challenges worldwide. On behalf of the Scuola Filosofica Team, our readers, and myself, Roman Kolodii, Lucie: thank you!
#1 Lucie Kadlecová, how would you like to present yourself to the international readers of Scuola Filosofica?
I suppose I could be described as either a professional with an academic background or as an academic with professional experience, depending on the reader’s point of view. By nature, I am more of a professional who likes hands-on experience. That’s why I am deeply grateful for my previous experience working as a trainee for international organizations such as NATO, and helping to build the then-quickly growing Czech National Cyber Security Centre years ago. At the same time, however, I could see a gap between practice and academia in the “soft topics” of cyber security such as international relations and international law in the Czech Republic as well as around Europe. This feeling encouraged me to pursue my PhD, and to start teaching and publishing about these topics in order to contribute to closing this gap. At the same time, academic experience from King’s College London, Charles University in Prague, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as other interactions in the academic world shaped my way of thinking about cyber security and its “soft” aspects.