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Title: Spies and their Masters. Intelligence-Policy Relations in Democratic Countries
Authors: Faini, Matteo
Advisors: Friedberg, Aaron L
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Intelligence
Subjects: International relations
Political science
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: For democratic countries, intelligence agencies are a threat and a necessity. They often provide vital information for national security, but they can also engage in unauthorized activities, like attempting to remove their own government, i.e. subversion, and/or manipulating intelligence for political purposes, i.e. politicization. I develop and test a typological theory of the relationship between intelligence agencies and policy-makers in democratic countries. I answer three questions: how can intelligence agencies be controlled? When will politicization occur? When will intelligence agencies engage in subversion? Intelligence agencies will differ depending on who their main enemies are. An agency will be political if it has a strong domestic subversive movement as one of its main enemies. These agencies will not be politically neutral and the divide between foreign and domestic intelligence will be blurred. Because of these characteristics, it will be harder for policymakers to control them. They will routinely engage in politicization and they will engage in subversion when they perceive their own government as insufficiently dedicated to the anti-subversive fight and when an upcoming close election or divisions among the agency’s principals give them an opportunity to install a stronger government. Instead, if an agency does not have a strong subversive movement as one of its main enemies, it can afford to be non-political: politically neutral and with a sharp divide between foreign and domestic intelligence. Non-political agencies will be strongly controlled by policymakers. They will not engage in subversion and will only occasionally engage in politicization. I test this theory on four case studies: British intelligence from 1909 to 1924; the FBI from 1908 to 1948; the CIA under the Truman administration and Italian military intelligence from 1943 to 1964. I find that intelligence agencies shift from being non-political to being political when a strong subversive movement is included among their main enemies. Political intelligence agencies have attempted to remove governments even in rich democracies normally considered immune from coups-like phenomena, like the US in 1948 and the UK in 1920 and 1924. Lastly, the political neutrality of an intelligence agency is a more effective tool of policymakers’ control than preferences alignment.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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