Table of Contents
Politics can be defined as the actions of people, government, or the institution that try to impact how a state of a country can run (Keck & Sikkink, 2014). In other words politics is an arrangement that gives certain people in as group of people power of others. Intelligence on the other hand is the ability of an individual to learn from the past experiences, be able to cope with the new environment, use the critical thinking he/she possess to manipulate other people’s brains and environment. The person also has the capacity to comprehend and deal with intellectual theories (Crenshaw 2018).
Quoniam (2013) define intelligence as a community or organisation that has power to maintain the security of a given country by learning and manipulating other people’s brains and environment for example, the MI6 organisation in United Kingdom and the CIA in United States. Politicisation of intelligence is therefore, the act in which the people in power turn the analysis from the intelligence community to suit their politic ambitions or gains (Bargshady et al., 2014). Intelligence is gathered so that the particular country can be alert and ready for any danger that might come its way. But, some of the big politicians use the information from the intelligence organisations to benefit themselves hence diverting the original intent of the intelligence information which is to inform the security firms on security matters to their own agendas (Keck & Sikkink, 2014). The paper herein discusses the argument that ‘The idea of the politicisation of intelligence is not a helpful one – all intelligence is politicised.’
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All Intelligence is Politicised (Twisting and Politicising Intelligence)
Politicisation is the process where the political community interfere with matters to suit the political ambitions (Keck & Sikkink, 2014). Politicisation of intelligence may happen when the political class deliberately or not knowing change the intelligence data to match what they want. The intelligence data can be interfered with through three main processes one, forcing the intelligence workers to twist the findings to support the policies that the government has created and ignore the true information and intent of the intelligence process (Vergragt, 2013).
Second, when given the findings from the intelligence departments to address it to people, the policy makers only touch on what they want to hear and ignore the other data that contradict their beliefs. The last method is contradicting the estimates that the intelligence people found to satisfy personal gain. For example, the policy makers may not give the public accurate data on the number of diseased people in an attack as the intelligence organisations have found. Most of the powerful countries make use of the intelligence data they have gather about other people and countries to satisfy their own agendas (Platonov, 2015). The corruption in the intelligence community can occur through many channels. Not only the political persons will manipulate the intelligence data to favour what they want but also the diplomats can change the intelligence files to suit their diplomatic issues. The politicians have been provoking the intelligence community for a long time and they have not stopped.
President Lyndon B. Johnson is among the powerful persons in history who is on record for interfering with the intelligence community as stated by Bar-Joseph (2013). President Lyndon B. Johnson used to say that the intelligence communities behave like lactating cattle. The president used to say that he would work hard to get a pile full of milk from his cow but when he lost the attention of the cow, it would swig its tail and smear it through the milk bucket. President Lyndon B. Johnson used to say that the intelligence people behave like the cow because they interfere with the good policies that politicians make. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s perception of the intelligence community justifies why they the politicians should always check the reports and data that these agencies have gathered and make decisions on which ones to see the light (Bar-Joseph, 2013). Controlling of the war machinery and arms like the nuclear bombs during the diplomacy talks between the United States of America and the Soviet Union was the work and responsibility of the intelligence community (Hastedt, 2013). Both the politics and the national security of the United States were at stake, therefore, if the bilateral talks to end the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union would succeed, the President of U.S at that time would gain political recompenses. But if the talks backfire the Soviet Union would gain politically. The situations around the peace talk between the two nations automatically made them interfere with intelligence data to suit the diplomatic arrangements (Hastedt, 2013).
The report by Bejesky (2012) shows that some of the senior members of the Department of Defence of the United States of America and CENTCOM (Defence Department and United States Central Command) politicise the intelligence conclusion. The officials usually force the minor intelligence officers to alter the data of the findings to suit the administration of the president in power at that moment. Most developing countries are affected by the act of politicising the intelligence data by the developed countries. For example, Iraq, Iran and Vietnam really suffer when the wrong data about the number of deceased and the property destroyed in war are altered with when being presented to the United Nations (Rovner, 2013). The developed countries change the figures that intelligent organisations have gathered to fit what they want the normal people to hear (Marrin, 2013). Another example of intelligence interference is where the Soviet Union reported that the toxic gas that was killing the residents of Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Laos was not as a result of chemical biological weapons but from the toxic air caused by coloured gas and oily liquid (Woodard, 2013). The report was not correct because the Soviet government politicised the actual results of the incident which showed that indeed the Soviet army went against the 1972 Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention and used the chemical weapons to bomb the countries. Gentry (2016) further says that Dutch media personnel showed the pictures of Soviet Aircrafts emitting toxic weapon in gas form in Afghanistan at a town called Jalalabad twice in 1980. The film confirmed that the intelligence reported at first was not true it was politicised.
The Idea of the Politicisation of Intelligence is not a Helpful One (Consequences of Politicising Intelligence)
According to Pinkus (2014), it is not the political systems that should decide how the intelligent organisations should be run rather, the laws and regulations of the country which should give directions on how the systems should look like. The interference of the government agencies and the powerful people in the political world in the daily activities of intelligence systems have some consequences on the results the organisations will provide which will then affect the public positively or negatively (Pinkus2014). The politicisation of intelligence results can lead to corruption, social injustice, war, political instability in developing countries, and deterioration of the economy of affected states (Marrin, 2013).
Corruption is a cancer that needs good intelligence and law enforcement systems for it to be cured (Woodard, 2013). However, corruption cannot be eradicated if the intelligence organisations such as the MI6, the Central Intelligence Agency and MI5 are politicised (Rovner, 2013). The work of the intelligence systems is to gather information of people who break the laws of a particular country and then open a case for the suspects to face justice. For example, an agency can have incriminating information of a member of political class, the policy makers can be influence to alter with the conclusions of the data which will then stop the agency from prosecuting the suspect (Bargshady et al. 2014). The interference of politics in the intelligence findings decreases the fight against corruption in the society. The politicians should allow the intelligence community to perform its duties without interference to maintain objectivity of the information collected.
The notion of involving politics in intelligence matters is no that healthy because it may lead to social injustice in the society (Platonov, 2015). Politicians are powerful members of the society who make the policies in the country and appoint the directors of the intelligence organisations. The agencies should be independent from political influence because if the powerful people make decision form the firms then they will prevent justice in the society. Citizens of countries depend on the intelligence organisations to help them get justice (Bargshady et al., 2014).
Politicising intelligence can escalate war between two countries. If one country find out that some of the intelligence data is being interfered with by other country, war might emerge which will lead to deaths of a lot of citizens (Bargshady et al., 2014). Keck and Sikkink (2014) reports that some developed countries have been interfering with intelligence gathered by their intelligence units in Iraq and Afghanistan to cause war between the Afghanistan citizens. The civil war then gives the states a chance to grab the oil from the country in war without much trouble. The purpose of the intelligence data is to prevent deaths by preventing war among people. But, some politicians use the data to escalate war so that they can benefit. Politicising intelligence can lead to political instability in a given country (Bargshady et al., 2014). Powerful nations can interfere with the intelligence of the other developing nations to cause chaos which will lead to unstable political ground. The countries which interfere with intelligence data then benefit through armament policies (Marrin, 2013). The policy makers will then pass a bill to sell weapons to the fighting state. Using intelligence to gain political ambitions is not helpful and is not right.
However, there are some positive reasons as to why the political class may decide to politicise the intelligence to suit them (Bargshady et al., 2014). In matters of national security where a country is suffering from security issues and the data presented by the intelligence agencies can put the security forces in danger, the information can be politicised to protect the forces (Keck & Sikkink, 2014). The intelligence date can also be interfered with to protect the president from harm. Presidents’ image is vital to the peace and harmony of a given country (Woodard, 2013).
Therefore, if there is data from the intelligence community that can tarnish the image of the president, then the data might be manipulated to protect the country. The diplomats politicise the intelligence to so that they can achieve their diplomatic goal (Woodard, 2013). Information from intelligence community might be politicised and manipulated to favour diplomats (Keck & Sikkink, 2014). The act might be wrong because the diplomatic move in action will be full of lies. However, politicisation of the data might help the country achieve the peace it has been looking for. Therefore, when intelligence is politicised for a good reason like keeping peace and diplomatic actions and the affected policies do not impact the citizens negatively then it is helpful (Woodard, 2013).
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Politicising intelligence generally is not right and not helpful. The act hinders the citizens of a given country from enjoying their democratic rights, “the right to information” (Woodard, 2013). The citizens have the right to accurate information from the intelligence that the agencies have gathered. The agencies also have the obligation of protecting the country and its citizens from harm hence the information they have should not be used to satisfy some of the powerful political leaders’ ambitions. The intelligence should be used for its purposes. The political class should let the organisations they have chosen to acquire intelligence for them to do its work independently without interference from anybody (Keck & Sikkink, 2014).
As discussed in this paper the negative consequences of politicising intelligence outweigh the positive impacts. The diplomatic community should use legitimate ways do conduct their activities of making peace. They should not indulge in dirty politics by interfering with the intelligence data which have been gathered for a difference purpose. To conclude, intelligence should not be politicised, rather the intelligence organisations should be allowed to do what they were appointed to do and the politicians or any other powerful person should not interfere with the conclusions of the firms’ findings. Justice depends on the intelligence community and if affected justice will not prevail. Citizens should get the accurate information they are paying for through taxes.
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