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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Intelligence is central to foreign policy; although it uses secret sources, its general task parallels that of social science: to understand the world. Intelligence in the broadest sense depends in part on the observer’s theories about state behavior. Secrecy is at the heart of intelligence: gaining access to information that is kept hidden; hiding what the state is thinking and what it knows about the other side; abetting deception as well as trying to detect others’ deceptions. Secrecy and democracy often clash, creating tensions for democratic regimes despite the fact that they can make better use of their intelligence services than dictatorships. Although national leaders need intelligence, the incentives and outlooks of the two groups often conflict. Intelligence activities have multiple effects on foreign policies both increasing and decreasing international conflict. The twenty-first century presents new technologies and new problems that both increase and decrease the role of secrecy.

Keywords: intelligence, secrecy, deception, information, decision making

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