Intelligence among Allies
Intelligence work quite rightly gives preference to “know your enemy” (warnings of war, terrorist attacks, the proliferation of non-conventional weapons) and will continue to devote most of its resources and attention to those potential threats. However, surprises on the part of allies can have strategic implications, so that “know your friend” is also imperative. Intelligence work with regard to allies is subject to certain limitations and encounters dilemmas that do not exist – or exist in less serious form – when it concerns the enemy (lower priority to critical data identification, limitations on intelligence gathering, political leaders maintaining direct contact with the leaders of the target nation, and so on.). In light of the upheaval in the Middle East, what has already occurred and what has yet to come, Israel’s intelligence must be prepared not only to issue warnings and follow the state’s enemies, but also to assess the changes likely to occur within allied nations, warn of the weakening of existing treaties, and note the possibility of creating new alliances and partnerships (with opposition elements requesting aid or with new regimes in the Arab world), while still examining the risks and limitations of such pacts. The first steps in improving intelligence regarding allies might be to increase the intelligence community’s awareness of the possibility of a surprise by an ally; demonstrate the challenges and dilemmas involved in intelligence work on an ally, and formulate ways of confronting them.
In the field of intelligence gathering, it is necessary to exhaust gathering capabilities and gathering from open sources, subject to the necessary limitations. In terms of research, it is necessary to strengthen the research response to the different types of surprises, and to enhance the warning system regarding intentional policy changes (breaking off relations, allies going to war against a third party). Military and political research must be improved, and the issue of regime change requires research about social and cultural depth processes (e.g., heightened religious fundamentalism) that could have political manifestations, the rise of new forces to power, the effect of new elements on foreign policy, and others.
As shown by international and Israeli experience, intelligence services have on more than one occasion failed to assess and predict enemy moves; intelligence is not a magic solution. However, wise use of intelligence may reduce the region’s uncertainty and help Israel’s political leadership manage the nation’s strategic relations.
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