Nongovernmental Global Intelligence and Security

Nongovernmental Global Intelligence and Security

Global intelligence and security is not purely the province of governmental agencies. An important advisory role is occupied by think tanks, private corporations, university departments, and other groups. Some of these pursue specific ideological or policy goals, while others are avowedly neutral. Some have specific points of focus, for example on weapons or economic issues. Most are not for-profit, but not all: an important sector of analysis on global intelligence and security involves companies ranging from publishers to insurers.

Governmental and nongovernmental groups compared. In the realm of global security and intelligence, the most visible roles belong to national agencies, particularly those of the world's one superpower, the United States. Also significant are groups such as Interpol and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, which oversee intelligence and security across national lines.

There are also the military and action forces of international organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) or the United Nations (U.N.): though neither has its own army, under certain circumstances national armies serve these international organizations. NATO, the U.N., and other groups also have their own policy, oversight, and executive teams that play significant roles, a notable example being the U.N. weapons inspection teams active in Iraq since 1991.

In addition to these agencies and instruments of national governments and multinational quasi-governmental entities, there are also civilian groups that serve in advisory, analysis, and sometimes even action roles. They lack the power to make or enforce laws, of course, but their recommendations are often of value to governments, which in many cases regularly call on their expertise. Included in this broad array of entities are university departments and schools, think tanks and research foundations, study centers, independent evaluation firms, information providers, risk management companies, and others.

Think tanks. The range of groups that provide research, analysis, and policy recommendations to governmental bodies is enormous. A leading example is RAND, a name formed from the contraction of "research and development." Though it is independent, RAND was created in 1946 by the Army Air Forces to evaluate aircraft and other technology. Since that time, RAND's staff has grown to include more than 1,600 persons, most of them involved in research across a variety of disciplines that include not only defense and technology but also public policy.

Another important analysis group is the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which at different times has involved such leading public figures as former Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn, former Defense Secretary John J. Hamre, and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. The mission of CSIS is to advise world leaders on current and emerging global issues by providing strategic insights and policy solutions.

Across the ideological spectrum. RAND and CSIS are both examples of "think tanks," or multidisciplinary research institutions. One of the nation's first think tanks was the Hoover Institution, founded in 1919 by future United States President Herbert Hoover. Its original purpose was to study the causes of World War I, but by the beginning of the twenty-first century it had grown to include more than 60 scholars specializing in areas ranging from international relations to economics. During the cold war, the Hoover Institution's annual reports on communist movements worldwide were a key information source for U.S. policy analysts.

Many think tanks have a particular ideological agenda. For example, on the political right, in addition to the Hoover Institution, there is the Heritage Foundation, whose recommendations typically favor reduction of government spending in most areas other than defense. On the political left, by contrast, is the Brookings Institution, which is dedicated to a model of government as an instrument of their visions of national and international social justice, as well as the Carter Center, established by former President James E. Carter. On the other hand, there are numerous academic policy research groups, departments, and schools—several notable examples are affiliated with Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.—that have no obvious or overt political leaning.

Profit-making enterprises. While most entities involved in global security and intelligence are nonprofit organizations, this is not true of all. One of the most respected sources of information on military equipment of all types, as well as other kinds of security-and intelligence-related information, is the English-based publisher Jane's. A childhood fascination with warships on the part of its founder, Fred T. Jane, led to the publication of the first edition of Jane's All the World's Fighting Ships in 1898. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, Jane's published about 200 different products, including Jane's Defence Weekly, Jane's Fighting Ships, and Jane's All the World's Aircraft.

Other examples of for-profit businesses involved in world security and intelligence analysis include companies in the insurance industry and the related field of risk management. In order to calculate the costs of insuring persons and properties in various locales, it is necessary for companies to possess detailed information on the security climate, including threats related to government coups, asset seizure, and terrorist attack. Some insurers may even employ the services of private hostage-rescue companies that effectively function as non-governmental special-operations teams.



Brookings Institution. < > (February 27, 2003).

Center for Strategic and International Studies. < > (February 27, 2003).

Heritage Foundation. < > (February 27, 2003).

Hoover Institution. < > (February 27, 2003).

Jane's. < > (February 27, 2003).

RAND. < > (February 27, 2003).


Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization)

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