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Intelligence and Rogue Nations

What is a Rogue Nation or Rogue State?

The Oxford Dictionary defines a rogue nation as a nation or state regarded as breaking international law and posing a threat to the security of other nations.1 However, this definition does not provide a legal basis or process for the international community to designate a nation as a “rogue nation.” Thus, how does the international community designate a state as a “rogue nation”? One criterion could be nations that have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) are not rogue nations. However, there are three nations with nuclear weapons that have not signed the NPT: India, Pakistan, and Israel.2 Iran and North Korea are signatory to the NPT but North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003.2 Iran is under international sanctions because it is developing nuclear weapons. Iran is designated on the US State Department State Sponsors of Terrorism list; North Korea is not listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.3 A reasonable argument can be made that any or all of the aforementioned nations could be designated as “rogue nations.” However, the reality is the term “rogue nation” is a political device and not a national security term. The importance of intelligence is to identify threats as the first line of defense for the nation. Intelligence education needs to provide the objective foundation for that line of defense.

Intelligence Reality and Political Reality

Intelligence and politics are an unseemly mix. The national security depends on intelligence information presenting the nature and imminence of threats to the country. However, one reality is that intelligence sometimes may be used for political ends in some way. Even so, the imperative importance of intelligence and the responsibility of intelligence education require the intelligence product and education entities are above politics. Iran and North Korea pose actual threats to the US. The nuclear initiatives by each country alter the stature of both nations in the global strategic calculation. By all reasonable standards, North Korea is of little strategic consequence except for a nuclear weapon capability. In contrast, Iran is in a position to destabilize the world economy. Even without nuclear weapons, Iran has the capacity to disrupt the production and shipment of oil from the Persian Gulf region. With nuclear weapons, Iran could close the Suez Canal, destroy the Saudi oil fields, and create a nuclear holocaust in Israel. Iran supports Hezbollah and Hamas terror groups; Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons while engaging the US and its Western international partners in negotiations to halt actions that are part of a nuclear weapon development program. In the Syrian Civil War, Iran supports Shiite groups in the Levant, the Assad Alawite regime in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon. This war appears to be morphing into a regional sectarian conflict between the Shiites and Sunnis. In summary, it does not matter if political rhetoric nominates Iran or North Korea as a rogue nation. The US intelligence community has the moral responsibility to objectively assess the threats from Iran and North Korea, political prerogatives notwithstanding. The policymakers then have the moral responsibility to weigh the unbiased intelligence estimates in the light of US security interest, not short-term political goals.

A Tower of Steel versus the Ivory Tower

The intelligence community (IC) understands the importance of intelligence as a bedrock for the nation’s survival. Each member of the IC holds a sacred trust to stand above political pressures in the production of national intelligence. This trust is served in two ways: first and foremost is the personal integrity of the IC personnel. Second, the role of the intelligence education process is to ground analysts and operatives in the principles of the trade. However, principles alone are insufficient; students must acquire the knowledge to apply the principles in the heat of real world complexities. Online education is a resource to support an intelligence tower of steel. Effective schools provide faculties which include instructors who have field experience to convey a learning experience that meets the challenges of real world threats.

1. rogue state: definition of rogue state in Oxford dictionary. Retrieved: www.oxforddictionaries.com…

2. Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved: www.britannica.com/…/Treaty-on-the-Non-pro…

3. State Sponsors of Terrorism – US Department of State. Retrieved: www.state.gov/j/ct/list/c14151.htm

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