Center for Statecraft and Strategic Communication hosts International Intelligence Conference
Intelligence and secret services play a critical role in war, diplomacy, and statecraft. In the lead up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in 2022, allied intelligence services stepped to the fore, checking hostile intentions by declassifying top secret material, virtually in real time. More recently, the sudden attack upon Israel has been labelled an intelligence failure on par with Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Both conflicts continue to highlight the centrality of intelligence and communication to all aspects of contemporary conflict, from public diplomacy to intelligence sharing to the maintenance of allied coalitions.
To explore these issues, historian Matthew Hefler organized The Intelligence and Security Seminar – a two-day international conference taking place at the Stockholm School of Economics and the Engelsberg Ironworks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site north of Stockholm. A specialist of international history and intelligence history, Hefler is a postdoctoral fellow with the Center for Statecraft and Strategic Communication at the Stockholm School of Economics and a member of the Ax:son Johnson Institute for Statecraft and Diplomacy (AJI).
The Intelligence and Security Seminar brought together some of the world’s leading intelligence historians and practitioners to examine the role of secret and open information in starting or stopping conflict and in waging war from the past the present. Scholars included Calder Walton of the Belfer Center at Harvard University, Gill Bennett, the former Chief Historian of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and John Ferris, the Authorized Historian of GCHQ – the UK’s Signals Intelligence Agency.
With intelligence specialists from across the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe and Sweden, The Intelligence and Security Seminar was a timely effort to examine the most pressing issues of intelligence and conflict. The Seminar was moderated by Shashank Joshi, the defence editor of The Economist, and featured insightful remarks from Magnus Hjort, the Director-General of the Swedish Psychological Defence Agency.