Offensive Intelligence
: An Epistemic Community in the Transition from Cold War Liberalism to Neoconservatism

  • Thomas Griffin

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis examines the development of neoconservatism through the lens of the distinctive theory of intelligence associated with the movement. The key primary sources for this theory are the writings of the National Strategy Information Center, and its project, the Consortium for the Study of Intelligence. An analysis of this literature in its historical context shows it to reflect the development of an epistemic community theorising the practice of a cadre of activists experienced in political warfare - the covert intervention by one country in the internal politics of another.The roots of this tradition are traced to the beginnings of modern mass propaganda in the context of the First World War and the Russian Revolution. The Comintern developed as a centre of expertise in the field before fracturing in the 1930s. A group of activists associated with the Lovestoneite group gravitated towards the Western Allies at the outset of World War Two, marking the development of a political warfare coalition, an alliance of state intelligence agencies and sympathetic civil society groups committed to supporting covert political intervention in other societies.This coalition was institutionalised in the early Cold War, but broke up as it lost state support in the era of detente in the 1970s. In the context of a counter-movement against detente, former intelligence officers and labour activists attempted to develop an epistemic community around a theory of intelligence that would provide a basis for renewed state support for political warfare. This theory informed the actions of neoconservatives in the presidential administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.The neoconservative theory explicitly defined itself against rival approaches to intelligence based on scientific values. As such, the neoconservative case has significant theoretical implications for the scope and assumptions involved in the concept of epistemic communities in general.
Date of Award27 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDavid Miller (Supervisor)

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