Monday, April 23, 2007

O'Halpin on British Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism in Ireland, 1965-1972

Eunan O'Halpin, University of Dublin, has posted a new paper, The British Joint Intelligence Committee and Ireland, 1965-1972. It is of interest in the broader, comparative study of the history of intelligence and counter-terrorism. The abstract is short, so I am including as well an excerpt from the beginning of the paper. Here's the abstract:
This paper discusses the performance of the British Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) in anticipating and assessing the dangers posed to British interests by instability in Ireland between 1965 and 1972, and in setting the parameters within which intelligence operations to counter terrorism were mounted. It concentrates on the performance of the central intelligence assessment machinery of British government, not on the politics of Anglo-Irish relations. It explores the performance of the JIC, at least as revealed by the redacted material available in the public archives, in terms of intelligence organization and intelligence failure.

Here's the excerpt:
Most academic writing on the Troubles remains highly Ulstercentric, if not downright provincial: there has been surprisingly little detailed exploration of the work of the Whitehall machinery of government and the impact which this had on political and security policy and operations. This largely contrasts with broadly comparable crises in the 1950s and 1960s in countries such as Kenya, Malaya, Rhodesia and Aden, where scholarly study has mainly focused on British official records disclosing London’s deliberations, responses and plans. While a great deal has been written about intelligence and counter terrorism in Northern Ireland, London’s and specifically the JIC’s role seldom gets any serious consideration. This leaves a gap in understanding of the evolution of British policy on Northern Ireland. Furthermore, it obscures the point that Northern Ireland merits inclusion in the litany of British intelligence failures which have obsessed Whitehall and entertained the wider British public over the decades....
It would be difficult to overstress the centrality of intelligence assessment in the British policy system in the decades since the Second World War.