16 October 2023
‘Doing good deeds quietly’: the rise of intelligence diplomacy as a potent tool of statecraft
By Chris Taylor
‘Intelligence diplomacy’ - using intelligence actors and relationships to conduct, or substantially facilitate, diplomatic relations - is a potent tool for statecraft; useful in specific circumstances to either enhance conventional diplomacy or create subtler lines of communication. Intelligence diplomacy, its increasing utility and potential hazards, is the subject of Doing good deeds quietly, the latest report from ASPI’s Statecraft & Intelligence Centre.
The report finds that governments turn to intelligence diplomacy when a variety of circumstances – and critically those governments’ assessments of related capabilities and effectiveness of their intelligence services – makes use of intelligence actors or relationships attractive and advantageous.
Furthermore, Doing good deeds quietly finds that governments should use intelligence diplomacy selectively and purposefully, in concert and collaboration with other arms of policy, and with robust, agreed policy objectives and parameters. They should also be wary of over-use, for the effective utility of intelligence diplomacy depends in part on prudent and selective application.
For politicians, policymakers and the interested public, understanding the important role intelligence diplomacy can play in international relations provides a fuller sense of what it is that intelligence agencies actually do in their name