The United Kingdom

Authored by: Michael S. Goodman

Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies

Print publication date:  August  2013
Online publication date:  September  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415507523
eBook ISBN: 9780203762721
Adobe ISBN: 9781134480296


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Intelligence in the United Kingdom has a long and distinguished history. Its roots can be traced back to the sixteenth century, and attempts by Lord Burghley and Sir Francis Walsingham to safeguard the throne of Queen Elizabeth I. Military historian Sir Basil Liddell Hart has spoken of the ‘British Way in Warfare’. Surveying historical trends, he argued, revealed a distinctive British approach to warfare, based on ‘mobility and surprise’ and the strengths of a maritime strategic policy (Liddell Hart 1932). In the same way it is possible to talk about a ‘British Way in Intelligence’ — a distinct way in which intelligence is approached in the United Kingdom. To understand this we need to look not only at how intelligence is organised, but at the underlying rationales behind its structure and how it fits within the wider governmental machinery. This chapter will also focus on current threats and pose some thoughts on how British intelligence might develop in the future.

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