Alpena Community Cold War Foreign Policy Intelligence Discussion Response

Question Description

Student 1: “When looking at the Cold War and the intelligence-gathering related to this war, espionage played a large role in the war. When looking at the Cold War the major contributors to intelligence were the CIA and the KGB. When the CIA was created, its purpose was to create a clearinghouse for foreign policy intelligence and analysis. As today the CIA is used to collect, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence as well as perform covert operations. A book talks about the intelligence study advancements during this time stating, “The late 1970s and the 1980s saw an explosion of intelligence studies, with

a growing body of ‘institutionalist’ examinations of particular secret services, or national intelligence communities. These included major studies of, for example, the British institutions and the KGB. But these works tended to be left to stand alone. The study of intelligence as a truly integral and integrated part of international history and strategic history – one that seriously addressed the charge of the ‘missing dimension’ – grew more slowly. It was still largely missing in 1990” (Alexander, 2013). When looking at this quote above, it shows the importance of the intelligence-gathering during the period of the Cold War. From some of the readings of this book, it seems to show a large advancement in intelligence as a whole which is very important. When considering why we still study this time, I believe we do to look at how they made such advancements. When looking at this time period, “Arguably, however, by the 1990s intelligence studies had genuinely entered the mainstream of international history. Increasing numbers of contextual intelligence studies and also general studies of international history are taking full account of intelligence (Alexander, 2013). This quote furthermore shows the importance of intelligence during this time which backs the reasoning behind the studying of the intelligence-gathering process”.


Alexander, M. S. (2013). Knowing your friends: intelligence inside alliances and coalitions from 1914 to the Cold War. Routledge.

Student 2: “ We study intelligence-gathering related to the Cold War as well as the former Soviet Union for a variety of reasons. Many of the practices and operational procedures used today were developed during the Cold War. Many famous operations and events involving the United States intelligence agencies were carried out during the Cold War as well. The Cold War started almost immediately after World War II ended. At the beginning of the Cold War, the United States’ intelligence community was nonexistent. The Office of Strategic Services had been created during World War II however it wasn’t until the passage of the National Security Act of 1947 that the CIA was formed and the beginning of the modern United States intelligence community. The CIA is the agency that carried out many of the operations that are studies today. The Cold War lasted for the majority of the twentieth century and during that time the CIA as well as other intelligence agencies were still developing the processes that are used today. We study the cold war for this reason; because all modern intelligence-gathering practices took place during the Cold War. Yes, there is a parallel association to the Russia of today. While the Cold War may have ended, tensions between the United States and Russia never truly thawed. The two nations are constantly getting involved with proxy wars, which is similar to actions they took during the Cold War. The Russia of today is very expansionist, much like the Soviet Union. Putin has made efforts to bring territories lost from the collapse of the Soviet Union back under Russia’s control”.

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