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Global Security and Intelligence Studies

Global Security and Intelligence Studies is a bi-annual, peer-reviewed, open access publication designed to provide a forum for the academic community and the community of practitioners to engage in dialogue about contemporary global security and intelligence issues. The journal welcomes contributions on a broad range of intelligence and security issues, and from across the methodological and theoretical spectrum. The journal especially encourages submissions that recognize the multidisciplinary nature of intelligence and security studies, and that draw on insights from a variety of fields to advance our understanding of important current intelligence and security issues. In keeping with the desire to help bridge the gap between academics and practitioners, the journal also invites articles about current intelligence and security related matters from a practitioner perspective. In particular, GSIS is interested in publishing informed perspectives on current intelligence and security related matters.

Call for Papers

Current Issue: Volume 5, Number 2 – Fall/Winter 2020


Editorial Welcome

Melissa Layne and Carter Matherly
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.1

Policy Relevant Commentary

Prediction, Plus Patchwork, Equals Pandemic

Margaret Marangione
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.2


Just Short of Cyberwar: A Focus on Jus Ad Vim to Inform an Ethical Framework for Cyberspace

Al Lewis
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.3

Cyber conflict has yet to reach the lethality that defines war. As such, it has become the preferred method of engagement for nation-states. However, in its current state, there is no ethical framework to guide the policymaker. This article focuses on the concept of jus ad vim (just short of war) to inform an ethical framework for cyber conflict. This proposed framework is founded on five separate concepts pulled from the literature: intentional cyberharm, preventative force, punctuated deterrence, cyber sovereignty, and international response. Herein, two pivotal case studies, the Stuxnet worm against an Iranian nuclear facility and the Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) use of a kinetic strike in response to a cyberattack, are explored using a Grounded Theory approach. This article concludes that these concepts, as demonstrated through the case studies, can form the basis for ethical decision-making across cyberspace.

The New River Report: Socio-Ecological System Impacts of Anthropogenic Pollution on New River Communities in Belize

Kristin Drexler
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.4

Changes to the New River in northern Belize, Central America, including an annual eutrophication event near the river’s primary urban setting, have had multiple impacts on New River communities. This mixed-method study examines perceptions of New River changes from forty-two resident interviews in twelve riverside com- munities using phenomenology and chi-square tests of independence methods. This study finds five categories of socio-ecological system (SES) impacts from anthropogenic pollution to residents; river pollution (exacerbated by drought conditions) impacts human health, livelihoods, environment, culture, and social justice. There are implications for community future uncertainty, powerlessness, and lack of trust in industry and government. Comparing zones in the study, the research found statistical significance in six factors. Pollution and other river changes were perceived to originate from a variety of sources, primarily industrial drainage. Government leadership, along with industry, agriculture, and community stake- holders, can facilitate solutions to safeguard the New River and its communities.

International NGOs Targeted by Terror: The Impact of Religiosity on Independence, Neutrality, and Impartiality

Kathryn Lambert
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.5

The literature recognizes faith-based organizations as distinct humanitarian actors. Attempts to explore how these organizations differ from their secular counterparts produce few empirical results. This study focuses on international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) attacked by terrorists to assess whether faith-based organizations differ from secular organizations across two issues: 1) commitment to the humanitarian principles of neutrality, independence, and impartiality and 2) commitment to advocacy and global engagement. Religiosity, neutrality, independence, impartiality, advocacy, and global engagement are operationalized using the social media presence of organizations attacked by terrorists between September 12, 2001 and December 31, 2018 as specified in the Global Terrorism Database. The faith of international NGOs is coded at the ordinal level using the categories of secular, faith-inspired, and faith-based to capture increasing degrees of religiosity. Ordinal logistic regression reveals that as the religiosity of organizations increases, commitment to independence and neutrality decreases. No relationship is observed between religiosity and commitment to impartiality, suggesting that religious victim-organizations are equally commit- ted to this humanitarian principle. Religiosity and global engagement are not significantly related. However, faith impacts advocacy efforts with increasing levels of religiosity associated with decreasing levels of policy advocacy. This study concludes that religious organizations are distinct actors whose faith may complicate commitment to core humanitarian principles.

How Norm-Based Issue Frames Shape Public Support for Refugee Protection Policy: An Analysis Based on Survey Experiments in France and Germany

Melissa Schnyder
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.6

This research uses experiments to examine whether the way that refugee protection is framed in the context of specific norms affects individuals’ support for it as a policy issue across France and Germany. The treatments employ frames that emphasize human rights, violence against women (VAW), human security, humanitarianism, and autonomy norms, all of which are reflected in both the forced displacement literature and advocacy for refugees. The experiments provide some evidence that only certain norm-based issue frames have an effect on support for refugee protection policy, suggesting that some norms may be more powerful than others for garnering support in this issue area. The conclusion discusses these findings relative to the extant literature and considers the implications for advocates who seek to address the issue of refugee protection.

Operationalizing Intelligence Collection in a Complex World: Bridging the Domestic & Foreign Intelligence Divide

Jim Burch
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.7

Intelligence collection is a powerful US intelligence capability, which has demonstrated its effectiveness in categorizing complex threats. Intelligence collection, however, is not “operationalized” in the sense that it can quickly shift collection capabilities to focus on adaptive threats. Additionally, it is not bridged to effectively function across the domestic and foreign elements of the intelligence community. Modern-day threats are adaptive, complex, and span national boundaries, while intelligence collection remains largely within its domestic and foreign confines. While there are high-level bodies that coordinate collection, a key gap in the intelligence community’s approach is an organizational element that operationalizes and bridges domestic and foreign intelligence collection to ensure the community can meet the highest priority threats. This represents a significant seam in the community’s capacity to meet modern-day threats in a complex environment. This conceptual paper uses Hesselbeim’s seven-faceted transformation framework to develop an approach to operationalizing and bridging intelligence collection across the domestic and foreign divide. It concludes that such an organizational bridging function is valid and necessary in order to meet modern-day and emergent threats.

Notes from the Field

Wrangling Stochasticity & Deconstructing Dimensionality: An Illustration of Fractals in Discursive Spaces

Douglas Rose
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.8

Strategic practitioners and analytic methodologists actively involved within cyberspace management, defense, and manipulation require an exceptionally refined mastery of concepts associated with specific approaches in order to effectively parse recommendations, actions, and other related outputs. This implies the presence and value of physical and cognitive dimensionality. Specific to this growing awareness of dimensionality as it relates to data across a myriad of channels and communities resides a need for development of awareness of specific spaces, how they align with parallel instantiations of information due to their shape, and how their temporally-appropriate abductive to deductive span contributes to the development of hypothesis and theory. Guiding any cohort to think in this way requires an understanding of a virtual system of systems and an appreciation of how specific shapes and spaces might represent a comfortably conjoined path within an emergent methodology.

Book Reviews

Mindf*ck, Cambridge Analytica and The Plot to Break America

Mark Peters, II
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.9

The top topics across today’s cable news scoreboard routinely feature im-peachment, data breaches, sex scandals, or crimes by politicians, all creat-ing fertile ground for profitable crops from publishing insider perspectives. Mindf*ck follows the recent trend paved by volumes like Fire and Fury [Trump], A Warning [Trump], Targeted [Cambridge Analytica], or Holding the Line [Secre-tary of Defense], which all race to prove their worth through distinct viewpoints away from the mainstream media’s cameras. Christopher Wylie succeeds in deliv-ering his viewpoint, only his viewpoint, and nothing but his viewpoint throughout the entire piece. Although departing two years before becoming a whistleblower, Wylie helped found Cambridge Analytica (CA) despite publicizing UK campaign finance and US Foreign Agent Registration Act violations. Mindf*ck depicts Wy-lie’s journey from a young Canadian political staffer to morally compromised data analyst. The guilt arises from his creating the methods used to scrape and analyze personal data from social media sites, only to realize he lacked any authoritative say on data usage. An interesting perspective on how data analysis techniques can bite the wielder shows modern networks as not working with simple tools, but be-having more like snake handling. Lacking any reference sources other the author, Mindf*ck reads quickly and should be a staple for anyone working with big data platforms who does not understand their potential impacts.

Because We Are Human: Contesting U.S. Support For Gender and Sexuality Human Rights Abroad

Elise Rainer
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.10

Cynthia Burack’s book Because We Are Human: Contesting US Support For Gender And Sexuality Human Rights Abroad (2018) is an essential contemporary book for scholars, students, and practitioners who address LGBTI rights and international affairs. Burack provides a unique normative political the-ory perspective on US foreign policy and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). Often unknown to the general public, US diplomats advocating for SOGI human rights globally and their work are meticulously investigated by Burack. Currently, the United States provides the Global Equality Fund, the single largest source of financial support for LGBTI civil society worldwide.1 From Uganda to Chechnya, this fund offers critical support to local human rights activists carrying out the dangerous work of advocating for SOGI human rights in their countries. Burack demonstrates how the US has become the biggest global player for SOGI human rights. This is remarkable, given the continued contestation domestically in the United States for LGBTI equality. It is also notable in that Burack reveals how some LGBTI activist themselves, as well as groups on the political left side of the spectrum, criticize American support for SOGI human rights globally.

The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics

Alfred Lewis
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.11

In his book, The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics, author Ben Buchanan attempts to contextualize modern-day cyber-attacks within the domain of geopolitics—a daunting task, as the cyber domain is inherently untrustworthy, making definitive proclamations suspect. That said, by applying the statecraft concepts of signaling and shaping, Buchanan builds a convincing case using practical comparisons to espionage and conventional warfare, underscoring the conclusion that cyber-attacks are not random acts of ever-increasing destruction; instead, they represent a conscious cyber struggle between states. In other words, cyber-attacks have become tools for the policy-maker’s signaling and shaping operations. “This is the new form of statecraft, more subtle than policymakers imagined, yet with impacts that are world-changing” (3). To this end, the author provides a convincing argument for cyber-attacks as tools of state power, rather than the random acts of criminals.

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

Jim Burch
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.2.12

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, by Walter Isaacson provides a descriptive and expansive look into the causal forces that created the digital revolution. While modern society often takes for granted much of the conveniences afforded by the digital age, Isaacson’s insightful examination of how these conveniences were realized provides us with a deeper understanding of the innovative process and how the creation of these goods and services were the result of evolutionary steps realized over several decades. An examination of history and of the key actors that played a role in realizing the digital revolution, however, is more than a recitation of facts and timelines. In this respect, Isaacson’s seminal work into the evolutionary and innovative process of the digital revolution reveals several truths for creating and sustaining innovation. These key insights are also directly relevant to posturing national security and strategic intelligence endeavors to meet the modern-day challenges of the global operating environment.




Volume 5, Number 1 – Spring/Summer 2020

Download Spring/Summer 2020 Issue

Editorial Welcome

Carter Matherly
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.1


The Case for the Sixth Domain of War: Psychological Warfare in the Age of Advanced Technology

Bethany Vailliant and Media Ajir
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.2

Wills win wars. A country at war must have and maintain the sup- port of its people to achieve victory. Targeting will, using advanced information technology (IT), presents a new vulnerability for the United States. Literature in this field has largely ignored the psychological effects of new, cyber-enabled tools; therefore, the concept of information warfare has tended to favor primarily technical infra- structure. This oversight has caused state mismanagement of what was once carefully managed disruption by the United States. Tools and techniques have been refined to transcend effects beyond mate- rial goods, entering our minds and manipulating our behavior. The weaponization of these tools urges us to consider the sufficiency of our current framework for warfare—the five domains. This research argues that due to the disruptive change in the delivery method of information, a sixth, psychological domain should be established to properly assess and operationalize effects going forward.

Psychology as a Warfighting Domain

Sarah Soffer, Carter Matherly, and Robert Stelmack
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.3

Using psychology to gain advantage over an enemy is as old as warfare itself. Psychological warfare predates its modern moniker, and military leaders have sought to understand their enemies and influence their behavior since military leaders emerged. In this paper, the authors discuss the history of psychology as a warfighting domain, using examples from myth and antiquity as well as select periods in which the United States or other countries used psychology to engage in conflict. An exploration of Russia’s use of influence and its effect on the US highlight what conflict in the information environment looks like. The authors then briefly discuss the current state of information warfare and provide thoughts on what this will look like moving forward in an interconnected world.

Discovering Influence Operations on A Preliminary Coding Framework

Alexander Sferrella and Joseph Z. Conger
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.4

Bots are an important tool for influence actors, and greatly contribute to the complexity and breadth of influence operations (IFOs) across many platforms.—the second-most popular streaming site—is one such platform. Recognizing that influence actors may expand operations within Twitch, the following study develops a framework that mines data from the Twitch platform to identify potential bots running IFOs. Stream comments from 14 Twitch channels were run through a custom Python script. We identified 69 of 128 streams, from 12 channels, as having an anomalous comment count OR comment speed. Of those streams, we identified 7,332 users as having an anomalous comment count AND comment speed. However, we could not distinguish 100 randomly selected anomalous users as bots or humans after a manual analysis. Overall, our research provides future researchers with a modular method to collect and isolate Twitch data containing bots.

A New Russian Realpolitik: Putin’s Operationalization of Psychology and Propaganda

Joseph Pagen
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.5

For two decades, Vladimir Putin has held the highest levels of position and power in Russia. The leader and his collaborating elites harness an enduring Russian identity and methodically design a path for a manipulated society to eagerly regain legitimacy, respect, and relevance. This qualitative and exploratory study examines Putin and his apparatus’s efforts to unify Russian society and expand its influence through the cultivation and operationalization of specific psychological theories. Through theory triangulation, thematic coding, and analysis of relevant and current open-source material, convergence demonstrates Putin’s disciplined understanding and deliberate management of Russian identity and perception. Evidence indicates Putin’s comprehensive and synchronized approach to achieve a spectrum of policy objectives. This study challenges the traditional notion of leadership’s rational pursuit of self-interest by showcasing Putin’s operationalization of power politics, propaganda efforts, and malleable internal workings of an exclusive society for both manipulation and exploitation.

What’s Thinking Got To Do With It? The Challenge of Evaluating and Testing Critical Thinking in Potential Intelligence Analysts

Margaret S. Marangione
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.6

This paper examines the need for critical thinking skills in intelligence analysts (IA) in the twenty-first century, with the proliferation of false and misleading information, including the weaponization of information and Big Data. Additionally, it reviews concerns about the critical thinking capabilities of millennial and Gen Z IAs against the performance standards of IC Directives (ICDs) 203 and 610. The debate of how to teach and assess critical thinking skills is also considered. The methodology of evaluating critical thinking tests and the results of a critical thinking test administered to IAs is explored against the backdrop of whether testing is valid when hiring analysts.

Reflecting History: The Basis for Assessing the Future

James Burch
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.7

The US Intelligence Community has grown immeasurably in the past several decades as it faces the challenges of a growing and diverse global threat environment. Additionally, in a digital age of technology and interconnectedness, intelligence often takes a techno- centric approach, where intelligence analysts focus on key technological issues, capabilities, and programs related to the threat environment. While these issues are of significant concern, it is easy to overlook some of the “soft” requirements that contribute to the understanding of the intelligence problem—namely, a well-grounded appreciation and understanding of history and how it informs a broader understanding of culture and group and individual psychology. Understanding the historical narrative informs an appreciation of the environment, culture, and underlying psychology. Even with its limitations, history provides the intelligence professional with the basis of assessing the future.

An Interview with Emerson Brooking, the co-author of LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media

Conducted by Dr. Carter Matherly
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.8

Mr. Emerson Brooking is the co-author of the book LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media. The book not only highlights how other nations have taken offensive maneuvers using social media, but also managed to move past traditional psyops and employ psychology as a warfighting domain in its own right. Mr. Brooking’s work continues today as he maps the battlespace in this emergent domain. For an in-depth review of LikeWar, please see the book review in this volume by Austin Gouldsmith. To see more of Mr. Brooking’s current work and access some fantastic datasets, visit his repository on GitHub, Dichotomies-of-Disinformation.

Policy from the Field: Contesting the Psychological Domain during Great Power Competition

Jeremiah Deibler
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.9

It is comparatively insignificant but nonetheless relevant to discuss Great Power Competition in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Despite the need for global cooperation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, elements of Great Power Competition persist. In early March, Lily Kuo, a Hong Kong correspondent for the Guardian, detailed the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) and Chinese state media’s alternative narrative, which sowed seeds of doubt about COVID-19’s origination in China. The CPC, according to Kuo, seized on comments by Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Book Reviews

Review of LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P. W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking

Austin Gouldsmith
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.10

“Social media.” It needs no introduction: we are obsessed with it. Facebook vacation albums, glossy Instagram images, live concerts on Snapchat, on-demand YouTube entertainment—this is our new digital reality. Social media has revolutionized our information spaces aimed at connecting the world’s people through our daily experiences. Most of us, however, know that it often fails to truly connect us. Instead, this digital frontier has fallen prey to grabs for virtual influence, brand-building, confrontations, and the viral spread of information—benign and otherwise. Because of its massive reach, social media has even become an effective instrument for nation states, and everyone between, to behave much the same. LikeWar, addressing this sobering reality, is as timely as it is good. Presenting a research-filled warning to the American public, Singer and Brooking present the new normal of our digital lives. Using diverse examples ranging from Taylor Swift to ISIS and Donald Trump to the Arab Spring, LikeWar explains how the internet, and particularly social media, evolved from a creative way of connecting people to a means of attacking them.

Review of Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News by Clint Watts

Sarah Soffer
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.11

Is social media helpful or harmful? Clint Watts explores the role of social media and an interconnected world in enabling and preventing terrorism and propaganda. Watts does not shy away from sharing his personal experiences with the reader, which makes “Messing with the Enemy” accessible to a wide audience from laypeople hoping to understand the effects of Russian troll farms to intelligence and influence operations professionals seeking a summary of past and recent events. Combining professional expertise with a thoroughly researched topic leads to a very readable and informative account of how psychological warfare has evolved in a social media world.

Review of The Conduct of Intelligence in Democracies: Processes, Practices and Cultural by Florina Cristiana Matei and Carolyn Halladay

Joel Wickwire
doi: 10.18278/gsis.5.1.12

In The Conduct of Intelligence in Democracies: Processes, Practices and Cultural, editors Florina Cristiana Matei and Carolyn Halladay fill a gap in intelligence literature, that of a comparative study between international intelligence practices. In their words, they seek “to provide readers with international views on the role and place of (effective) intelligence in a democratic milieu” (xi). There are of course challenges in achieving such an objective when the subject matter they are investigating is by its very nature composed of classified information and secret operations. The authors offer a wide range of case studies from various regions including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

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