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28 October 2007

False prophets abound

Our good friend Monsieur Tanji over at Haft of the Spear, has apparently had recent reason to bemoan the sad state of intelligence studies academia – and specifically, the increasing number of frauds that attempt to pass themselves off as instructors in a burgeoning marketplace. We take his points well, and in our own experiences have regrettably seen many parallels.

We have written before about such false prophets, having known more than our share over the past decade. One notable civilian institution even employed such a worthless and contemptible individual for several academic years before his fraud was uncovered – and he removed back to his country of (allied) origin. The damage done by that incident still lingers with the wronged institution.

Unfortunately, we fear such cases will only continue to surface as the new academic discipline expands. The tension between the academy and the intelligence community over the past several decades has led to a distinct disconnect between the qualifications recognized within the house of deed versus those recognized by the schoolhouse. This is a regrettable state of affairs indeed, and one in which the academy is not without substantial blame. In fact, we recently spoke with one of the leading members of the professoriate in a new program established this year, who insisted that his new curriculum and related instructional design was entirely revolutionary and far superior to any existing program. Yet this individual refused to publish any details for peer review and commentary in the common community literature, claiming that even longstanding publications such as Studies “didn’t count” for his purposes as they were not mainstream academic volumes. No amount of discussion could dissuade him otherwise, to our great sorrow – and no doubt, to the detriment of his students, who will now suffer instruction which has never been tested by those in the intelligence community.

Unfortunately, we see this disconnect more and more frequently, however, and in a variety of other contexts. In part it comes from the ignorance of many which have managed to find themselves positions in the intelligence studies academy, despite in some cases unconscionably short terms of actual service in the real world of the intelligence practitioner. It is also driven by a kind of arrogance displayed by many in the intelligence studies academy, which claim to forge a new path but refuse to listen to feedback of those who walk the harder roads on a daily basis.

On some days, we despair of ever correcting this disconnect. For despite a number of efforts to reach out and bridge that gap, it seems there are those in the academy which are insistent on hurtling headlong into an irrelevance of their own making – reigning in a hell of their own design, in which their accomplishments may be lauded without fear of the bruising encounters with harsh realities of the practice of the profession.

We do not wish to see a bifurcation of intelligence education, between those institutions which retain connectivity to the community and those which would ignore the real world. But we fear it is occurring, and will proliferate unchecked unless the academy is willing to face the same test of the Smoking Mirror that those in the real community must endure on a daily basis.

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