Collecting Cultural Intelligence

The Tactical Value of Cultural Property

Published in: International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, v. 24, no. 2, 2011, p. 217-238

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2011

by Erik Nemeth

Read More

Access further information on this document at www.tandfonline.com

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

The tightening interrelation of cultural property and international security--cultural security--creates a need for the collection and analysis of specialized intelligence. "Cultural intelligence" enables assessments of the tactical and strategic significance of antiquities, fine art, and cultural heritage sites to national and regional security. This paper defines a framework for the collection of cultural intelligence as a fundamental asset in countering threats to cultural security. Looting of antiquities as a tactic in campaigns of cultural cleansing, trafficking in antiquities as a source of funding for insurgents, and targeting of historic structures and religious monuments in political violence represent distinct threats to regional security. A critical initial step in countering the threats includes marshalling appropriate sources of information. Publications that report on the art market and cultural property globally and players in the antiquities trade offer opportunities as sources of cultural intelligence. Ultimately, the development of tactical and strategic cultural intelligence can reveal trafficking networks and assess risks to cultural heritage sites. As a starting point, this paper indentifies viable sources of cultural intelligence. Conflicts in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) provide examples in retrospect, while volatility in Mali presents an opportunity in the context of an emerging security risk. In conclusion, the paper speculates on the applications of cultural intelligence in regional security.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.