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The Handbook of Asian Intelligence Cultures

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As Asia increases in economic and geopolitical significance, it is necessary to better understand the regions intelligence cultures. The Handbook of Asian Intelligence Cultures explores the historical and contemporary influences that have shaped Asian intelligence cultures as well as the impact intelligence service have had on domestic and foreign affairs. In examining thirty Asian countries, it considers the roles, practices, norms and oversight of Asias intelligence services, including the ends to which intelligence tools are applied. The book argues that there is no archetype of Asian intelligence culture due to the diversity of history, government type and society found in Asia. Rather, it demonstrates how Asian nations histories, cultures and governments play vital roles in intelligence cultures. This book is a valuable study for scholars of intelligence and security services in Asia, shedding light on understudied countries and identifying opportunities for future scholarship.

Ryan Shaffer is a historian with expertise on political violence and security. He has a PhD in history and has written for international magazines, including Readers Digest and Homeland Security Today, and his academic research has appeared in journals, such as Intelligence and National Security and the Journal of Intelligence History. His books include African Intelligence Services: Early Postcolonial and Contemporary Challenges and The Handbook of African Intelligence Cultures.


Introduction - Ryan Shaffer

Chapter 1: Afghanistan: The Graveyard of Intelligence Empires- Owen Sirrs

Chapter 2: Bangladesh: Intelligence Culture and Reform Priorities - ASM Ali Ashraf

Chapter 3: Bhutan: An Intelligence Culture amidst Regional Geopolitics - Praveen Kumar

Chapter 4: Brunei: A Royal Intelligence Culture - Ryan Shaffer

Chapter 5: Cambodia: Intelligence Mission—Regime Security - Paul Chambers

Chapter 6: China: The Fearful Intelligence Culture - Matthew Brazil

Chapter 7: India: Managing Challenges in an Evolving Security Environment - Sameer Patil and Arun Vishwanathan

Chapter 8: Indonesia: Intelligence Culture in Turbulent Times - Mark Briskey

Chapter 9: Japan: The Rise, Fall and Reinvention of the Intelligence Community - Richard J. Samuels

Chapter 10: Kazakhstan: A Circular Revolution in Intelligence Culture - Elizabeth Van Wie Davis

Chapter 11: Kyrgyzstan: Seeking Stability in a Complex Region - Réjeanne Lacroix

Chapter 12: Laos: Intelligence Culture with Internal Threats and External Actors - Hans Lipp

Chapter 13: Malaysia: Between Untenable Intelligence Tradition and Unrealized Reform - Scott Edwards

Chapter 14: Maldives: Connections Between Intelligence Culture and Oversight - Abdulla Phairoosch

Chapter 15: Mongolia: Democratization and Intelligence - Jargalsaikhan Mendee, Adiya Tuvshintugs and Julian Dierkes

Chapter 16: Myanmar: Security through Surveillance - Prem Mahadevan

Chapter 17: Nepal: A Developing Intelligence Culture - Bishnu Raj Upreti

Chapter 18: North Korea: An Agile and Adaptable National Intelligence System - Joseph Fitsanakis

Chapter 19: Pakistan: The Multidimensional Culture of the Inter-Services Intelligence - Nasir Mehmood

Chapter 20: The Philippines: Knowing, Hurting and Intelligence Culture - Amador IV Peleo

Chapter 21: Singapore: Developing Intelligence Power from Third World to First - Alexander Nicholas Shaw

Chapter 22: South Korea: The Outsize Influence of the National Intelligence Service - Charlie Lizza

Chapter 23: Sri Lanka: The Evolution of an Offensive Intelligence Culture - Rohan Gunaratna and Bodhana Perera

Chapter 24: Taiwan: An Intelligence Community in Constant Transformation - Hon-min Yau

Chapter 25: Tajikistan: Post-Soviet Intelligence Culture in a Fractured State - Michael Yerushalmi

Chapter 26: Thailand: From Cold War Intelligence to Cyber Surveillance - Michael Landon-Murray and Dao Henry

Chapter 27: Timor-Leste: An Intelligence Culture Developing and Overcoming Politicization - Agnes E. Venema

Chapter 28: Turkmenistan: Analysis of an Enigmatic Intelligence Culture - Réjeanne Lacroix

Chapter 29: Uzbekistan: Political Economy of the Intelligence Services - Evrim Gormus

Chapter 30: Vietnam: Intelligence-Led Policing Culture at the Borderland - Hai Thanh Luong

About the Authors


Ryan Shaffer has put together a comprehensive collection of chapters that cover intelligence services in Central, East, South and Southeast Asia. If Asia is now at the forefront of world events, intelligence is the key to whether the United States can lead another strong alliance against another tyrant.
— Leon E. Panetta, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

As Asian countries assume ever greater salience in global affairs, one issue that is little understood is their intelligence capabilities and cultures. This ground-breaking publication makes good this deficit with detailed analyses covering all Asian countries large and small. I intend to keep my copy close to hand.
— Nigel Inkster, former director of operations and intelligence at the U.K.’s Secret Intelligence Service

“... comprehensive book” provides “cases in which the study of the intelligence agencies can give insights into broader political themes” and “some shafts of light on the intelligence cultures in less powerful countries.”
— Intelligence and National Security

These examples are indicative of what The Handbook of Asian Intelligence Cultures has to offer. The entries are well written and documented, comprising a very worthwhile contribution to the intelligence literature.
— Studies In Intelligence

… useful to academics and practitioners. Researchers, calling for more contributions from non-western perspectives, will welcome these edited volumes as springboards for deeper dives into the intelligence cultures of individual nations, or to develop their own comparative assessments. Governments and intelligence analysts, too, will find the volumes valuable.
— International Affairs

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