Author Biography

Dr. Matthew Crosston, Professor of Political Science, is the Miller Chair for Industrial and International Security and Director of the International Security and Intelligence Studies (ISIS) program at Bellevue University. He has authored two well-received books, several book chapters and over twenty peer-reviewed articles in venues like the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Journal of Strategic Security, International Politics, Journal of Military and Strategic Affairs, Comparative Strategy, Journal of Conflict Transformation and Security, Strategic Studies Quarterly, Central Asian Survey, Journal of Global Analysis, and Democracy and Security. His research agenda continues to address counter-terrorism, intelligence analysis, failed democratization, and cyber war/ethics. His works have been translated into Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Spanish, and Uzbek. In 2013 Crosston was named the Outstanding Instructor by the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE). He has a BA from Colgate, MA from the University of London, and PhD from Brown.



Subject Area Keywords

Intelligence analysis, Intelligence studies/education, International security, National security, Security studies


This paper is about how the conceptualization of ‘culture’ in intelligence studies has taken on too powerful a role, one that has become too restrictive in its impact on thinking about other intelligence communities, especially non-Western ones. This restriction brings about unintentional cognitive closure that damages intelligence analysis. The argument leans heavily in many ways on the fine work of Desch and Johnston in the discipline of Security Studies, who cogently brought to light over fifteen years ago how ultra-popular cultural theories were best utilized as supplements to traditional realist approaches, but were not in fact capable of supplanting or replacing realist explanations entirely. The discipline of Intelligence Studies today needs a similar ‘intellectual intervention’ as it has almost unknowingly advanced in the post-Cold War era on the coattails of Security Studies but has largely failed to apply the same corrective measures. This effort may be best accomplished by going back to Snyder in the 1970s who warned that culture should be used as the explanation of last resort for Security Studies.