Secrecy and International Relations

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49 Scopus citations


This article analyzes the question of information control and how it influences the conduct and the study of international relations. Three theories are advanced as possible explanations for secrecy: The first, the External Threat explanation, suggests that government secrecy is designed to protect sensitive information from external enemies. The second explanation, the Bureaucratic Politics explanation, views secrecy as a relatively unsystematic process that results from the (collectively) irrational features in any government bureaucracy. The third explanation, the Internal Threat approach, argues that government officials use secrecy to mislead the populations of their own countries. These three explanations are applied to a case study of US information policy with regard to the Congo Crisis of 1960-1. The article concludes that the Congo case tends to support the Internal Threat explanation of secrecy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-228
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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