The International Studies Public Forum, Center for Global Peace & Conflict Studies, and UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality present

"Religious Intelligence"
with Ron E. Hassner, Assistant Professor, Political Science, UC Berkeley

Thursday, May 17, 2012
5:00-6:30 p.m.
Social Science Plaza A, Room 1100

About the talk:
Sacred rituals and symbols can act as force multipliers that motivate and constrain the effectiveness of actors. Religious intelligence involves an assessment of how these rituals and symbols affect combat operations. The fourfold challenge faced by the religious intelligence analysts is to ascertain how prominent a role religion will play in a given conflict, what the relevant sacred phenomena are, how salient they are for the specific religious communities present, and how they will affect a given conflict. Case studies highlight three issue areas open to religious intelligence collection and analysis, and exhibit variation in the ability of intelligence analysts to correctly assess those religious factors. Egyptian and Israeli decision making prior to the 1973 Arab-Israeli War illustrates how information about sacred time can influence war initiation. The diverging outcomes of two counterinsurgency operations at the same sacred site, "Operation Blue Star: (1984) and "Operation Black Thunder" (1988), demonstrate the utility of intelligence about the parameters of sacred space. A final case study explores the U.S. failure to grasp the importance of religious authority in the Iranian Revolution. Hassner will conclude by considering the actors best suited for gathering and processing religious intelligence. Religious intelligence requires interdisciplinary teams that combine expertise in religion, area studies, and military operations.

About the speaker:
Ron E. Hassner is a graduate of Stanford University with degrees in political science and religious studies. His research revolves around symbolic and emotive aspects of international security with particular attention to religious violence, Middle Eastern politics and territorial disputes. His publications have focused on the role of perceptions in entrenching international disputes, the causes and characteristics of conflicts over sacred places, the characteristics of political-religious leadership and political-religious mobilization and the role of national symbols in conflict.

For further information, please contact Sandy Cushman, or 949-824-3344.

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