Political Science Project Paper

Midterm Assignment Details:  Due on 1 August 2015

 

The midterm assignment is not a paper, but a project.

The purpose of this assignment is for you to demonstrate not your analytic ability (for you should be able at this point to do the appropriate thinking) but rather your ability to set up a problem, identify what you need, and how you would solve the problem using a structured method.

 

You are given a list of 7 intelligence questions and you are expected to respond to 4 of them for this project.

Your submission should be in table form and not exceed two pages per intelligence problem. Each table should list the primary intelligence problem (given below). In your table you must break down the primary problem into its components, then listing PIR/EEIs for each component question. You should identify the analytic methods you would recommend using to analyze the information to answer the overall question. Finally you need to explain why those methods are appropriate.

Your submission will be graded using the following rubric:

1) break the intelligence problem into component questions,

2) articulate Priority Intelligence Requirements and Essential Elements of Information,

3) identify intelligence analysis methods that you recommend to address the problems (based on the type of information you identify and the nature of the question),

4) provide a textual explanation of why you chose the methods you did and what you can expect by using the methods,

5) completion of 1-4 above for 4 of the 7 problems listed below, and

6) demonstration that you have read, understood, and used the required readings

NOTE: any submission that does not pursue the purpose of this assignment, structuring an intelligence question for analysis, will be considered off-topic and will receive a zero.
A few important thoughts:

1) No one method can stand alone as an adequate method. It takes looking at the problem from more than one approach to get a meaningful view of the solution to the problem. You should list the methods that you would recommend and in a few words identify what the method would achieve. (You may choose whatever format you think works best to communicate these ideas.) Further, the questions below are broad and general. If you need to make assumptions to help you address each problem please document your assumptions (this is more important than you may at first think).
2) The “Structured Analytic Techniques” book is an excellent starting point, but it is not a comprehensive list of methods. Feel free to draw on any method you are aware of. If you are concerned that I may not recognize your method, please provide a footnote explaining.
3) It is not possible to list all PIRs/EEIs so it is impossible to be complete given the time available for this assignment. However, I will evaluate your selection of component intelligence questions, intelligence requirements, and the centrality of the methods you recommend to addressing the core nature of the problem.
4) Be sure that it is clear which methods address which subproblems.

For example:

Problem: The US has become aware that the Pakistanis have provided missile technology to Yemen. This point is confirmed. However, it is unclear what the Yemenis are intending to do with the technology. What is the outlook for this development?
Subproblems: What technology was transferred? What threats does this pose to the region, and does this change the regional balance of power? What is the likelihood that Yemen will reexport this technology to substate groups or states that pose a threat to US interests?

List associated PIRs/EEIs

 

Then identify what methods you would use to answer the problem and subproblems and explain why these methods are the best and most appropriate to answer the questions(!).

You must select 4 out of the following 7 problems to address for this assignment:

1) A recent wave of terrorism in Egypt is threatening the stability of the central government. What does this mean?
2) Oil prices have spiked and Chinese companies have obtained operations and engineering contracts in multiple Persian Gulf states. What is the likelihood of Chinese intervention in the Persian Gulf to ensure the supply of oil to China?
3) The Brazilians have been working with Chinese engineers to design and field a new satellite system, suspected to be of military significance. What is this new satellite system?
4) The civil war in Sudan is raging and it looks increasingly likely that an even more extremist leader, a known supporter of al-Qaeda, is coming to power. The new regime is both virulently anti-American and expansionist, talking about Somalia, Egypt, and exporting its beliefs. What does this mean for the US?
5) Killings and kidnappings on the US-Mexican border have escalated, spilling over into the US. More than 2 dozen Americans have been kidnapped in California and taken to Mexico in the last year (incidentally this fact is true) and have either been held or executed. Running gun battles between drug cartels have escalated. The drug cartels are using IEDs (in fact this has not yet come to pass–but for the sake of this example we will accept it as fact), automatic weapons, and grenades. The government is unable to control the violence and thousands of Mexican troops and police patrol the border cities. Dozens of people are killed every month in what has become open warfare. What does this mean for US security?
6) The Israelis destroyed a suspected nuclear weapons facility in Syria. Was it really a nuclear weapons facility? What does this mean for non-proliferation efforts.
7) Iranian interference in domestic Iraqi politics and security is on the rise. Iranian bomb components, weapons, propaganda, and personnel are increasingly crossing the boarder into Iraq. What does this mean for the domestic Iraqi security situation.

I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO USE THE UNGRADED DISCUSSION BOARD TO ASK QUESTIONS, SHARE IDEAS, AND WORK COLLABORATIVELY. USE THE REQUIRED TEXTBOOK AND REFLECT BACK ON YOUR PREVIOUS CLASSES (though your submitted work must be your own).

FINAL Assignment Details: Due on 29 August 2015

This assignment is a research paper. This means you will choose a topic that is focused on intelligence (or be intelligence related and you explain how it is important to intelligence), identify your research sources, identify and apply a research method to your paper, and draft a paper that defends your main point/thesis.

Topic:  You must choose a topic from your area of concentration. You are free to choose any topic you are interested in or have wanted to investigate but haven’t been able to address.

ThesisYour paper must have a solid, pointed premise. A solid main point is a conclusion of analysis, based on your research that is reasoned and pointed. You cannot choose a main point, which is obvious or self-evident (terrorism led to the war in Afghanistan or the lack of WMD in Iraq was an intelligence mistake). You must ask a research question, research, and draw a conclusion or answer to the question. State that as a declarative sentence in your introduction. That declarative statement is your premise or hypothesis. You must be specific, not vague or general.

ContentYou should be sure to have a thesis that addresses the topic you are focusing on and that this thesis is CLEAR and UNAMBIGUOUS. If you have any questions about your thesis you should ask them on the open discussion board for the class. It is OK to share your ideas and ask for feedback. Also, if necessary, you can ask me for input (though you are now expected to be able to develop your own theses and know that what you’re developing is a good thesis. Your thesis must be in the first paragraph or section of your paper.

You should also be sure to have section headings, a title page, end notes (or footnotes), list of references, page numbers and all the other elements of a professional paper.
DeliverableYour paper should be 15-20 pages in length, double spaced, Times New Roman 12. You can use graphs and charts and maps, etc., provided they add new information and support your paper.
 SourcesYou should strive for 12+ references. Be sure that your selection of sources gives you balance, that they are credible and reliable and accurate (and note when they may not be).


Assumptions: 
All research papers have assumptions. These bound the problem, exclude difficult variables, provide a firm starting point. While it is not necessary to have a separate section for assumptions, it is necessary that you identify them when you make them. (For instance in an examination of covert action success you may want to make the assumption that the first CA engaged in by CIA was not representative of what occurs later in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and therefore should be excluded from your study.