KIM OR MAJOR NORTH?

Created: 6/1/1958

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

IN

INTELLIGENCE

A collection ol articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol Intelligence.

All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are ihose of

ihe authors. They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Iniclligcncc Agency or any other US Government entity, pasi or present. Nothing in ihe contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsemeni ofan snide's factual statements and interpretations.

This and the following articleadical solution to the problem of aeintulattngofficers abroad from the cultures they are sent to

KIM OR MAJOR NORTH?Tdwell

It Is primarily through overseas intelligence activities that official Washington reaches out to seek an understanding at other countries and tries to meet their people on their home ground in their own cultural environment. The intelligence community is not only responsible for knowing what the people at other cultures think, but for knowing how they think and why, and for doing something about it when It Is in the US national Interest to influence their tlunking and actions.this responsibility requires overseas personnel who have analytic, reporting, or operational ability, language skills, and the ability to live with people whose culture is radically different from tbe American culture.

The need for all but one of these skills Is well recognized, and with much effort we are making progress toward acquiring them The requirement for ability to liveoreign culture, however. Is not so widely understood, and we have made little progress toward acquiring It,

The American culture Is In some respects an Bectrohur and Old Granddad culture. We are most at ease when surrounded with the familiar and convenient amenities ofesult, when Americans go overseas they usually try to take the material aspects of their culture with them wherever they go. In many cases theyuccessful that their two-year tour" abroad "te spent'shopping at the local supermarket, watching the latest Holly- '. wood product, and reading Mickey SpCQane; and they come Into contact with the local population only as they must make use of servants, cab drivers, and waiters from among the aUvea.-

f i i ' iI'HWii i -

SI

or Mo/or North?

In another respect the American culture could beood Old Joe culture. We want to be open and friendly. If we meet people who do not understand or respond to thiswe tend to avoid them and seek associates who do. The path of least resistance abroad is to associate only with other people who are trying to be Ocod Joes, and by and large these will be other Americans. This natural gravitation toward our own kind reinforces tbe tendency to form Isolated colonies and makes it doubly bard for us to meet, know and understand foreigners.

For all the hue and cry about the breaking up of homes and neglect of children the American culture Is one oriented toward family life. The population statistics reveal at least one result of this preoccupation with family. Most American men in the twenty or thirty most active years of their lives are centering their energies on home-making and often arearge portion of their time to household chores and child-raising. This speaks well for tbe vitality of the Americanseople, but It leaves little time and no Incentive for learning to live In an alien culture.

We haveot recently about the drive for conformity dominating American culture. There are lots of good reasons why this tendency should exist; after all, we are sUUmany varied elements Into our race and culture. But this tendency can lead us to neglect and even reject anyof people who do not conform to our way of Ufa

In addition to these natural cultural barriers, we in CIA haveumber of artificial obstacles which make it difficultan to live inside another culture even If he should overcome the Datura] barriers anderious effort In that direction. One could say that these obstaclesesult of the headquarters orientation of our organization and its personnel policies. We discourage association with aliens and practically prohibit marriage to them We requireto American moral standards, social* mores, and eon-ventio nail ties of behavior In those who hold or seek keyin Washington. Tbe practice of rotation to headquarters and the greater opportunitiesashington career combine to enforce these standards and conven ticms upon overseasas well. These policies prevent oar developing men who

- -

Kim or Major North?

liveoreign culture. Worse, they drive away

who do want to liveoreign culture and attract those primarily concerned with success In the headquarters milieu.

All of these obstacles, natural or of our own mating, create serious operational problems for us. It Is natural for anorganization to depend heavily on foreigners In Its work, but our situation forces American intelligence to depend on foreigners much more and at an earlier point In tbe process than Is desirable. It forces us to use those foreigners who are best educated and most westernized to do our own Job; and these people are poor points of entryulture, beingat least partially withdrawn from it Furthermore, our relative unfamiilarity with foreign cultures makes it hard for us torue reading of the people we are so using. It Is hard for us to Judge their reliability and motives, and hard for us to guide them in their operations, because we know so little about the context in which they must operate. In some cases we even use foreigners against third countries. This device may have virtues, but It means that we are trying to see through two cultural barriers Instead of one.

The Communists do not have the difficulties in crossingbarriers that we do. Through their emphasis onof national, racial, and cultural differencesinternational cause, the Soviets have at their disposaland trained Communists who are at home notWest European cultures but In the Burmese, or Javanese,and can bring the Soviet Influence to bear on greatof backward and unwesternized people throughoutThese Communists are our strongestare the people that we must beat, and we cannotfrom the desks of an embassy office or a '

It Is not an easy Job to find people with the brains and personal skill necessary to do an Intelligence Job inside anulture who will'make the' effort and endure the discomfortInvolved Even in the comfortable and Insulated communities" abroad through Much we now operate, Americans and their families must goreat deal of trouble and suffer illness and other discomfort to workWhat can we do to getintelligence officers to dig deeper into the world abroad? '

Kim or Majai North?

For one thing, the hard core of the overseas service might consist of men unburdened with familyt Is true thatoman Is wining to make tho effort she canreat helpan In getting to know people and aspects of foreignthat he might not get to know on his own. particularly In those western cultures where women are relativelyVery few American women abroad, however, have an ambition to serve in this way. Families can thereforewithout detriment only those overseas officers who have no real need to get to know the country they live In Intimately, or those few whose wives are found to have the skill andnecessary to make the same sort of movement across the cultural barrier that we want their husbands to make. These wives should be subject to the same recruitment and training process as their husbands. The active nucleus of an overseas station should be made up of bachelors or menosition to act like bachelors, having the freedom to move deep Into the local culture and to spend most of their time in contact with the local people.

For another thing, we might encourage the development of career patterns oriented primarilyarticular foreign area or culture. Overseas officers could be selected fromwhose ambition Is not toivision or office chief, but to enjoy success, power, and prestige in the area or culture selected for them. They should be encouraged to "goevoting their energies tolace for themselves in this culture, not burying themselves In the routine of the local Arnerican business or diplomatic community. Problems of cover would be complicated, but these problems would not be unsoluble, and the gain would be worth the extra effort.

The activities of these overseas officers should be evaluated upon their effectiveness, which will In large measureunction of the position they carve for themselves tn the local milieu, and they should not be expected to conform tosocial rtandards andhey should, it Is true, be expected to malntafn ah objectivity of view In spite of their prolonged adoption of another culture,an who bridges two cultures is more likely to be objective than one who has never got outside the American way. The danger that an officer so thoroughly assimilated may develop greater sympathy and loyalty toward bis adopted society than his native country

Kim or Major North?

can be forestalled by periods of leave in the United Slates and

a system of rewards and incentives, and ta'cxtrerrSrcfscs

be disposed of by modern security check techniques.

What system of rewards and Incentives would attractofficers to surrender for long periods their status and aspirations In American society in exchange for the dangers and discomforts of an unfamiliar one? The standard incentive is money; yet money is for spending, and spending abroad leads to the conspicuous consumption which is one of an American's greatest obstacles to crossing the cultural barrier. TheIntelligence officer should nave access to good medical service, but no other material support which would tend to differentiate and separate him from the people with whom he must live.

The problem could be met In part by providing Ihe major monetary reward in the formonus to be collectedixed period of satisfactory service. Tbe amount of the bonus might be raised considerably for each additional fixed period of satisfactory service. This would prevent the development of conspicuous consumption, but would hold an ever larger carrot before the man's nose.

Another Incentive could be provided in the formadical change of pace. Most people can endure hardship much better if they know that at some point they will be relieved of It These overseas officers could be rewardedear'swith pay in tbe United States for say every five years spent in Aden or Meshed; and this year would at the same time serve 'to prevent their becoming too un-Americanlzed at heart

The best way to attract people with drive, however, isprestige and recognition for them. At home thisIn the profession of Intelligence has to be confinedut Intelligence officers who achieve successculture have by virtue of their very duties acquired -and recognition inside the culture they haveThisf prestige) abroad 'could be augmented byta various ways tailored to each individualany'would rather have fame and power among the Sikhsin Foggy Bottom.

Aside from the concrete tatelugence yield from betterpenetration, American prestige and influence In general

Kim or Major North?

rise drastically in many parts of the world if inside each Important culture we had well-known Americans who, although obviously foreign, conformed to and participated In tbeand practices of that culture.

Itard Job to takeompletely new way of life, but intelligence personnel hare to undertakeard Job; they can do whatever Is necessary to accomplish this too. life In any culture isuestion of learning the appropriate techniques. The techniques of staying all re and healthyeolithic culture are probably no more complicated than the techniques we use every day; they are only different

Probably the key element in this problem, however, is the image of what we want to be that we carry in our minds. Being Americans, we carry first of all the image of the successful American. It may have many forms, but they are allforms. Next, being in the profession of intelligence, we nave an Image of what an American intelligence officer should be. This Is an image not yet fully matured, because we are still internes at the profession The chances are that at the present stage of development this image is closer to thatsuperboy of fiction. Major North, than It Is to Kipling's Kim. Let us be careful that as we develop this Image we make It thatrave and energetic man who can move freely hi non-American society. Let us not make It the Image of an expatriate bureaucrat

Original document.

Comment about this article or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA