Douglas Porch


Porch, Douglas.

1. "French Intelligence Culture: A Historical and Political Perspective." Intelligence and National Security 10, no. 3 (Jul. 1995): 486-511.

The "generic problems which afflict all intelligence services have been accentuated in France for at least five reasons:" One, French intelligence has historically served a national policy whose ambitions outreached national power. Two, France has a history of poor state-intelligence relations. Three, French foreign intelligence is exclusively dominated by the military. Four, the French Resistance left "a legacy of a strong 'action' culture." And, five, "French intelligence departs from the 'Anglo-Saxon' norm because domestic or counter-intelligence is more highly valued than external intelligence within the French political culture." The author concludes that the trials of the post-Cold War world will be "particularly acute for the French services, especially the DGSE."

2. The French Secret Services: From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1995.

West, WIR 14.5, finds"disappointingly little" here that is new. Porch "has undertaken very little original research and relies heavily on secondary sources. Doubtless this approach explains the occasional [factual] lapses." In addition, the author's effort "to include as much as possible has led to a lack of discrimination.... Porch's contribution is to have produced a compendium of much, though not all, of what already has been written about the French security and intelligence agencies."

A different view comes from Warren, Surveillant 4.4/5: "This is the definitive history of the French intelligence system.... Porch intermingles historical and archival research with colorful anecdotes that make this book pleasurable as well as informative." A reviewer in VQR 72.1, finds "Porch's debunking of Philippe Thyraud de Vosjoli, the Peter Wright/James Jesus Angleton of the SDECE," particularly interesting.

Campbell, AIJ 16.2/3, notes that the book covers political intelligence, counterintelligence, and military intelligence, and gives it a "highly recommended" rating. Hitchcock, I&NS 12.4, calls Porch's work "an excellent, well-constructed narrative with a clear argument, based on a thorough knowledge of the available public record.... It focuses less on the craft and more on the political uses and abuses of intelligence in France." In the end, however, Porch "presents little new evidence."


Porch, Douglas. "French Intelligence and the Fall of France, 1930-40." Intelligence and National Security 4, no. 1 (Jan. 1989): 28-58.

Porch swims against the received tide of praise for French intelligence in the prewar years. He states: "Despite the praise lavished on the pre-war French intelligence, its organization and lack of influence was almost bound to condemn it to incoherence in the collection of information, and confusion in assessing the threat to France."

[WWII/Eur/Fr/Gen; France/Interwar][c]

Porch, Douglas. "The Myth of the French Resistance." MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History 10, no. 2 (Winter 1998): 99-107.

In France, "the belief that popular resistance to the German occupation was general, effective, and necessary became accepted as an article of faith.... In fact, the myth of the military effectiveness of the French Resistance was precisely that -- a myth!... In the end, the Resistance served as a political movement for preparing the assumption of power by Charles de Gaulle."


Porch, Douglas. "Taming a Dysfunctional Beast -- Reform in Colombia's Departamento Administrativo de Securidad." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 22, no. 3 (Fall 2009): 421-451.

The DAS "remains a deeply dysfunctional organization, without a clear mission.... [T]he reforms carried out by the two previous directors, while ambitious, have not proven to be transformational."


Porch, Douglas. "Why Did France Fall?" MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History 2, no. 3 (Spring 1990): 30-41.

Intelligence is not the focus of this article. However, the author notes that "Gamelin's detractors, among them French intelligence officer Paul Paillole [see above], have accused the general of ignoring intelligence reports predicting a German thrust through the Ardennes. However, a close examination of the evidence suggests that the Deuxième Bureau ... did not speak with a clear voice on German intentions."


Porch, Douglas, and James J. Wirtz. "Surprise and Intelligence Failure." Strategic Insights 1, no. 7 (Sep. 2002). []

"[F]or reasons those who study intelligence failure will find familiar, 9/11 fits very much into the norm of surprise caused by a breakdown of intelligence warning."


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