“What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is FOREKNOWLEDGE.” – Sun Tzu, ‘The Art of War, Chapter 13″
British National Intelligence Effort
Today we define Strategic National Intelligence as the collection, analysis, processing, and dissemination of information aimed primarily to support the national command authorities. In the period 1793 – 1815, secret intelligence of this nature would have been for consumption by the Prime Minister, secretary of state for the Foreign Office, secretary of state for the Home Office, secretary of state for War and the Colonies, the first lord of the Admiralty, and the King. (Maffeo, 2000)
As the end of the 18th century approached, Britain faced serious problems. At home, times were hard, harvests failed due to poor weather and, as a result, food costs rose, sometimes resulting in food riots. The living and working conditions of the lower classes showed little or no improvement, due to wartime inflation, even as a greater proportion of the nation’s wealth was concentrated in the hands of large merchants, bankers and the gentry. Too often, political corruption determined who went to parliament; and political patronage, rather than ability or merit, determined most civil and military appointments.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, the Society of United Irishmen, spurred on by the example of the American Revolution, and the writings of the likes of Thomas Paine, increasingly challenged British government authority in Ireland. Continue reading