The Heyday of Britain’s Cold War Think Tank: Brian Crozier and the Institute for the Study of Conflict, 1970–79

  • Jeffrey H. Michaels
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series book series (PMSTH)


In the United Kingdom, the think-tank community devoted to foreign and security policy issues has for decades been dominated by Chatham House, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). However, beginning in the 1970s, this trio nearly became a foursome due to the emergence of the Institute for the Study of Conflict (ISC), headed by the highly controversial Cold War activist Brian Crozier. Officially, the ISC was created to conduct unbiased research into the “social, economic, political and military causes and manifestations of unrest and conflict throughout the world”.1 Unofficially, the Institute’s research and activities were very much shaped by its politically active director. Crozier admitted in his autobiography that “Throughout my period as Director, the ISC was involved in exposing the fallacies of détente and warning the West of the dangers inherent in a policy of illusion.”2 Given Crozier’s anti-Soviet and anti-détente views, as well as his reputation as a frontman for the CIA, the ISC as a whole became a target of the Left. For instance, in their book The “Terrorism” Industry, Edward Herman and Gerry O’Sullivan note that the ISC “provides an especially well-documented case study of the use of a purportedly ‘independent’ institute as a front for propaganda operations of a hidden intelligence agency and corporate sponsors”.3


Civil Servant Free Agent International Terrorism Intelligence Service Corporate Sponsor 
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  1. 1.
    Memorandum of Association cited in Brian Crozier, ‘The Study of Conflict’, Conflict Studies 7 (October 1970), p. 2.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brian Crozier, Free Agent: The Unseen War 1941–1991 (London: Harper Collins, 1993), p. 96.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Edward Herman and Gerry O’Sullivan, The Terrorism Industry: The Experts and Institutions That Shape Our View of Terror (New York: Pantheon, 1990), p. 108.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See for instance: Diana Stone, Capturing the Political Imagination: Think Tanks and the Policy Process (London: Frank Cass, 1996);Google Scholar
  5. Andrew Denham and Mark Garnett, “The Nature and Impact of Think Tanks in Contemporary Britain”, in Michael David Kandiah and Anthony Seldon (eds), Ideas and Think Tanks in Contemporary Britain, Volume 1 (London, Frank Cass, 1996), pp. 43–61.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Richard Sim, “Research Note: Institute for the Study of Conflict”, Terrorism: An International Journal 1 (1978), p. 214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 36.
    G.R. Urban, Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher: An Insider’s View (London: I.B. Tauris, 1996), p. 2Google Scholar
  8. 37.
    Brian Crozier (ed.), Annual of Power and Conflict 1971: A Survey of Political Violence and International Influence (London: Eastern Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  9. 43.
    Cited in Giles Scott-Smith, “Interdoc and West European Psychological Warfare: The American Connection”, Intelligence and National Security 26 (2001), p. 376.Google Scholar
  10. For additional information on Crozier’s links with Interdoc, see Giles Scott-Smith, Western Anti-Communism and the Interdoc Network: Cold War Internationale (Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Jeffrey H. Michaels 2014

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  • Jeffrey H. Michaels

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