Interesting article by Robert Dover (2007) on how SIS and co help out the British arms trade. There are some nice little insights from (anonymous) interviews, for instance:
The success of an Ambassador’s period of tenure is partly judged upon whether they have assisted in securing a significant quantity of export trade, including arms sales, for UK companies (interview 24IS).
The author’s conclusions:
This research has shown intelligence to be used in support of British-based private commercial businesses, and occasionally in providing intelligence on the negotiating positions of rival manufacturers. This in itself raises some important questions about the role of the state in the private sphere, and particularly with reference to using sensitive assets that imply that this industry has a core governmental function. The elite interviews conducted with government officials revealed an interesting trend of eliding the interests of the state with the commercial success of a set of industrial manufacturers. That the elision of interests has been allowed to develop is no surprise; what is more surprising is that there is little critical engagement among officials, politicians and the intelligence agencies on the issue of their very commercial role, or of how this work fits into ‘New’ Labour’s foreign policy with its ‘ethical dimension’
Dover, R. (2007). For queen and company: The role of intelligence in the UK’s arms trade. Political Studies, 55(4):683-708.