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Opinion
James Stavridis

The Western Allies Need More Eyes on the World

The “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance should expand, starting with Israel and Japan. 

Eye in the sky.

Eye in the sky.

Photographer: Alexander Gerst/ESA via Getty Images

Every challenge the U.S. faces today — the rise of China, a resurgent Russia, the North Korean nuclear weapons program, Iranian adventurism throughout the Middle East, cyberthreats and many more — all have one thing in common: the need for high-grade, accurate intelligence. And as any intelligence expert will tell you, an accurate picture is not a sweeping oil painting, it is a mosaic. You build up that picture one small stone at a time until you can step back from what you have developed and have a full view of actionable intelligence. To do this in the fastest possible time, you need as many allies, partners and friends contributing stones as possible. No individual nation is as smart as all working together: Intelligence-sharing is the key to creating true security.

Today one of the most effective collaborations globally is the so-called Five Eyes agreement to fully share intelligence between the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The founding agreements were initiated in the immediate post-World War II period. Again and again, Five Eyes has proven its worth, saving countless lives and helping win the Cold War. It maintained secrets so well that its very existence wasn’t known by the public until the mid-2000s.