Wippl’s Insights on Lawless’ Journey in Intelligence and Diplomacy

Professor Wippl

Joseph Wippl, Professor of the Practice of International Relations at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, known for his distinguished 30-year career with the CIA, recently shared his insights on Richard Philip Lawless’ book, “Hunting Nukes: A Fifty Year Pursuit of Atomic Bomb Builders and Mischief Makers.” In Wippl’s words, Lawless’ autobiography provides “a reflection of how intelligence and diplomacy should work to influence policy.”

Wippl emphasizes the book’s focus on the collaboration between intelligence and diplomacy to influence policy, stressing the importance of challenging decision makers rather than making their choices easier. He lauds Lawless for his exceptional skills in meeting people, developing sources, and gaining their trust—a combination of qualities that set him apart in the intelligence community.

The review explores Lawless’ successful efforts in preventing South Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, shedding light on the delicate interplay between intelligence, diplomacy, and policy. Wippl underscores the significance of understanding the power dynamics within a country and the crucial role of comprehensive intelligence in shaping favorable outcomes for both the United States and its allies.

Lawless’ later exploits in Austria and Japan, unraveling the negligence in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspection regime and countering Soviet intelligence activities, further showcase his impact on global security. Wippl credits Lawless with substantial achievements, earning him two Intelligence Medals of Merit and reshaping the IAEA’s mission.

The review concludes by acknowledging Lawless’ storytelling prowess and the book’s broader narrative, providing readers with valuable insights into the intricate workings of intelligence and diplomacy in pursuit of national interests.

In Wippl’s words, Lawless’ narrative serves the core intention of “chasing nukes,” offering readers a compelling journey into the world of intelligence and diplomacy and their crucial roles in shaping global policies.

Wippl’s review can be read in full here.

Joseph Wippl is a former CIA officer. He spent a 30-year career as an operations officer in the National Clandestine Service (NCS). On assignments in CIA headquarters, he served as the Deputy Chief of Human Resources, as the Senior NCS representative to the Aldrich Ames Damage Assessment Team, as Chief of Europe Division, and as the CIA’s Director of Congressional Affairs. Prior to his arrival at Boston University, he occupied the Richard Helms Chair for Intelligence Collection in the NCS training program. Wippl has taught at BU since 2006, and speaks and writes widely on issues regarding intelligence. Read more about him on his Pardee School faculty profile