Sooner is better : covert action to prevent realignment
Author(s)Nutt, Cullen Gifford.
Covert action to prevent realignment
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
Barry R. Posen.
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Why do states intervene covertly in some places and not others? This is a pressing question for theorists and policymakers because covert action is widespread, costly, and consequential. I argue that states wield it-whether by supporting political parties, arming dissidents, sponsoring coups, or assassinating leaders-when they fear that a target is at risk of shifting its alignment toward the state that the intervener considers most threatening. Covert action is a rational response to the threat of realignment. Interveners correctly recognize a window of opportunity: Owing to its circumscribed nature, covert action is more likely to be effective before realignment than after. This means that acting sooner is better. I test this argument in case studies of covert action decision-making by the United States in Indonesia, Iraq, and Portugal. I then conduct a test of the theory's power in a medium-N analysis of 97 cases of serious consideration of such action by the United States during the Cold War. Interveners, I suggest, do not employ covert action as a result of bias on the part of intelligence agencies. Nor do they use it to add to their power. Rather, states act covertly when they fear international realignment.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Political Science, 2019Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 301-308).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology