Strategic Covert Actions
The role of strategic covert action is a very sensitive yet powerful tool which can be used to influence an actor in either the political, military, diplomatic, or economic arena in a way that would provide plausible deniability for the actor conducing the action. Conflicts that may exist when an agency is in charge of conducing both covert action and intelligence collection can be foreseen in that an agency that collects intelligence to feed the strategic decision making process and also conduct covert action may result in a major decision being made without the approval of a head of state that could have severe impacts to that state’s foreign policy, or even something as severe as a country’s image. This can be seen in with the failure of the Bay of Pigs of invasion which not only failed embarrassingly for the United states but gave it a reputation of being behind major plots which not only gives reason for states not to be friendly to the United States, but also resulting in popular finger pointing whenever a world event comes around. For example after the rise of ISIS many communities in Jordan and Lebanon produced a conspiracy that the United States was behind the rise of the terrorist group. While these claims are obviously ridiculous it speaks volumes of the United States’ reputation that it has acquired after the Cold War.
Covert action is however one of the most useful tools of state craft as well as the organization in charge of the activity is well honed and being used to accomplish the state’s goals with the oversight of proper authorities. This advantage can be seen when “In 1945 the American Office of Strategic Service (OSS) identification of Japanese ‘peace feelers’ assisted its analysis that war against Japan could be terminated by negotiation.” (Scott, 169) There is also the covet nature that makes benefits of covert action potentially intangible and unknown as every revolution that seemed to support a state’s interest could be suspected of being the victim of covert action but with the advent of plausible deniability it could further shelter a state from negative effects.