Covert action as a foreign policy tool of the U.S.
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This thesis explores the role of secrecy when U.S. decision makers used covert actions as a foreign policy tool to accomplish their foreign policy objectives during the Cold War period. Two hypotheses offer different explanations about the role of secrecy in covert action. ‘External constraint’ hypothesis stipulates that decision makers used covert action in order to evade negative international publicity, to avoid direct confrontation with the Soviet over the regions that U.S. was intervening, and to protect agents and agencies that already infiltrated the target states of U.S. covert action. In contrast, ‘internal constraint’ hypothesis stipulates that U.S. decision makers attempted to outskirt domestic institutional constraints by using covert action. Two case studies – Operation PBSUCCESS in Guatemala from the early Cold War period and Contra War in Nicaragua from the late Cold War period – were conducted to evaluate validity of internal and external hypotheses. The results of case studies seem to indicate that U.S. decision makers used covert action to evade both negative international and domestic publicity.