Accueil > In the shadows of war and politics: a history of covert actions (united states, 1945-2014)

DHIS 1970A - In the Shadows of War and Politics: A History of Covert Actions (United States, 1945-2014)

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

A self-proclaimed democracy, committed by treaties and values to international organizations and to the principle of sovereignty, the United States cannot bluntly admit the organization of covert actions; but as a world power, with interests spread around the globe, the United States is likely to resolve to alternative ways to guarantee their security, in the name of emergency and national security. To go beyond this paradox, this course will investigate the history of the covert actions carried out by the American government of the second part of the twentieth century. We will try and understand their function in foreign policy and their status within the state apparatus. We will analyze them in their international, institutional, and political contexts, while at the same giving special attention to the operational, practical, day-to-day aspects. What is a covert action? Why and how is it decided? Who are the people and agencies in charge? What are the particular means and methods available to them? How efficient are they and what are their limits? Is it possible to exercise some kind of effective control? Such questions – and others – will be addressed through a historical investigation of the covert side of American foreign policy from the end of the Second World War to the “War on Terror”.


RIOS-BORDES, Alexandre (Attaché temporaire d'enseignement et de recherche)

Course validation

The students will primarily be expected to give two collective presentations along the semester, one “weekly briefing” and one “special briefing”. The individual grade will also include class participation, as well as a very short final exam.

Additional required reading

  • For more references, see the course syllabus.
  • For more references, see the course syllabus.