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Shadow Warfare: The History of America's Undeclared Wars [NOOK Book]


Contrary to its contemporary image, deniable covert operations are not something new. Such activities have been ordered by every president and every administration since the Second World War. In many instances covert operations have relied on surrogates, with American personnel involved only at a distance, insulated by layers of deniability.

Shadow Warfare traces the evolution of these covert operations, detailing the tactics and tools used ...
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Shadow Warfare: The History of America's Undeclared Wars

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Contrary to its contemporary image, deniable covert operations are not something new. Such activities have been ordered by every president and every administration since the Second World War. In many instances covert operations have relied on surrogates, with American personnel involved only at a distance, insulated by layers of deniability.

Shadow Warfare traces the evolution of these covert operations, detailing the tactics and tools used from the Truman era through those of the contemporary Obama Administrations. It also explores the personalities and careers of many of the most noted shadow warriors of the past sixty years, tracing the decade-long relationship between the CIA and the military.

Shadow Warfare presents a balanced, non-polemic exploration of American secret warfare, detailing its patterns, consequences and collateral damage and presenting its successes as well as failures. Shadow Wars explores why every president from Franklin Roosevelt on, felt compelled to turn to secret, deniable military action. It also delves into the political dynamic of the president’s relationship with Congress and the fact that despite decades of combat, the U.S. Congress has chosen not to exercise its responsibility to declare a single state of war - even for extended and highly visible combat.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hancock and Wexler (co-authors of The Awful Grace of God) present a comprehensive, well-researched, and up-to-date analysis of U.S. shadow warfare: the covert and clandestine operations that began with the Cold War and extend into the current War on Terror. Covert warfare’s objective is “to obtain results without visible American military involvement in the actual fighting.” Its legality has been disputed, but it has been authorized by “a succession of presidents over some seven decades.” The Communist conquest of China was countered by involvement with Nationalist exile forces in Burma; by two decades of covert operations in Tibet; and by a final throwdown in Indochina—all unsuccessful. Long-term covert warfare against Castro’s Cuba also proved a total failure, though in the Congo, American efforts were more successful. Yet throughout the 1970s, covert warfare increasingly came “under the legislative microscope,” and its “dark side” manifested in actions conducted through the 1980s against revolutionary movements in Latin America. Simultaneously, in Afghanistan, support for anti-Soviet insurgents midwifed a generation of Islamic terrorists. Fighting these new adversaries has produced a merging of the “covert and conventional,” emphasizing nation-building on one hand and individual targeting on the other, but, as the authors note, the success and prospects of both remain limited. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Congress declares war, right? Constitutionally, yes—but, as intelligence analysts Hancock and Wexler (The Awful Grace of God: Religious Terrorism, White Supremacy, and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., 2012) write, there's a reason it doesn't. "It is significant to note," write the authors, "that the United States Congress has not officially declared war since 1941." That hasn't kept America from waging dozens of wars large and small, but the point is deniability: If a war goes pear-shaped, then Congress allows the president to take the blame. It's a convenient arrangement, save that it has left presidents free to do things like land divisions in Vietnam and Iraq. Yet, as Hancock and Wexler demonstrate, Asia is almost an outlier: It's really been Latin America that has born the weight of America's military operations, especially covert ones, for years. They document, for instance, the U.S. military's involvement in hunting down Che Guevara, supposedly the work of the Bolivian army, and the role of the U.S. government in destabilizing and overthrowing other governments. The first president to do so vigorously was Dwight Eisenhower, who had no problem utilizing "surrogate troops, ‘mercenary' air support, intense psychological warfare, and threat of political assassinations." Since then, other presidents have made ample use of the formula. The handy thing about all this, for a president, is that the constitutional system of checks and balances gets put on the shelf. Cynics will find nothing new in the authors' overall argument, though even the best-schooled of them will find surprises: We all know that the U.S. mined the harbors of North Vietnam, but who knew that Ronald Reagan did so in Nicaragua? Who knew that the CIA has worked hand in hand with the world's major drug dealers, and that, for all its bloated budget, the Pentagon's major emphasis is now on cost-effective, good-bang-for-the-buck "gray warfare"? Readers who care about the intentions of the Founders and the niceties of human rights will come away depressed by this grim yet trenchant portrait of American imperial reach—and overreach.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781619023574
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 2/24/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 617,426
  • File size: 913 KB

Meet the Author

Larry Hancock graduated from the University of New Mexico with a triple major in anthropology, history, and education. He has worked on a variety of historical research projects, including November Patriots and Someone Would Have Talked. He lives in Oklahoma.

Stuart Wexler graduated from Tulane University with a degree in history. He now lives and teaches high school in New Jersey, where he won the prestigious James Madison Teachers’ Fellowship in 2010. Together with Hancock, he co-write The Awful Grace of God.
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Read an Excerpt

Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1957: a 19-megaton hydrogen bomb is dropped in an uninhabited area; the conventional explosives detonate, producing a twelve-foot-deep crater, 25 feet wide; some radioactive contamination results. The following year a collision forces the jettisoning of a nuclear bomb in the Atlantic off Savannah, Georgia. And later that same year a B-47 out of Hunter Air Force Base, Georgia, drops an unarmed weapon into the garden of a house in Mars Bluff, South Carolina. The bombs’ conventional explosives detonate, destroying the house, damaging five other houses and a church while injuring six civilians. Within a decade’s time, -- 1959, 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1968 -- similar military accidents happen. As with the previous incidents, contamination occurs, some bombs are recovered (some are not), and SAC servicemen lose their lives. Almost all these incidents, whether on our turf or our allies’, receive little or no press, and some are revealed only decades later.

During the Cold War, we may not have been privy to everything that was happening on our turf or on that of our allies because many operations were designed to be clandestine--to live in the shadows of the greater conflict. But one thing wasn’t secret: the Russians were shooting down our aircraft.

And we were damn mad about that.

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