CIA Become More Prominent in the Conduct Term Paper

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¶ … CIA become more prominent in the conduct of American foreign policy and why did this agency become a "necessary evil" in the Cold War diplomacy?

There are times in history that determine the evolution of the elements that make up the society and its reality. The Central Intelligence Agency can be seen as being the result of the Cold War, the time in history defining the non-military confrontation between the two major superpowers, the U.S. And the U.S.S.R. The National Security Act of 1947 gave birth to one of the most complex institutions of the intelligence system worldwide, but at the same time, because of its diverse activities, it also created a subject of great historical controversy. Thus, there are various perspectives on the CIA actions, which can portray in both a negative and positive light the Agency's operations during the Cold War. Nonetheless, it remained an essential tool in the fight against communism and the maintenance of the informational system.

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The CIA was established in 1947 through the National Security Act, as part of the wider informational system "which grew out of World War II era Office of Strategic Services and small post-war intelligence organizations. The CIA served as the primary civilian intelligence-gathering organization in the government." (U.S. Dept. Of State, n.d.) According to the establishing act, it was designed for gathering of intelligence in respect to the potential threats facing the U.S. borders. (U.S. Intelligence Community, 2004) This evolution came as a result of the considered failure of intelligence that determined the lack of anticipation of the Pearl Harbor attacks. Thus, it is quite obvious the way in which a historical event can determine the creation of an essential tool for countering any subsequent repeats.

Term Paper on CIA Become More Prominent in the Conduct Assignment

Despite its pacifist aims and patriotic goals, the agency failed to ensure a situation of calm and evolution in the intelligence community. It was obvious that, immediately after its creation, the ambiguous statute of the Agency would stir up controversy. On the one hand, there was the issue of whether the CIA would have to coordinate the information received in cases of internal threats, and on the other, whether it should also deal with the information provided through the means of counter intelligence channels available in conflicts such as the one with the U.S.S.R. Therefore, the controversy was stirred from the very beginning, but in the end, the U.S. Congress approved of the initiation of the "covert operations." (CNN, 2007)

The covert operations represented the means through which the CIA acted throughout the Cold War. A clear definition of this type of activity is rather hard to establish. A 1976 Senate report agreed that covert operations could be defined as being "any clandestine activity designed to influence foreign governments, events, organizations, or persons in support of United States foreign policy. Covert action may include political and economic actions, propaganda, and paramilitary activities [and is] planned and executed... so as to conceal the identity of the sponsor or else to permit the sponsor's plausible denial of the operation." (Goodman, 1987) This definition clearly underlines both the secret nature of the activities undergone by the Agency and the foreign destination of its goals.

Again, a rather debated issue was the need for a structure that would be by all odds, a relatively independent entity in the American government responsible to the President but under no direct democratic control of the people or the public opinion. Indeed, intelligence operations and espionage systems are by definition a complex institution based on limited and control release of information to the public. Yet, World War II represented a crucial period in the collective conscience of the U.S. And the people were little aware of the implication undercover operations would have on all the actors involves, including the U.S. Agents and the countries they were dispatched to. Consequently, in the first years following the establishment of the CIA, the attitude towards such an intelligence unit was neither positive, nor negative. Indirectly, this would explain the support it received from the national authorities.

The role of the CIA must be seen in the wider context that was the Cold War. David Murphy, Serghei Kondrasev and George Bailey agreed on the idea that the CIA was the manifestation of the collective repulsion of the West towards the temptations the communist forces began to represent for the common people of countries such as Italy and France. (Murphy et al., 1997) Indeed, it can be said that the CIA was the outcome of a planned strategy to fight the U.S.S.R. On all levels, politically, economic, socially and culturally because of the threat it represented for the democratic institutions at these levels. From this point-of-view, it played a crucial role in influencing the political strategies of the countries it acted in, it represented the complex expression of "our efforts to influence the course of events in a foreign country without our role being known." (Turner, 1985)

An exact account of the missions undergone by the Agency is difficult to give. This is largely due to the wide range of tools the CIA had at its disposal to influence the foreign policy of other states. Nonetheless, throughout the Cold War, it was engaged in activities covering a wide spectrum of initiatives.

Covert operations were used as a Cold War tool for information gathering. The main targets for such operations were representative for the general fear from the communists. Thus, the U.S. considered it to be imperative a well-established information base about the communist threat in newly independent countries from Asia and Africa. It was thought that the fight between the "good" and "the empire of evil" demanded an in depth knowledge of the political situation in those countries.

This was the case in post war Italy, Greece, where the information gathered on the communists enabled the Americans to secretly intervene and downplay their plans to get hold of power. (Ranelagh, 1986)

On the other hand, the CIA underwent numerous intervention missions, which focused on secretly using propaganda means, disinformation techniques, and manipulation of the public opinion and assassination attempts. In the light of these means used by the CIA, there were positive results as well as negative ones. One example of a successful operation would be the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1954 or in Guatemala the same year. Still, there are also examples that make Senator's Daniel P. Moynihan claim for the dissolution of the Agency, be somewhat motivated. (Jeffreys- Jones, 1989) These include the Bay of Pigs operation or the Nicaraguan Contras. The latter was also the reason for serious criticism over the morality of the actual operations and means used by the Agency in its missions. The CIA was constantly accused of having contributed, rather than limited or speeding the end of the Cold War due to its unconditioned cooperation with extremist and illegal factions from different countries, with the sole aim of rebelling against the communist regime ruling that nation.

From the perspective of the failed missions undergone by the CIA, especially during the 60's and 70's, there were numerous voices that considered the Agency had negatively contributed to the maintenance of a constant state of opposition towards the communists. In this respect, President Ford "claimed that the CIA overestimated the soviet threat." (Jeffreys- Jones, 1989) Several critics maintain that the Agency had exaggerated the economic and military strength of the Soviets in the 1970's. Others argued that senior Agency officials like Robert Gates had known that the Soviet Union was weakening but had twisted their intelligence output to exaggerate the communist threat and belittle Gorbachev's reforms, thus helping to fool the American people into accepting president's Reagan's expensive strategic plans. Despite it all, however, it is important to bear in mind the fact that the lack of information… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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