ISSN 2822-3349 (Printed)
ISSN 2822-3357 (Online)

Covert Operations as a Foreign Policy Tool: US Involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989)

30.06.2023 | Merve SEREN , Namık Kemal YILDIZ


The phenomenon of “covert actions” is mostly based on a perception adorned by outlandish conspiracy theories based on mystical narratives and fictional plots. While this perception is presented in the genres of biographies, memoirs, and novels of covert operations, especially in the Turkish literary world, it remains as a neglected theme in academic literature. However, the phenomenon of covert operations, contrary to the common assumptions, is not an issue consisting of detective-adventures, else assigned only to military units. On the contrary, the role of covert action involves conducting a wide range of intelligence tasks such as facilitating military missions, economic and industrial espionage, psychological warfare, political or proxy wars interventions. This paper, therefore, has three main objectives. First, it aims to indicate the necessity of examining covert operations as academic research that relies on fundamental principles of scientific methodology, rather than mystical assumptions. Second, this study attempts to reveal how some states -particularly the U.S.- carry out covert operations as a tool of foreign policy leverage, by explaining its’ multifunctional roles both in theoretical and practical terms. Third, this paper, to reinforce a comprehensive understanding of the concept and phenomenon of covert operations, explores the driving forces and key objectives of the state/non-state actors who conducted or provided support to the covert operations carried out in Afghanistan. Accordingly, the case-based question of this study is whether the covert operations that are utilized as foreign policy instruments resulted in success are short duration only, since states experience some negative impacts of the covert actions on the foreign policy-making processes as a long-term consequence. Thus, this study sheds light on the question: “If Afghanistan is an example of short-term gain causing long-term problems owing to unanticipated consequences of covert actions?”

Key Words

Seren, M. ve Yıldız, N.K. (2023). Covered Actions as a Foreign Policy Tool: US Intervention in the Occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989). Journal of Intelligence Research and Studies, 2(2), pp.178-220, DOI: