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American Covert Action and Diplomacy after 9/11

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-402
Number of pages24
Issue number2
Early online date9 Jun 2022
Accepted/In press17 Feb 2021
E-pub ahead of print9 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


King's Authors


The relationship between American diplomats and intelligence officers has always been complex. The focus of American foreign policy and national security on counterterrorism efforts in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks further shaped the dynamic between diplomats and intelligence officers in the field as well as their respective roles. The tension between diplomacy and covert action as policy-implementing tools was largely resolved to the benefit of the latter. Consequently, a new status quo emerged. Intelligence officers took a leading role in policy-implementation efforts through covert action, whilst the role of diplomats in the field evolved in line with counterterrorism-driven foreign policy and national security needs. This analysis introduces a new typology of diplomats in the twenty-first century, contrasting the multifaceted diplomatic activists, who advanced counterterrorism-driven diplomacy, against the traditionalists seeing this new diplomacy as bellicose and against American national interests.

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