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Covert action failure and fiasco construction: William Hague’s 2011 Libyan venture

Cormac, Rory; Daddow, Oliver J.

Authors

RORY CORMAC RORY.CORMAC@NOTTINGHAM.AC.UK
Professor of International Relations

Oliver J. Daddow



Abstract

In 2011 William Hague, then British Foreign Secretary, authorized a Special Forces team to enter Libya and attempt to contact rebels opposed to Muammar Gaddafi in the unfolding civil war. However, its members were detained by the rebels, questioned and ejected from the country. This article puts the literature on public policy failures into dialogue with that on covert action as a tool of foreign policy. It asks: why did this not develop into a fully-fledged policy fiasco when journalists and politicians alike judged it to have been a major error of judgement on Hague’s part? Using narrative analysis of the contemporary reporting of this incident, we argue that the government – possessing the advantage of information asymmetry accruing from operational secrecy – was ultimately able to win the battle of narratives in a frame contestation process. The study of information asymmetry can enhance the recently revivified research into foreign policy failures.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal Journal of European Public Policy
Print ISSN 1350-1763
Electronic ISSN 1350-1763
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Cormac, R., & Daddow, O. J. (in press). Covert action failure and fiasco construction: William Hague’s 2011 Libyan venture. Journal of European Public Policy, doi:10.1080/13501763.2017.1291709. ISSN 1350-1763
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2017.1291709
Keywords British foreign policy; covert action; discourse; failure; fiasco; narrative analysis;
Publisher URL http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13501763.2017.1291709
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of European Public Policy on 20 Feb 2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline..../13501763.2017.1291709.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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