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

Cormac, Rory; Daddow, Oliver J.

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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.

Citation

Cormac, R., & Daddow, O. J. (2018). Covert action failure and fiasco construction: William Hague’s 2011 Libyan venture. Journal of European Public Policy, 25(5), 690-707. https://doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2017.1291709

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 6, 2017
Online Publication Date Feb 20, 2017
Publication Date Feb 20, 2018
Deposit Date Jan 11, 2017
Publicly Available Date Aug 21, 2018
Journal Journal of European Public Policy
Print ISSN 1350-1763
Electronic ISSN 1466-4429
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 5
Pages 690-707
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2017.1291709
Keywords British foreign policy; covert action; discourse; failure; fiasco; narrative analysis;
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/845129
Publisher URL http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13501763.2017.1291709
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.com/10.1080/13501763.2017.1291709.
Contract Date Jan 11, 2017

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