HomeOutline of the Project

Outline of the Project

In playing their clandestine game of thrones, both superpowers developed vast bureaucracies of specialized clandestine warriors: assassins, analysts, chemists, military trainers, psychologists, developmental experts and propagandists. We know that these secret armies conducted all sorts of missions across the Non-Western World; from assassinations to sabotage, disinformation, counter-insurgency training and offering logistical support. What is less clear is how this war in the shadows redirected the political, social and economic trajectory of non-Western regions? The purpose of our collective research project is to dig into this question by scouring the open sources on the web to unearth all documents pertaining to war in the shadows. Our broad research question is: from 1950-1975, how did the superpowers undermine the Bandung project, redirect the global process of decolonization and sabotage postcolonial projects for development? In order, to answer this question, students will undertake particular case studies exploring the war in the shadows from different angles or relative to particular world regions. Students will scour declassified records and official documents in an attempt to reconstruct the scope of the war in the shadows. Comparative history is predicated on the ideal that juxtaposing unique case studies enables us to catch a glimpse of a broader historical phenomena. Our project is interdisciplinary in scope by exploring the Cold War links between espionage, postcolonial history, development policy and culture. Our collective ambition is to bring the war in the shadows into the light and present some tentative conclusions about how the Cold War shaped the trajectory of postcolonial development. Selecting

Potential Case Studies

The global Cold War is too large to bring into focus so our project will work by building up a general picture by the means of representative case studies. Students need to be mindful that for each world region the timing and nature of decolonization, the strategic significance and the strategies for modernization were distinct. Individual states like the Congo, Angola, Ghana, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Cuba, Egypt, Iran and Somalia had very different experiences with the Cold War because the superpowers, colonial states and multinational corporations had different interests and expectations for them. In terms of bringing the war in the shadow to light students are encouraged to focus on these subordinate questions:

Tools for Subversion: Clandestine subversion comes in many forms; through what means were hostile states, neutralist nations or formal allies pressured into adopting policies that benefitted outside interests?

Secret War: Can we find any records that enable us to estimate how much money was invested in clandestine subversion and where did this money come from private pockets or public funds?

Conduits for Subversion: To what extent did state agencies, multinational corporations or journalists serve as conduits for clandestine subversion: financing the political opposition, unwittingly publishing disinformation or facilitate the recruitment of foreign assets?

Quantifying Victims: The Cold War tended to produce ‘hybrid conflicts’ that often-involved elements of ethnic conflict, civil war and elite rivalry exacerbated by clandestine subversion, covert financing and economic sabotage. To what extent can we quantify the number of direct deaths from violence, victims of torture, or victims of economic warfare?

Morals and Constraints: To what extent do the documents regarding the secret war reveal a concern among clandestine agents about public opinion, moral scruples or some fear that exposure might compromise their missions?

Hijacked Developmental Program: To what extent was the country’s project for modernization redirected away from the goals of indigenous leaders and the interests of local peoples towards the designs of foreign powers, the profit of foreign investors and fat contracts for multinational corporations?

Distortion of Postwar Trajectory: Analyze the economic and social progress of the postcolonial state from 1950-1970. To what extent can we correlate the war in the shadows with the country’s metrics for social and economic development?

Political Legacy: To what extent were postcolonial institutions impacted by the Cold War; were state institutions or the body political damaged, their function impaired or lose prestige as the result of foreign subversion?

Regional Differences: Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East were very different geographic and cultural regions. Relative to the war in the shadows, are there any broad differences in terms of how it was waged, or were such structural and cultural factors less significant and was the secret war more conditioned by idiosyncratic local factors?

National Idiosyncrasies: To what extent was this postcolonial state of strategic importance in the Cold War and to what extent did this contour the strategy and resources devoted towards clandestine subversion?