The Age of U.S. Shadow Power: Juan Cole
In an article published recently in the NATION and also available here. Juan Cole a prof. at the U. of Michigan and well know commentator on Middle East politics writes of what he calls "The Age of American Shadow Power".
Cole notes that covert actions have long been part and parcel of U.S. policies to project power world-wide. However within the last decade he argues that these actions are becoming a more important part of U.S. power supplementing or even replacing conventional military action in many cases.
Among the new shadow power tools are drone strikes, electronic spying, secret operations by military units such as the Joint Special Operations Command. The government also now uses many more corporate contractors and mercenaries for security and even some terrorist groups.
As Cole points out these new tools can lead to operations that may put the U.S. in peril and create blow back. They also make the U.S. very unpopular in areas where they are unemployed. Drone attacks, and CIA operatives in Pakistan are a good example as well as the antics of private security contractors,. This is just a short introduction to the article for much more detail see the full article. Cole claims that if the use of shadow power is not rolled back it could hurt U.S. diplomacy and the blow back from the practices could make the U.S. actually less secure.