Guideposts from Just-War Theory: Managing Covert Political Action

By: James A. Barry


In 1954, at the height of US concern about the threat from international Communism, President Eisenhower appointed a panel to make recommendations regarding covert political action as an instrument of foreign policy. The panel, named after its chairman, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, included the following statement in its report:
It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever costs. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply . . . .

In counseling such a radical departure from American norms, the authors of the Doolittle report adopted an argument that appears in hindsight to be extreme. But in the context of the times, it was consistent with several overlapping schools of thought in international affairs that formed the basis for many Cold War policies.