By Yuen Foong Khong
From global warfare I to Operation wasteland hurricane, American policymakers have many times invoked the "lessons of historical past" as they meditated taking their kingdom to struggle. Do those ancient analogies really form coverage, or are they essentially instruments of political justification? Yuen Foong Khong argues that leaders use analogies now not in simple terms to justify guidelines but in addition to accomplish particular cognitive and information-processing projects necessary to political decision-making. Khong identifies what those initiatives are and indicates how they are often used to provide an explanation for the U.S. determination to intrude in Vietnam. hoping on interviews with senior officers and on lately declassified files, the writer demonstrates with a precision no longer attained by way of past reviews that the 3 most vital analogies of the Vietnam era--Korea, Munich, and Dien Bien Phu--can account for America's Vietnam offerings. a distinct contribution is the author's use of cognitive social psychology to help his argument approximately how people analogize and to provide an explanation for why policymakers frequently use analogies poorly.
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Additional info for Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965
This debate revolves around the options rejected by the Johnson administration in 1965. Those who argue that Vietnam was an unwinnable war lament the administration's unwillingness to withdraw or to deescalate. They believe none of the harsher options would have worked because they see the North Vietnamese as willing to tolerate high doses of pain to achieve their goal of reunification. The withdrawal option would have saved countless lives; it would also have saved the United States from the humiliation of losing its first conflict.
Interviews may help ascertain the importance of analogies compared to other factors, whether the users of the analogies took them seriously, or whether the analogies were just tools for advocacy. em a sense of detachment that makes them more forthcoming about what they do remember. Most important, the written record constrains the extent to which their imaginations may roam. A third source is available to check and to corroborate the evidence I present in this book. I refer to the oral histories given by officials of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to the respective presidential libraries.
The stakes in the debate as to whether the United States might have succeeded if it had chosen the harsher options are real. How the debate is resolved impinges on what the ultimate lessons of Vietnam are to be for the future decision-makers. 24 If there is any plausibility to these and other theses about how America could have won, it becomes important to understand why the supposedly more efficacious prointervention options were not chosen. The all-or-nothing approach toward military intervention may be a lesson drawn by recent administrations from the failure of "gradualism" in Vietnam.