By Yuen Foong Khong
From international struggle I to Operation barren region hurricane, American policymakers have many times invoked the "lessons of background" as they meditated taking their kingdom to conflict. Do those historic analogies really form coverage, or are they essentially instruments of political justification? Yuen Foong Khong argues that leaders use analogies now not only to justify rules but additionally to accomplish particular cognitive and information-processing initiatives 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. selection to intrude in Vietnam. counting on interviews with senior officers and on lately declassified files, the writer demonstrates with a precision now not attained via prior experiences that the 3 most crucial analogies of the Vietnam era--Korea, Munich, and Dien Bien Phu--can account for America's Vietnam offerings. a unique 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 usually use analogies poorly.
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Additional resources for Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965
In other words, options analysis involves the explicit listing of all conceivable responses and alternatives to a given foreign policy problem. To overcome the danger of narrow focus, it is ~uggested that the explanations proposed account for as many of the options tabled as possible. In the case of the Cuban missile crisis, an ideal explanation would be one that would show why the three "no force" options-"do nothing," "use diplomacy" and "make a secret approach to Castro"were rejected and would then go on to show why, among the "force" options, the naval blockade was chosen over the surgical air strike or invasion.
S. " See Pentagon Papers, 4:314. 23 See Mark Clodfelter, The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam (New York: The Free Press, 1989), pp. ix-x, ~9. Of Harry Summers, On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War (Novato, California: Presidio Press, 1982), chap. 10. 25 Allison's work has become a classic in foreign policy studies in part because it frames the problem ingeniously. Allison does not merely ask why the United States chose force over diplomacy in response to the Soviet emplacement of missiles in Cuba; he goes on to examine why, among the proforce options, the naval blockade was chosen.
However, it might be useful to point out a final reason why I have chosen to focus on one case and a few analogies. Previous works on the subject of the "lessons of history" and foreign policy have been large N studies of high quality. May's "Lessons" of the Past surveys the entire period after World War II in search of analogies that influenced American foreign policy. Snyder and Diesing's Conflict among Nations does not seek, but finds, many instances of analogies influencing policy discussions in international crises between 1898 and 1973.