By Yuen Foong Khong
From global battle I to Operation wasteland typhoon, American policymakers have many times invoked the "lessons of heritage" as they pondered taking their country to struggle. Do those ancient analogies really form coverage, or are they basically instruments of political justification? Yuen Foong Khong argues that leaders use analogies now not simply to justify guidelines 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 give an explanation for the U.S. choice 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 past reports that the 3 most vital analogies of the Vietnam era--Korea, Munich, and Dien Bien Phu--can account for America's Vietnam offerings. a different contribution is the author's use of cognitive social psychology to help his argument approximately how people analogize and to give an explanation for why policymakers usually use analogies poorly.
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Extra info for Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965
The assumption here is that these options were serious alternatives: which one or which combination of them were chosen matters. Indeed, in the months leading up to the final meetings of July 1965, all five possibilities were live options. George Ball argued strenuously for Options A' and B' and felt, until the very end, that he had a fighting chance to convince the president. 16Clark Clifford, another close adviser to the president, also took Ball's positionY Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, on the other hand, favored Options C' and E' combined; the JCS wanted to go further and argued for Option D' as well.
To ascertain the degree to which the analogy is able to account for the options chosen, I then rely on the congruence procedure. Options inconsistent with the lessons of the analogy should be rejected. Among the remaining options-which should all be basically consistent with the analogy's lessons-I expect the option most fully consistent with most, if not all, of the lessons of the analogy to be the one chosen. I will also use the congruence test to assess the degree to which competing nonanalogical explanations such as containment and bureaucratic politics are able to account for the options chosen.
Few will deny that these were the two most fateful decisions of the Vietnam War. S. power and prestige in an unprecedented way to the conflict in Vietnam. S. personnel or installations, and the other was to launch a continuous heavy bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese. 10 Similarly, the decision in favor of sending combat troops to South Vietnam meant the rejection of four other options. The four options rejected were withdrawal, continuation of the present course, use of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) to pound the enemy, and a call-up of the reserves and declaration of an emergency.