By Yuen Foong Khong
From global struggle I to Operation barren region hurricane, American policymakers have time and again invoked the "lessons of heritage" as they meditated taking their state to warfare. Do those historic analogies really form coverage, or are they essentially instruments of political justification? Yuen Foong Khong argues that leaders use analogies no longer simply to justify regulations but in addition to accomplish particular cognitive and information-processing initiatives necessary to political decision-making. Khong identifies what those projects are and indicates how they are often used to provide an explanation for the U.S. selection to interfere in Vietnam. hoping on interviews with senior officers and on lately declassified records, the writer demonstrates with a precision no longer attained by way of earlier stories 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 provide an explanation for why policymakers frequently use analogies poorly.
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Additional resources for Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965
I take up this issue in the next chapter. culation is able to explain why C' was chosen over D' or E'. In fact, if one takes the logic of containment or credibility seriously, one would expect options D' or E' to be chosen over C'. S. objectives. Obviously, some factor other than containment or credibility was at work. Containment theorists often turn to domestic or bureaucratic politics to explain why the harsher options were rejected. Although those factors were relevant, the way they are introduced into the argument is rather ad hoc.
The 1930s, Malaya, and Greece are also among the top five analogies in both counts. The French experience, however, never invoked in public, was the second most frequently used analogy in private. It therefore also deserves to be analyzed. In addition, the 1930s and Malaya analogies will also figure prominently in this work. In effect, I have chosen to analyze the four most frequently invoked private analogies. 2 are partially responsible for this choice; equally important, however, is a qualitative assessment, based on interviews with former policymakers and a familiarity with the Vietnam documents, of the analogies that seem to matter.
Finally, in documenting how the various analogies influenced policymakers' analyses of Vietnam and their options, I refrain from evaluating the accuracy of their diagnoses. Some of the analogy-based assessments made by policymakers will appear misleading, perhaps even ludicrous, to the reader, yet I shall withhold judgment, at least in part 2 of this work. In so doing, I do not mean to suggest that the policymakers' anal- 64 CHAPTER 3 ogy-based diagnoses were correct. Indeed, in each case, I also document how detractors tried to point out the flaws of those analogies.