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By Yuen Foong Khong

From international struggle I to Operation desolate tract hurricane, American policymakers have many times invoked the "lessons of background" as they pondered taking their kingdom to battle. Do those historic analogies really form coverage, or are they basically instruments of political justification? Yuen Foong Khong argues that leaders use analogies no longer basically to justify guidelines but in addition to accomplish particular cognitive and information-processing initiatives necessary to political decision-making. Khong identifies what those projects are and exhibits 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 records, the writer demonstrates with a precision now not attained by way of earlier reports that the 3 most crucial 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 aid his argument approximately how people analogize and to give an explanation for why policymakers frequently use analogies poorly.

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Extra resources for Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965

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1 Containment is in fact the standard explanation of how America became involved in Vietnam. According to George Herring, a leading historian of the Vietnam conOict, The United States' involvement in Vietnam was not primarily a result of errors of judgment or of the personality quirks of the policy makers, although these things existed in abundance. S. intervention in Vietnam as an instance of the pursuit of "the core consensual goal of postwar foreign policy," the containment of communism. S. involvement in Vietnam is "mainly a story of ...

The theoretical payoffs of investigating the Vietnam decisions at the level of options can be seen in the puzzle that this approach raises for traditional explanations of America's intervention in the Vietnam War. One traditional explanation holds that Vietnam was the logical outcome of America's postwar policy of containment. S. credibility. S. decision to intervene in Vietnam had to do with the credibility calculations of the decision-makers. S. credibility was at stake in Vietnam in 1965: failure to intervene would probably result in a communist South Vietnam, and that in turn would lead both allies and enemies to conclude that the United States could not be counted on to live up to its commitments.

5 Gelb and Betts, Irony of Vietnam, lies somewhere in between the first and second waves in that it refers to the options rejected and attempts to explain their rejections; however, it is less systematic than the clear second-wave works such as Berman, Planning a Tragedy, and George MeT. Kahin, Intervention: How America Became Involved in Vietnam (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986). VIETNAM OPTIONS 53 'ntervention and not withdrawal? To be sure, a successful explanation at ~hiSlevel contributes to our understanding of the Vietnam War.

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Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965 by Yuen Foong Khong


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