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

By Yuen Foong Khong

From international struggle I to Operation wasteland typhoon, American policymakers have many times invoked the "lessons of background" 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 no longer in simple terms to justify regulations but additionally 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. 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 via prior 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 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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When Johnson announced to the American public his decision to send combat troops to South Vietnam, he invoked a most accessible analogy to explain the stakes: Nor would surrender Hitler at Munich that success only feeds the appetite of aggression. The battle would be renewed in one country and then another country, bringing with it perhaps even larger and crueler conflict, as we have learned from the lessons of history. 6 In cases like these, it is difficult to deny that there is a strong element of justification and rationalization.

The direction, shape, and form of America's Vietnam policy, therefore, depended very much on which of these analogies were chosen. I Containment, Analogies, and the Pre-1965 Vietnam Decisions Reasoning by historical analogy became a virtual ritual in the United States under Secretaries of State Acheson (1949-52), Dulles (1953--58) and Rusk (1961-68) .... -Paul M. Kattenburg, The Vietnam Trauma IF THERE IS a controlling concept in the scholarly analysis of post-World War II American foreign policy, containment is it.

When such is the relationship among Options A', C', and D', the belief X: acquires added explanatory and predictive power of a quite useful kind, for it does discriminate between conciliatory and refractory responses (though not by itself between variants of a conciliatory response). In this sense ... beliefs introduce choice propensities into an actor's decision-making. In other words, the actor's adherence to belief [Xl . . does not determine in a linear, specific way his decision choice, but it does bound and delimit the general range or type of response he is likely to make in a given situation.

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