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Decision Makers' Use of False Analogies Causing Miscalculation and War
Unformatted Document Text:  Horan 22 While Munich advocated definitive early action against aggressive states, the Vietnam analogy argues for the opposite promoting the use of appeasement and deterrence. Engagement in the Vietnam War from the Munich analogy shows that without consideration of the differences between situations, analogies are inapplicable and back fire. The Vietnam analogy cautions against military intervention where the security interests are unknown and conventional military is ineffective as in third-world conflicts. The unforgettable disaster in Vietnam limited the action in Lebanon, Somalia, the Balkans and Central America in the 1980s and 1990s. President George H.W. Bush was careful to analyze the differences between Operation Desert Storm and the Vietnam intervention to guarantee success in the Persian Gulf. 38 President Clinton used Vietnam’s lessons on third party intervention in civil conflicts, a limited force to accomplish desired ends. Reinforced by failure in Lebanon in 1982 and Somalia in 1993, the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine that enshrined these lessons was continued by Clinton’s Presidential Decision Directive 25. In contrast to Munich, Vietnam encourages leaders to abstain from using force in situations where there is no national security interest unless in the most favorable of circumstances. 39 The Vietnam analogy creates pessimistic offensive miscalculation. Leaders use the failures in Vietnam to do the opposite and not enter war, or invade with overwhelming force without the intention of changing the existing regime. They ignore past successes of humanitarian intervention in paying attention only to the Vietnam analogy. The second type of informational analogy leading to pessimistic offensive miscalculation also uses an unsuccessful war as a base analogy (Figure 7, 46). In this case the analogy redefines the interests of the leaders in going to war. While previously the interests were already defined and 38 Record. “The Use and Abuse of History.” 166-167. 39 Record. “Perils of Reasoning by Historical Analogy.” 1.

Authors: Horan, Elizabeth.
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Horan 22
While Munich advocated definitive early action against aggressive states, the Vietnam
analogy argues for the opposite promoting the use of appeasement and deterrence. Engagement
in the Vietnam War from the Munich analogy shows that without consideration of the
differences between situations, analogies are inapplicable and back fire. The Vietnam analogy
cautions against military intervention where the security interests are unknown and conventional
military is ineffective as in third-world conflicts. The unforgettable disaster in Vietnam limited
the action in Lebanon, Somalia, the Balkans and Central America in the 1980s and 1990s.
President George H.W. Bush was careful to analyze the differences between Operation Desert
Storm and the Vietnam intervention to guarantee success in the Persian Gulf.
President Clinton
used Vietnam’s lessons on third party intervention in civil conflicts, a limited force to
accomplish desired ends. Reinforced by failure in Lebanon in 1982 and Somalia in 1993, the
Weinberger-Powell Doctrine that enshrined these lessons was continued by Clinton’s
Presidential Decision Directive 25. In contrast to Munich, Vietnam encourages leaders to
abstain from using force in situations where there is no national security interest unless in the
most favorable of circumstances.
The Vietnam analogy creates pessimistic offensive
miscalculation. Leaders use the failures in Vietnam to do the opposite and not enter war, or
invade with overwhelming force without the intention of changing the existing regime. They
ignore past successes of humanitarian intervention in paying attention only to the Vietnam
analogy.
The second type of informational analogy leading to pessimistic offensive miscalculation also
uses an unsuccessful war as a base analogy (Figure 7, 46). In this case the analogy redefines the
interests of the leaders in going to war. While previously the interests were already defined and
38
Record. “The Use and Abuse of History.” 166-167.
39
Record. “Perils of Reasoning by Historical Analogy.” 1.


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