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Decision Makers' Use of False Analogies Causing Miscalculation and War
Unformatted Document Text:  Horan 40 making comparisons to the success of the Persian Gulf War versus the failure of Vietnam, President Bush decided to invade Iraq. The speed and force with which the American forces had repelled the Iraqis from Kuwait in 1991 was still in the mind of the current President whose father initiated this decision. In the Persian Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush appreciated the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine following the Vietnam War. As a result, his decision to repel Iraq from Kuwait fulfilled the characteristics deemed necessary for invasion according to this doctrine, “the presence of vital interests, a determination to win, the establishment of clear political and military objectives, the assurance of public and congressional support, and the use of force as a last resort.” While he recognized the similarities between this engagement and Vietnam, he took every measure to protect against it. Former President Bush’s declaration after the American victory that “we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all...the specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian Peninsula,” cemented his President George W. Bush’s use of the Persian Gulf War as an analogy for his entrance into Iraq in 2003. 80 This belief in the irrelevance of the lessons from Vietnam continued throughout the decision making process about the invasion of Iraq. In proposals by United States analysts based on information the Persian Gulf War, a coup could remove the Baathist regime after a U.S. invasion. However the planners did not consider changes from “over a decade of punishing sanctions known to be engineered by the United States.” 81 In a press conference a year into the war in Iraq on April 14, 2004, a reporter asked the current President Bush about comparisons between the situation in Iraq and the Vietnam quagmire. He replied, “I think the analogy is false.” 82 The success of Afghanistan perpetuated the view that the Vietnam analogy as null and 80 Record. “Perils of Reasoning by Historical Analogy.” 14. 81 Dodge, Toby. “War and Resistance in Iraq: From Regime Change to Collapsed State.” The Iraq War: Causes and Consequences. Eds. Rick Fawn and Raymond Hinnebusch. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. 2006. 213-214. 82 Record. “The Use and Abuse of History.” 168.

Authors: Horan, Elizabeth.
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Horan 40
making comparisons to the success of the Persian Gulf War versus the failure of Vietnam,
President Bush decided to invade Iraq. The speed and force with which the American forces had
repelled the Iraqis from Kuwait in 1991 was still in the mind of the current President whose
father initiated this decision. In the Persian Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush appreciated
the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine following the Vietnam War. As a result, his decision to repel
Iraq from Kuwait fulfilled the characteristics deemed necessary for invasion according to this
doctrine, “the presence of vital interests, a determination to win, the establishment of clear
political and military objectives, the assurance of public and congressional support, and the use
of force as a last resort.” While he recognized the similarities between this engagement and
Vietnam, he took every measure to protect against it. Former President Bush’s declaration after
the American victory that “we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all...the specter of
Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian Peninsula,” cemented his
President George W. Bush’s use of the Persian Gulf War as an analogy for his entrance into Iraq
This belief in the irrelevance of the lessons from Vietnam continued throughout the
decision making process about the invasion of Iraq. In proposals by United States analysts based
on information the Persian Gulf War, a coup could remove the Baathist regime after a U.S.
invasion. However the planners did not consider changes from “over a decade of punishing
sanctions known to be engineered by the United States.”
In a press conference a year into the
war in Iraq on April 14, 2004, a reporter asked the current President Bush about comparisons
between the situation in Iraq and the Vietnam quagmire. He replied, “I think the analogy is
false.”
The success of Afghanistan perpetuated the view that the Vietnam analogy as null and
80
Record. “Perils of Reasoning by Historical Analogy.” 14.
81
Dodge, Toby. “War and Resistance in Iraq: From Regime Change to Collapsed State.” The Iraq War: Causes and
Consequences. Eds. Rick Fawn and Raymond Hinnebusch. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. 2006. 213-214.
82
Record. “The Use and Abuse of History.” 168.


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