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How Elected Leaders Prolong Unpopular Wars: Examining American Policy During the Vietnam War and French Policy During the Algerian War

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Abstract:

I investigate the factors that cause democratic countries to exit peripheral wars. Specifically, I examine why it takes leaders so long to end these conflicts; in both cases I examine – France’s involvement in Algeria and the U.S.’ involvement in Vietnam – there is a significant time lag between the initial drop in public support for the war, and the eventual decision to withdraw. First, I outline the dominant explanations for retrenchment, which hold that rising casualties or policy failures will trigger a drop in public support for the war, and a policy change. I find that these theories do not provide correct predictions in either case study.

I use framing theory to develop an alternate hypothesis; I define a “frame” as a justification for involvement in a war. This theory predicts that an unpopular war will continue if a leader succeeds in reframing the policy debate, and offering the public a new justification for continued involvement. Framing theory offers predictions about the circumstances under which a leader can reframe a debate: frames are only likely to succeed when they are promoted by a credible leader, address issues that are salient to the public, and resonate with prevailing social beliefs.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

public (228), war (211), polici (123), vietnam (98), support (93), frame (90), state (78), percent (70), presid (69), nixon (69), algeria (67), de (62), gaull (61), would (61), unit (61), opinion (60), cost (59), leader (59), new (49), involv (48), poll (47),
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Association:
Name: International Studies Association Annual Conference "Global Governance: Political Authority in Transition"
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http://www.isanet.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p501429_index.html
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MLA Citation:

McHugh, Kelly. "How Elected Leaders Prolong Unpopular Wars: Examining American Policy During the Vietnam War and French Policy During the Algerian War" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association Annual Conference "Global Governance: Political Authority in Transition", Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel, MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA, Mar 16, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p501429_index.html>

APA Citation:

McHugh, K. A. , 2011-03-16 "How Elected Leaders Prolong Unpopular Wars: Examining American Policy During the Vietnam War and French Policy During the Algerian War" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association Annual Conference "Global Governance: Political Authority in Transition", Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel, MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA Online <PDF>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p501429_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: I investigate the factors that cause democratic countries to exit peripheral wars. Specifically, I examine why it takes leaders so long to end these conflicts; in both cases I examine – France’s involvement in Algeria and the U.S.’ involvement in Vietnam – there is a significant time lag between the initial drop in public support for the war, and the eventual decision to withdraw. First, I outline the dominant explanations for retrenchment, which hold that rising casualties or policy failures will trigger a drop in public support for the war, and a policy change. I find that these theories do not provide correct predictions in either case study.

I use framing theory to develop an alternate hypothesis; I define a “frame” as a justification for involvement in a war. This theory predicts that an unpopular war will continue if a leader succeeds in reframing the policy debate, and offering the public a new justification for continued involvement. Framing theory offers predictions about the circumstances under which a leader can reframe a debate: frames are only likely to succeed when they are promoted by a credible leader, address issues that are salient to the public, and resonate with prevailing social beliefs.


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