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The Decision Point; Six Cases in U.S. Foreign Policy Decision Making

by
Edition:
1st
ISBN13:

9780199743520

ISBN10:
0199743525
Format:
Paperback
Pub. Date:
7/18/2012
Publisher(s):
Oxford University Press, USA
List Price: $31.95

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Summary

This book is intended as a different kind of introduction to American foreign policy, one whose focus is on the decisions that people in Washington DC make - and, indeed, on the decision-makers themselves - rather than on broad historical accounts of the general shape that US foreign policy has taken in the past, guides to contemporary issues being debated or detailed accounts of the different institutions and government offices involved in the policymaking process. Introducing students to US foreign policy decision-making through three general perspectives - termed here Homo Bureaucraticus, Homo Sociologicus and Homo Psychologicus - it then uses 'decision points' drawn from a variety of case studies (the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam war, the Iran hostage crisis, the Kosovo war and the Iraq war) to show how real US foreign policy decision-makers make real decisions. Drawing on a huge amount of literature, the book introduces the reader to a few basic theories of decision-making and then applies each of these to a range of historical cases in an understandable and student-friendly way. It tries to give students some sense of what it is really like to make high-level decisions, shows how far many of those decisions fall short of the exalted standards of 'pure rationality', and suggests ways in which they might apply various decision-making theories to some well-known cases from the recent (and not-so-recent) conduct of American foreign policy.

Author Biography


David Patrick Houghton is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida. He is the author of three other books, including Political Psychology: Situations, Individuals, and Cases (2008) and U.S. Foreign Policy and the Iran Hostage Crisis (2001) and numerous articles published in internationally known journals.

Table of Contents


Preface
PART I. THEORIES
Chapter 1. The Decision Point: An Introduction
The Traditions of Foreign Policy Decision-Making
Homo Economicus or the Rational Actor Model (RAM)
Three Alternatives to Homo Economicus
Homo Bureaucraticus
Homo Sociologicus
Homo Psychologicus
Levels of Analysis
Outline of the Book
Chapter 2. Homo Bureaucraticus
1. The Opening to China
2. The Hainan Island Incident of 2001
The Assumptions of Homo Bureaucraticus
"Where You Stand Depends On Where You Sit"
Organizational Culture: "The Way Things Are Done Around Here"
Chapter 3. Homo Sociologicus
Explaining the Iran-Contra Fiasco
The Assumptions of Homo Sociologicus
From Homo Sociologicus to Homo Psychologicus
Chapter 4. Homo Psychologicus
The Mayaguez Raid: Why The Rush?
"Bears To Honey": The Irresistible Pull of Analogical Reasoning
The Assumptions of Homo Psychologicus
From Theories to Case Studies
PART II. CASE STUDIES
Chapter 5. The Bay of Pigs: "How Could I Have Been So Stupid?"
A Thorn or a Dagger?
1. Homo Bureaucraticus
2. Homo Sociologicus
3. Homo Psychologicus
Assessing the Three Approaches: Some Points to Consider
Conclusions
Chapter 6. To the Brink: The Cuban Missile Crisis
Rational Decision-Making?
1. Homo Bureaucraticus
2. Homo Sociologicus
3. Homo Psychologicus
Assessing the Three Perspectives
Chapter 7. An Agonizing Decision: Escalating the Vietnam War
Why Did Johnson Escalate?
1. Homo Bureaucraticus
2. Homo Sociologicus
3. Homo Psychologicus
Assessing the Three Perspectives
Chapter 8. Disaster in the Desert: The Iran Hostage Crisis
The Hostages are Taken
Explaining Carter's Decisions
1. Homo Bureaucraticus
2. Homo Sociologicus
3. Homo Psychologicus
Assessing the Three Perspectives
Chapter 9. NATO Intervenes: 78 Days Over Kosovo
The Historical Background to the Conflict
1. Homo Bureaucraticus
2. Homo Sociologicus
3. Homo Psychologicus
Assessing the Three Perspectives
Chapter 10. Into Iraq: A War of Choice
Why Did the United States Decide to Invade Iraq?
1. Homo Bureaucraticus
2. Homo Sociologicus
3. Homo Psychologicus
Assessing the Three Perspectives
Chapter 11. Conclusions: A Personal View
Bibliography
Index


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