Risk in American foreign military interventions
Bolan, Christopher J.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. What factors most heavily influence the risk perceptions of senior American leaders as they consider the use of military force? This study employs qualitative research methods and process tracing to probe the history of multiple American military interventions into Afghanistan and Iraq for insights into the changing risk perceptions of presidents and their senior advisors as they contemplate military action. This research project examines the roles played by the global distribution of power, the nature of the threat as measured by balance-of-power and balance-of-threat considerations, the policymaker's strategic decision-making domain, and cognitive heuristics. The study charts the impact of these various factors on the perceptions of the political, policy, military, and economic risks associated with American presidential decisions to initiate, sustain, and terminate military interventions overseas.; The specific cases considered include President Carter's decision to avoid military intervention in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979; President George W. Bush's decision to initiate Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001; President George H.W. Bush's decision-making to both initiate and terminate Operation Desert Storm in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August of 1990; and President George W. Bush's decision to order Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and his subsequent decision to surge additional troops into Baghdad in 2007.; In particular, these cases demonstrate the influential roles played by balance-of-threat considerations and the cognitive heuristics of representativeness, availability, and anchoring in presidential decision-making.
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