Pandora's Trap: Presidential Decision Making and Blame Avoidance in Vietnam and Iraq

Pandora's Trap: Presidential Decision Making and Blame Avoidance in Vietnam and Iraq

by Thomas Preston
     
 

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How important is presidential personality and leadership style in foreign policy decisions? To answer this question, Thomas Preston takes readers inside the Bush administration's decision-making process and use of intelligence to better understand how administration officials justified the Iraq War—and how they sought to avoid blame for the consequences of

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Overview

How important is presidential personality and leadership style in foreign policy decisions? To answer this question, Thomas Preston takes readers inside the Bush administration's decision-making process and use of intelligence to better understand how administration officials justified the Iraq War—and how they sought to avoid blame for the consequences of their actions.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
Preston's work adds significantly to the key scholarly debate in presidential studies over whether institutional forces or idiosyncratic aspects of each president determine policy outcomes. The author argues that 'leaders matter!' Preston uses his earlier work on leadership style to compare the decision-making styles of Lyndon Johnson during Vietnam and George W. Bush during the Iraq War. Though the political contexts of Vietnam and Iraq differed greatly, the Johnson and G.W. Bush decision-making styles were similar enough—lack of foreign policy experience, lack of nuanced thinking, passionate belief that they were right, and insular decision making—that both followed a path to intervention. The book is theoretically elegant and empirically dense. Rooted in literature on cognitive styles, the theoretical structure is based on two frameworks. The first measures the leader's need for control and his prior experience in the policy area. The second measures the leader's sensitivity to context and conceptual complexity. Through this framework a typology of leadership styles is developed for use in comparing actual decision making in case studies, here Iraq and Vietnam. An outstanding contribution to the literature. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels.
Paul R. Pillar
Thomas Preston illuminates the unattractive underside of the making of U.S. foreign policy. He shows how and why the public face of some major decisions has diverged substantially from the inside reality.
CHOICE
Preston's work adds significantly to the key scholarly debate in presidential studies over whether institutional forces or idiosyncratic aspects of each president determine policy outcomes. The author argues that 'leaders matter!' Preston uses his earlier work on leadership style to compare the decision-making styles of Lyndon Johnson during Vietnam and George W. Bush during the Iraq War. Though the political contexts of Vietnam and Iraq differed greatly, the Johnson and G.W. Bush decision-making styles were similar enough—lack of foreign policy experience, lack of nuanced thinking, passionate belief that they were right, and insular decision making—that both followed a path to intervention. The book is theoretically elegant and empirically dense. Rooted in literature on cognitive styles, the theoretical structure is based on two frameworks. The first measures the leader's need for control and his prior experience in the policy area. The second measures the leader's sensitivity to context and conceptual complexity. Through this framework a typology of leadership styles is developed for use in comparing actual decision making in case studies, here Iraq and Vietnam. An outstanding contribution to the literature. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742562639
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
09/01/2011
Series:
Pandora's Trap Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
252
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Paul R. Pillar
Thomas Preston illuminates the unattractive underside of the making of U.S. foreign policy. He shows how and why the public face of some major decisions has diverged substantially from the inside reality.

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