Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq / Edition 2

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Overview

Following World War II, Americans expected that the United States would wage another major war against a superpower. Instead, the nation has fought limited wars against much weaker states, such as North Korea, North Vietnam, and Iraq. This revised and updated edition of Presidential Decisions for War analyzes the means by which four presidents have taken the nation to war and assesses the effectiveness of each president's leadership during those conflicts.

Gary Hess recreates the unfolding crises in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq to probe the reasons why Presidents Truman, Johnson, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush and their advisors decided in favor of war. He compares the performance of the commanders-in-chief and evaluates how effectively each understood U.S. interests, explored alternatives to war, adhered to constitutional processes, and built congressional, popular, and international support. A new conclusion points out, that unlike the administrations of Truman, Johnson, and the elder Bush, George W. Bush's White House actively sought to change the international order through preemptive war and aggressive democracy building.

Fully revised and featuring an examination of how each of the presidents learned from history and juggled the demands on diplomacy, this comparative study of presidential war-making elucidates how effective executive leadership—or its absence—directly affects the outcome of wars.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

International History Review
Hess's writing is clear, each chapter is sharply focused, and his comparisons are deft, all of which we have a right to expect from an historian of his stature.

— Warren I. Cohen

Historian
A solid work... Hess has packaged three historical vignettes in a thorough, concise, and readable primer on wartime presidential leadership.

— Dan Koprowski

Virginia Quarterly Review

This book admirably introduces an historical cross-analysis that allows some assessment of US leadership during these critical times.

International History Review - Warren I. Cohen

Hess's writing is clear, each chapter is sharply focused, and his comparisons are deft, all of which we have a right to expect from an historian of his stature.

Historian - Dan Koprowski

A solid work... Hess has packaged three historical vignettes in a thorough, concise, and readable primer on wartime presidential leadership.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801891243
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 2/10/2009
  • Series: The American Moment
  • Edition description: second edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary R. Hess is a Distinguished Research Professor of History at Bowling Green State University. His published works include The United States at War, 1941-1945; Vietnam and the United States: Origins and Legacy of War; The United States' Emergence as a Southeast Asia Power, 1940-1950; and America Encounters India, 1941-1947.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Series Editor's Foreword ix

Preface to the Second Edition xi

Introduction: Presidential Leadership and International Crises 1

1 Harry S. Truman and the Korean Crises: "We can't let the U.N. down" 8

2 Harry S. Truman as Commander in Chief: Decision by Indecision 41

3 Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam Crisis: "America keeps her word" 75

4 Lyndon B. Johnson as Commander in Chief: The Strategy of Wishful Thinking 113

5 George H. W. Bush and the Persian Gulf Crisis: "This aggression will not stand" 153

6 George H. W. Bush as Commander in Chief: The Imperatives of Coalition Warfare 199

7 George W. Bush and the Second Crisis with Iraq: "Time is not on our side" 221

8 George W. Bush as Commander in Chief: History Overpowers Ideology 249

Conclusion: Four Presidents and Their Wars 278

Bibliographical Essay 291

Index 321

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