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Palgrave Macmillan

US Foreign Policy Decision-Making from Kennedy to Obama

Responses to International Challenges

ISBN 9781137397652
Publication Date March 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

During the past fifty years, the United States has been involved in multiple wars. Alex Roberto Hybel's extensively documented book uses some of today's leading foreign policy decision-making models to analyze John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon's distinct responses to the challenges emanating from Vietnam; George H.W. Bush's decision to defend Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation; George W. Bush's orders to invade Afghanistan and Iraq shortly after September 11, 2001; and Barack Obama's handling of perilous challenges in the nation's intervention in Afghanistan as he assumed the presidency. Throughout the book, Hybel meticulously explores each president's foreign policy decision-making process from the initial definition of the challenge to the moment the policy is formulated. Hybel pays special attention to each president's analytical process; the extent to which he relied on the counsel of his advisors; the mindsets that influenced his thinking and those of Washington's insiders; and the cognitive obstacles, if present, that afflicted his overall foreign policy decision-making process. Hybel concludes each analysis by identifying the model or models that best explains each president's approach to foreign policy decision-making and by assessing the quality of each president's approach to foreign policy formulation. His analyses provide in depth insights into to the way US leaders created foreign policies during unsettling periods.

Alex Roberto Hybel is the Susan Eckert Lynch Professor of Government at Connecticut College, USA.

Introduction; Alternative Theoretical Perspectives
1. John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and the Vietnam War
2. Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and the Retreat From Vietnam
3. George H.W. Bush and the Gulf War
4. George W. Bush and the Afghan and Iraq Wars
5. Barack Obama and the Afghan War
6. Intuition, Rationality, Mindsets, and Foreign Policy Decision-Making Models


"What a fascinating book. Alex Hybel puts us in the minds of five presidents and provides intimate detail about how they made some of the momentous decisions of their times in the White House. Vietnam dominates the earlier part of the narrative as we get a close look at the intellectual and emotional contrasts that Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon brought to the table. It was the same story in the Mideast, although that was a different story too. Father and son Bushes approached Iraq in ways that were different with strikingly similar reliance on intuition. Barack Obama's dealings with Afghanistan were marked by a decidedly different thought process as we might expect. Here's the takeaway though: These guys would probably have done just as well if they had simply thrown carts at a 'Decision Board.' Perhaps it's inevitable, but in modern times, the legacy of American wars will leave bad stains on the country these guys have led in their different ways. Hybel has performed a earl service to history to take us into their minds and guts."—Bob Franken, Columnist for King Features Syndicate and TV Commenter
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