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Palgrave Macmillan

US Foreign Policy Decision-Making from Truman to Kennedy

Responses to International Challenges

ISBN 9781137294852
Publication Date March 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

The administrations of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy faced critical international challenges – including, most notably, using nuclear weapons against Japan, intervening militarily in Korea, toppling an emerging regime in Guatemala, restraining the actions of US allies during the Suez Canal Crisis, overthrowing Castro's Cuban regime, and forcing the USSR to remove nuclear missiles from Cuban soil. In this meticulously documented book, Alex Roberto Hybel tests the extent to which today's most important foreign policy decision-making models can explain the actions of the principal figures responsible for addressing each crisis. The book carefully analyses each president's cognitive system, the advisory structure each leader set up, and the pervading mindsets of Washington's insiders from each period. By evaluating the quality of each president's foreign policy decision-making process, readers will become familiar with core foreign policy decisions, how they were formulated, and the types of cognitive impediments that in certain instances undermined the quality of the decision-making process.

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

Introduction: Alternative Theoretical Perspectives
1. Harry Truman, the Dropping of the Atomic Bombs on Japan and the End of the Second World War
2. Harry Truman and the Decisions to Intervene in the Korean War and To Cross the 38th Parallel
3. Dwight Eisenhower and the Decision to Intervene Covertly in Guatemala
4. Dwight Eisenhower and the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956
5. John F. Kennedy and the Decision to Intervene Covertly in Cuba
6. John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis
7. Intuition, Rationality, Mindsets, and Foreign Policy Decision-Making Models


"Alex Roberto Hybel has provided foreign policy maker decision making scholars with unique insights into a crucial period in US history during which time the Cold War emerged and rose to highest level of tension. This important volume fulfils three objectives: it describes presidential decisions processes using rich case studies, it provides robust theoretical analysis of the cognitive system and mindset of the presidents, and it assesses leading foreign policy decision making models in light of decisions made during the era."—Karl DeRouen, Jr., Professor of Political Science and, Director, B.A. Program in International Studies, The University of Alabama, USA"We learn by stories, not PowerPoint slides, and Hybel and his co-authors expertly describe the foreign policy decision-making process in three presidential administrations. Detailed case studies are presented that are constructed around some nine analytical questions that seek to asses the quality of information provided each president and advisory team as well as the quality of the analysis and evaluation done by each president and the relevant advisors. The real strength of the study is the 'testing of the explanatory value' of various analytical models. His study suggests that no one model explains each situation and that rationality and belief systems or mindsets must be considered when trying to explain foreign policy decision. This is a comprehensive set of case studies that provide a thoughtful evaluation of most of the decision-making models used in foreign policy analysis today. A great text for teaching about the human dimension of decision-making and the importance of individual decision-makers in the formulation of foreign policy."— Steven L. Lamy, Vice Dean for Academic Program and Professor of International Relations, University of Southern California, USA
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