Chapter

Iraq and the (Unlearned) Lessons of Vietnam: Presidentialism and the Pathologies of Unilateral Policy Making

in Madison's Nightmare

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226749396
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226749426 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226749426.003.0003
Iraq and the (Unlearned) Lessons of Vietnam: Presidentialism and the Pathologies of Unilateral Policy Making

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This chapter looks at the making of foreign and military policy, with special reference to the national experience in Vietnam and Iraq. The decision making that Robert McNamara describes misjudged the “geopolitical intentions” of America's adversaries, misperceived the motivations of the leaders of South Vietnam, underestimated the importance of nationalism as a force driving the Viet Cong effort, and exaggerated the likely benefits to be realized from the superior equipment and fire power. His autobiography determines at least six obstacles to sound executive branch policy making process that were of key significance throughout the Vietnam debacle. Aside from the Cambodia catastrophe, Congress provided sufficient authorization for virtually every aspect of the Vietnam War to address all constitutional requirements, and Congress likewise enacted resolutions authorizing the use of military force in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Keywords: foreign policy; military policy; Vietnam; Iraq; Robert McNamara; policy making; Cambodia; Congress; Vietnam War; Afghanistan

Chapter.  10913 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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