Three Long and Costly Wars

James H. Lebovic

in Planning to Fail

Published in print May 2019 | ISBN: 9780190935320
Published online April 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780190937263 | DOI:

Series: Bridging the Gap

Three Long and Costly Wars

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The US wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan display a biased decisional pattern rooted in the non-rational tendencies of a “means-driven” process. Critical lessons from these three long wars emerge from examining decision-making in the four stages of these conflicts. Policy makers must recognize benefits in contingency plans, continuous assessment, and comprehensive policy evaluation. At the same time, they must acknowledge potential dangers in precipitous intervention; illusionary consensus; ad hoc argumentation, temporizing, and non-decisions; a lack of military preparedness; overconfidence about likely mission success; deference to costs in policymaking; and plans that can assume a life of their own.

Keywords: non-rational tendencies; decisional pattern; temporizing; non-decisions; military preparedness; contingency plans; contingency planning; fallback options

Chapter.  5497 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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