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Title: American security policy : getting it far too wrong
Author: Mauk, John
ISNI:       0000 0005 0287 5406
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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The outcomes of U.S. policy and strategy decisions to use military force in Afghanistan and Iraq demand a critical assessment of U.S. strategic decision-making. Presidential decisions to commit military force in these nations did not achieve U.S. objectives nor did they serve to protect vulnerable populations, or reduce terrorist threats, nor set the conditions for a better peace. These policies sought ambiguous, open-ended political objectives that could not be achieved despite vast economic capacity and unmatched military capabilities. The undesirable outcomes of these conflicts naturally invite scrutiny of the policy decisions that led to them. Academic analysis of foreign policy decisions is traditionally done through the lens of theories that consider the rationality of choices or in terms of human or socio-structural factors influencing them to understand why actors decided as they did. However, there is another perspective to be considered from the field of decision science that has developed a systematic approach to analyze complex problems and identify, risk-informed choices. This Applied Decision Analysis (ADA) methodology is a prescriptive approach that focuses on the soundness of analytical procedure used to develop decision criteria and is widely employed across many professions including business, finance, and industry. This methodology focuses on what was considered to underpin decisions as opposed to why decisionmakers chose as they did. In fact this prescriptive approach is the primary methodology for decision analysis within the U.S. military who must implement the policies of presidents. Given the prevalent use of this highly developed procedure, it is perplexing then that the National Security Council (NSC) does not appear to employ this approach when considering complex security policy problems. This is surprising as the NSC was created to assist presidents for this very purpose. It is similarly puzzling that the field of Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) does not appear to embrace this approach to analysis in a meaningful way. This study will apply a prescriptive ADA methodology to consider the decision analysis procedures of successive presidential administrations to understand what they considered in forming policy decisions to use military force. The decision procedures of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama NSCs are evaluated here to identify key influencing factors, patterns and potential gaps, and characterize their implications for policy performance in addressing the central question this study: How might an ADA perspective enhance understanding of presidential decision-making procedures on vital national security issues and can this prescriptive perspective add value to mainstream FPA approaches?
Supervisor: Bird, Timothy ; Maiolo, Joseph Anthony Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available