Johnson Administration

Analogical reasoning theory developed by Khong maintains that individual-level techniques are pertinent in the analysis of domestic policy, where decision makers need to deal with a discrete policy situation where the level of ambiguity and cognitive uncertainty is high. During the Vietnam War, under Johnson administration, the analysis of decisions demonstrates the extensive use of historical analogies at the different stages of the process of policymaking. The theory maintains that the past plays a pivotal role as a determinant force in confronting the present issues. The conditions that are prevailing at a certain time will influence the decisions of the future concerning a pertinent issue. The Johnson administration decisions were based on policy legacies resulting in the escalation of the war, in Vietnam. The theory also indicates that, on a certain administrative capacity, it is difficult, for an administration to put into practice a new set of policies. The Johnson administration utilized the analogical reasoning less sensibly than the Kennedy administration.

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The administration increasingly used the Munich analogy to justify their actions in Vietnam War. As such, the administration based on the analogy decided to increase the number of troops in Vietnam. “What was” was used to justify “what is” if the administration will fail to act based on history; hence, they anticipate an occurrence of World War III. The reasoning guides the presidency in making the decision of invading and escalating the war in Vietnam. It is, however, logical for the government to ensure that any past event does not reoccur. The theory fails to identify the consequences given that the situation surrounding the event might have changed. In essence, historical analogies were the main standpoint for the Johnson administration escalation of war in Vietnam (Pendergast 67).

Janis “Groupthink” approach points out the lack of moral judgment, reality testing, as well as weakening of mental efficiency. An in-group made the decisions that were made by the Johnson administration concerning Vietnam War. The President of foreign policy decision regarding Vietnam War consulted the group. The group was supposed to deliberate on the next steps that can be taken against the Vietnam War.

Barber’s analysis of character and style of the president approach assists the citizens and their advisors to clear the confusion that surrounds the choice of president. This will guide in understanding what a leader is capable of doing and what they do. Most American presidential leaders should be able to draw together, future political fears and hopes of the people. There is also an emotional attachment to any presidential leader sitting in the office as evident after the death of President Kennedy. The president is a compassionate leader who sustains, inspires, and nurtures the citizenry. When a president gets emotionally involved in an issue, it significantly influences how the leader will define the issue, the attention he will accord, the persons and facts pertinent to its resolution, and the purposes and principles connected to the issue.

The decisions of a president are two-fold since they are guided by rational calculations and emotions. These two aspects are connected forever. The actions of a president depict his wholeness. The approach further argues that the pattern of style of a president defines his way of doing things. In addition, character represents a president’s position as he deals with the experience. The fundamental personal resource of the president is his self-esteem, and as such, it requires a sacrifice of certain values. As a result, the Johnson personality influenced the national policy decisions to increase the number of troops in Vietnam to half a million, which resulted to division in the United States, and at the same time, undermine the capacity of the president to lead.

The groupthink approach maintains that national status and responsibilities of the policy-making groups do not affect decision-making; rather the pressures of ordinary citizens guide their decisions. To sustain healthy intergroup relations among members needs the evolution of a set of informal norms that will guide their relations. In a groupthink, miscalculated decisions result due to fatigue, ignorance, blinding prejudice, information overload, and erroneous intelligence.

The America’s Vietnam policy was affected by the group dynamics and that a considerable number of Americans voices were ignored concerning the adverse consequences, and immorality of military actions. The in-group members in the Johnson Administration were branded democrats who exhibited humanitarian outlook. The group justification of war in Vietnam against villagers, Mylai massacre and other violent means did not reflect the decisions of the majority of the citizens. The analysis of Johnson administration decisions concerning the war in Vietnam was contained in Pentagon papers. The papers revealed that the administration was employing groupthink approach in their decision-making. However, it appeared that the decision was repeatedly of poor quality. The group failed to drum up support for the long term consequences of their actions. The merits and demerits of the military intervention were excluded since narrow series of proposals was available for consideration. The inner circle during the Johnson administration constitutes the president, the secretary of state, undersecretary of state, press secretary, secretary of defense and white house assistants. This group was consulted by the president on policy decisions in relation to the war, in Vietnam (Stein 62).

The groupthink approach identifies that excessive risk taking and lack of vigilance adds to the vulnerability of the decisions made by groups. In this case, the Johnson administration was manipulating his advisers so that they can rubber stamp the foreign policies. The group was transformed into a sycophancy den where the president needs to hear what he wants and not the authentic opinions of the group members. This was evident when the members of the group were replaced regularly, and they need only to serve once. More so, the group should conform to a certain set of norms that will guide their conduct and decisions. The team in the administration insulates themselves from critics as a move to exclude the opinions of nonconformists. As such, the administration was able to counteract the views of many Americans, which were potential, in creating any disruptive influence.

The emergence of the groupthink syndrome is guided by the by bonds of loyalty and mutual friendship. However, the journalist as insensitive leader and at the same time extremely aggressive described Johnson. As such, these traits question the unity among the in-group members. This reveals a detached group, but in reality, the group was exceedingly cohesive. The objectives of the group were to gain political and economic power in Vietnam. A political leader uses the approach because they want to attain what they want through the means they have chosen. In that perspective, the decision by the Johnson administration to elevate the number of troops and violent attacks in Vietnam, the groupthink hypothesis formed its justification. This was evident by the consequences that resulted from the groupthink decision where the administration encountered a difficult time in trying to lead the population because the decisions were not Americans-possessed (Ellsberg 87).

Conversely, groupthink does not imply that all group decisions are ineffective and harmful, but groups that are cohesive and focused tend to execute policies that are well informed and critically inquired. As a result, the group makes decisions that no individual could make, in order to solve the problem. The aspect of groupthink affects the likelihood of the human error in the decision that the leaders are arriving at during any given situation. The approach ensured that the government under Johnson was trying to evade the likelihood of a World War III; hence their escalation of troops in Vietnam. The administration preferred group decisions since extensive opinions can be integrated in the decisions; thus, limiting worldviews and individual opinions. The well-known interferences are an impediment to search for state security and peace. However, the approach leads to immoral and inhumane acts that result from the decisions in Vietnam War, as a result, the decisions are less considerate.

The three approaches can be integrated. The personality, style and character of the leader, historical analogies of war, as well as groupthink maintains that the decisions of a leader should stem from the thoughts, opinions and beliefs, and emotions, as well. The objectives of these approaches are to make decisions that are sensitive to the situation, and with minimal external influence. The justification of any decision should not be an individual opinion, but a collection of different opinions that will ensure that the decision executed is equivocal. In addition, the theories demonstrate the presidency as an institution that is made up of different organs that should be harmonized. Furthermore, the approaches highlight communication as the cornerstone of any decision making process. As such, the governing administration should engage different aspects in their decisions to minimize future threats. The similarities reveal that the integration of the approaches will yield a model that will guide the presidency in making future decisions that are of immense significance to the state.

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