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Alternatives to Realism and Idealism

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Decision Making Models
Lsn 5
Agenda
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Rational actor
Bureaucratic process
Organizational process
Small group
Elitist
Pluralist
Social constructivism
Prospect
Poliheuristic
Case Study: Cuban Missile Crisis
Decision-making
• Why understanding decision-making is difficult…
– No single decision-making process exists
– Decisions are seldom final and tend to lack concrete
beginning and ending points
– There is an imperfect link between the policy process
and the policy outcome
• Thus any decision-making model is likely to
oversimplify the problem
• Still models offer analytical tools which can be
combined to provide useful insights
Rational Actor Model
• Foreign policy is viewed as a calculated
response to the actions of another actor
• That causes a calculated response from
the first actor which leads to reevaluation
and readjustment by the second actor
• Throughout this process, the state is seen
as unitary and rational
– Domestic politics, governmental organization,
and personalities are discounted
Rational Actor Model
• Goals are clearly stated
and ranked in order of
preference
• All options are considered
• The consequences of
each option are assessed
• A value-maximizing code
is made
• A very useful tool during
the Cold War
Rational Actor Model
Factor
COA 1
COA 2
COA 3
COA 4
COA 5
Factor
Factor
Factor
Total
Rational Actor Model
Cost
USM
U of M
State
JCJC
PRCC
Major
Social
Life
Close
to
home
Total
Rational Actor Model
• In the rational actor model, decisions are based
on the pursuit of national interests at reasonable
costs or risks
• It’s attractiveness is that it places few
informational demands on the observer
• It’s criticism is based on the same fact and the
realization that decision-making is much more
complicated than just weighing external factors
– Domestic, personality, and organizational influences
all have an impact
Rational Actor Model
• The model assumes “important events
have important consequences”
– Downplays the role of chance, accident, and
coincidence
– Clausewitz’s “fog of war”
– In reality goals are seldom clearly stated and
rank ordered, and options are often not fully
evaluated
Rational Actor Model
• Nonrational factors
– Threat perception
• Determining threat capabilities and intents
• Dangers of “worst-case analysis” and “wishful
thinking”
– Specific and cumulative historical experiences
– Xenophobia
– Personal present circumstances
• “Where you stand depends on where you sit”
– Groupthink
Bureaucratic Politics Model
• Bureaucratic politics is the “process by
which people inside government bargain
with one another on complex public policy
questions”
• This model sees decisions as being the
product of conflict-resolution rather than
problem solving
Bureaucratic Politics Model
• Power is shared
• The individuals who share power disagree on
what should be done because they are located
at different places in the government and see
different aspects of the problem
– The Secretary of State may view a problem primarily
from the diplomatic perspective while the Secretary of
Defense has a different view because his troops may
be used while the President must also concern
himself with domestic fallout
Bureaucratic Politics Model
• Rarely do problems
enter or leave the policy
process in a clearly
definable manner
• They get entangled with
other issues
• Not everyone
participates in every
problem
Bureaucratic Politics Model
• Therefore some underlying concept of
national interest is not how decisions are
made
• How the problem first surfaces and how it
interacts with other issues greatly
determines how the decision will be made
Organizational Politics Model
• Because time is short to do a lot of
bargaining, many decisions are based on
existing organizational standard operating
procedures (SOPs)
• Governments are complex entities
consisting of large organizations among
which responsibilities for particular areas
are divided
Organizational Politics Model
• Governments are not monolithic
– They are merely constellations of loosely
allied organizations on top of which the
government leaders sit
– The constellation acts only as component
organizations perform routines
• In order to coordinate the behaviors of
large numbers of individuals performing
these routines, SOPs are used
Organizational Politics Model
• Therefore decisions within the
organization are largely determined by
routines established by SOPs before the
particular instance or problem even occurs
• To ensure predictable performance, the
“standards” are often limited, unduly
formalized, and sluggish
• They may also be inappropriate
Organizational Politics Model
• The inflexible and blunt nature
of these routines and
procedures reinforces the
tendency to accept change
only around the margins
• If the problem is non-standard
and an existing SOP is not
available, the organization is
forced to undergo the painful
search for a new SOP
Small Group Model
• Many decisions are made by neither an
individual or a large organization
• Advantages over the bureaucratic model might
include
– Fewer opinions to reconcile and therefore fewer
significant conflicts
– A free and open exchange because there will be no
organizational interests to protect
– Swift and decisive action
– Possible innovation and experimentation
– The possibility of maintaining secrecy
Small Group Model
• Types of small groups
– Informal group that meets regularly but lacks
a formal institution base
– An ad hoc group created to respond to a
specific problem
– A permanent group with an institutional base
created to perform a series of specified
functions
Small Group Model
• Dangers of the small group model
– Groupthink: the “deterioration of mental efficiency,
reality testing, and moral judgment” that increases the
likelihood of the group’s making a potentially defective
decision
– Tips to avoid groupthink
• Encourage impartial and wide-ranging discussions of
alternatives
• Establish multiple groups for the same task
• Appoint a “devil’s advocate”
• Schedule a “second chance” meeting to reconsider decisions
one final time
Elite Model
• Vitally concerned with the identities of
those who make foreign policy and
the underlying dynamics of national
power, social myth, and class
interests
Elite Model
• Foreign policy is made as a
response to demands
generated by the economic
and political system
– Not all demands receive equal
attention and those that receive
the most attention serve the
interests of only a small sector
of society
– Special interests are
transformed into national
interests
John Conyers and other
members of the
Congressional Black
Caucus had a significant
impact on President
Clinton’s decision to
intervene in Haiti
Elite Model
• Those outside of the elite are relatively
powerless
• Public reactions are often “orchestrated”
by the elite rather than being expressions
of independent thinking
• Stresses the ties that bind policy makers
together rather than the issues that
separate them
Pluralism Model
• Power is fragmented and diffused
• Many groups in society have power
to participate in policy making
• No one group is powerful enough to
dictate policy
• An equilibrium among groups is the
natural state of affairs
• Policy is the product of bargaining
between groups and reflects the
interest of the dominant group(s)
• The government acts as an umpire,
supervising the competition and
sometimes compelling a settlement.
Pluralism Model
• Power resources are not evenly distributed
throughout society and merely possessing
the attributes of power does not necessarily
equate to actually possessing power itself
– Power resources may be substituted for one
another
• Numbers can offset wealth
• Leadership can offset numbers
• Commitment can overcome poor leadership
• etc
Social Constructivism
• Seeks to understand
how it was possible to
imagine certain
courses of action and
relationships as being
possible in the first
place
• What social practices
enabled people to act,
frame policies as they
did, and wield power
as they did
How did Manuel Noriega
become redefined from an
anticommunist ally to a drug
dealer, thus making the
invasion of Panama possible?
Prospect
• Individuals do not weigh all outcomes and select
the strategy that will offer the highest expected
utility
• Instead they tend to value what they have more
than what they do not have
– Leads them to value the status quo and be risk
adverse with respect to gains and risk accepting
when it comes to losses
• Take more risks to defend the state’s international
position than to enhance it
• After a loss, take excessive risks to recover their
position
Poliheuristic
• Policy makers adopt more than one decision
rule in making foreign policy decisions
• Begin with an “avoid a major loss principle” that
stresses the importance of domestic
considerations in surveying initial options
• Then evaluate the remaining options in terms of
what offers the best net gain in terms of values
they hold to be most important
Integration
• As an analytical tool, models can be
combined by:
– Shifting from model to model as the focus of
the analysis changes
• Pluralist and bureaucratic models help explain why
policy makers act as they do once they are “in
place,” but tell us little about how they got there
• Elitist and rational actor would offer better insights
on how the actors arrived at the values they bring
to bear in addressing a problem
Integration (cont)
• As an analytical tool, models can be
combined by:
– Recognizing that some models are more
appropriate for analyzing some problems or
issue areas than others
• The more open the policy process and the longer
the agenda is on the policy agenda, the more
useful will be the bureaucratic and pluralistic
models
• The more closed the process and quicker the
response, the more useful will be the rational actor,
elite, and small group models
Integration (cont)
• As an analytical tool, models can be combined
by:
– Shifting from one model to another as the policy
develops over time
• Rational actor to analyze US entry into Vietnam
• Bureaucratic to analyze key decisions during the course of
the war
• Pluralist to analyze the decision to withdraw
– Picking the model based on the values that guide
one’s analysis
• Be careful about assumptions though
Case Study
Cuban Missile Crisis
Fidel Castro
• In 1959 Fidel Castro was
able to mobilize the
disaffected rural peasants
in Cuba and topple
Fulgencio Batista’s USsupported and
anticommunist regime
• Castro assumed
dictatorial powers and
announced his goal was
to create a society based
on Marxist principles
A Cuban crowd listens to Castro
after his takeover
Bay of Pigs
• The US could not accept the
presence of a revolutionary
Marxist government so close to
its borders and President
Eisenhower authorized planning
for a force of anti-Castro
Cubans to invade Cuba and
overthrow Castro
• When Kennedy became
president he authorized the
invasion but stipulated that the
US not be involved in the
landing itself
Bay of Pigs
• The invasion took place at the
Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and
proved to be a disaster
• Instead of rallying to the
invaders, the local population
supported the Castro
government
• The failure embarrassed the
US and weakened President
Kennedy in the eyes of the
Soviet Union
– However, it strengthened
Kennedy’s personal
resolve to act more
vigorously in any future
crisis
Castro helping to repel the
invasion
Cuban Missile Crisis
• Castro feared the US
would try again to
overthrow him and he
called for additional support
from the Soviet Union
• Soviet Premier Nikita
Khrushchev responded by
sending medium-range
bombers and missiles to
Cuba to help defend Castro
and threaten the US
• In Oct 1962, US spy planes
discovered missile sites
under construction in Cuba
Map used to brief the range of missiles
and bombers being deployed to Cuba.
Kennedy’s Response
• Kennedy
responded
decisively,
demanding that the
Soviets remove the
missiles and
bombers or face
their destruction by
air strikes or
invasion
• He also imposed a
naval “quarantine”
of Cuba
Quarantine
The US destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy stops, boards, and inspects a dry-cargo
ship of Lebanese registry under Soviet charter to Cuba on Oct 26, 1962
US Victory
• On Oct 28,
Khrushchev agreed
to remove the
missiles
• “Eyeball to eyeball,
they blinked first.”
– Dean Rusk, US
Secretary of State
• It was a major Cold
War victory for the
US and a major
loss of face for the
Soviet Union and
Khrushchev
1962 British cartoon showing Kennedy and
Khrushchev arm wrestling on top of
nuclear weapons
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
• The Rational Actor
Model
– Kennedy considered six
options
• Do nothing
• Diplomatic pressures
• A secret approach to
Castro
• Invasion
• Surgical air strike
• Blockade
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
• After considering the pros and cons of
each action, Kennedy chose the blockade
because it had the comparative
advantages of:
– Being a middle course between inaction and
attack– aggressive enough to communicate
firmness of intention, but not so precipitous as
a strike
– It placed the burden of choice as to the next
step squarely on Khrushchev
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
– No possible military
confrontation could be
more acceptable to the
US than a naval
confrontation in the
Caribbean
– By flexing its
conventional muscle,
the US could exploit
the threat of
subsequent nonnuclear steps in each
of which the US would
have significant
superiority
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
• The Organizational Process Model
– Many describe the Soviet placement of
missiles on Cuba as an “intelligence failure”
for the US
– The available intelligence was the product of
established routines and procedures of the
organizations that constitute the US
intelligence community
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
– On Sept 19 the US Intelligence Board (USIB)
concluded that the Soviet Union would not
introduce offensive missiles to Cuba
– In fact, on Sept 12 a CIA agent had observed
the rear profile of a strategic missile, but
transmission time to Washington of such
information routinely took 9 to 12 days and
was not available for the USIB to consider
• Decreasing the transmission time would impose
severe cost in terms of danger to subagents,
agents, and communication networks
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
– On Oct 4, the decision was made to conduct a special
flight over west Cuba
• The USAF and the CIA squabbled over who should
perform the flight
• The USAF argued that the increased danger of the
U-2 being shot down necessitated a uniformed
rather than a CIA pilot
• The CIA countered that as an intelligence flight, the
operation lay within its jurisdiction and its U-2s had
been modified in ways the USAF’s planes had not
been in order to decrease their likelihood of being
shot down
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
– The State Dept
joined the argument
suggesting less risky
alternatives such as
drones
– After 10 days it was
finally decided that
USAF pilots would
be trained to fly the
CIA planes and
conduct the mission
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
• The Organizational Process Model also
impacted the discussion of options
– The Navy saw issue as implementing the
blockade without meddling and interference
from political leaders
– The President wanted to manage the pace of
operations in order to give the Soviets time to
see, think, and blink
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
– Trying to slow the Navy down in response to
President Kennedy’s concerns, Secretary of Defense
McNamara asked Chief of Naval Operations Admiral
George Anderson a series of “what if?’ questions
– Anderson picked up the Manual of Navy Regulations,
waved it in McNamara’s face, and shouted, “It’s all in
there.”
– McNamara replied, “I don’t give a damn what John
Paul Jones would have done; I want to know what
you are going to do, now.”
– The argument concluded with Anderson saying, “Now,
Mr. Secretary, if you and your Deputy will go back to
your office the Navy will run the blockade.”
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
• The Elite Model
– Cuba was Kennedy’s “political Achilles heel”
– The Bay of Pigs had left Kennedy looking weak
– Khrushchev had directly challenged Kennedy where
he knew the President was most vulnerable after
assuring him he wouldn’t
• “He can’t do that to me!”
– Republican Congressional leaders had already
announced that Cuba would be “the dominant issue
of the 1962 campaign”
– All these factors made the “do nothing” option
personally unpalatable for Kennedy
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
• Small Group Model
– President Kennedy
convened the
Executive Committee
of the National Security
Council (EXCOM) to
advise him on the
Cuban Missile Crisis
– The EXCOMM was
formally established by
National Security
Action Memorandum
196 on Oct 22, 1962
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
• National Security Council Members
– John Kennedy President
– Lyndon Johnson, Vice President
– Dean Rusk, Secretary of State
– C. Douglas Dillon, Secretary of the Treasury
– Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense
– Robert Kennedy, Attorney General
– McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor
– John McCone, Director of Central Intelligence
– Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
• Other members
– George Ball, Under Secretary of State for
Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs
– Llewellyn Thompson, Ambassadior to the
Soviet Union
– Roswell Gilpatric, Deputy Secretary of
Defense
– Ted Sorensen, Special Counsel to the
President
Cuban Missile Crisis Decision
Making
– Robert Kennedy
recalled, “The fourteen
people involved were
very significant… If six
of them had been
President of the US, I
think that the world
might have been blown
up.”
Next
• Traditional Actors and Other Actors
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