Images of Inherited War
Three American Presidents in Vietnam
The presidencies of Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon are examined through the lens of image and cognitive theory to help answer the question of how their perceptions (which often can create their own reality) of the Vietnam War affected their agendas and the outcomes of the war that each inherited. By examining Vietnam in the context of presidential image—how presidents filter events based on the unique experiences they bring to office—it is the author’s hope that a broader conceptualization of “war as inheritance” will emerge. Ultimately, this study may help minimize current and future cognitive pitfalls in the development and execution of grand strategy, particularly when policy makers face the daunting challenge of inherited war.
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