Air War - Desert Storm

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Are they cognitive tools used for making sense of a complex world, or simply ex-post mechanisms which decision-makers employ with the sole intention of convincing their colleagues of the appropriateness of a pre-set course of action? The first political science author to reflect upon analogizing as an explicitly psychological process was Robert Jervis, who devotes a chapter of his Perception and Misperception in International Politics to the use of history by decision-makers, and almost all recent work in the field of analogizing has taken its inspiration from him.

For instance, the recency and vividness of the successful Entebbe and Mogadishu rescue missions made them especially available cognitively to the American decisionmakers, and the Entebbe analogy, in particular, played a notable role in persuading them that the risks inherent in the rescue operation were ones worth taking. This is suggested by its effect upon the leading advocate of the Tehran mission – National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski – by the consultations which went on at the outset of the crisis between the Carter administration and the Israelis, by the 17 US foreign policy and the Iran hostage crisis attempts the rescue planners made to ‘overcome’ the differences between Tehran and Entebbe and by the even more explicit effect of Entebbe upon plans for a second rescue mission.

90. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, ‘Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and 27 Ibid. Biases’, Science, 185: 1124–31, 1974. 29 US foreign policy and the Iran hostage crisis frequently than other events, since the more often the event occurs the greater the statistical likelihood that it will occur in the future; and yet the availability of an event in memory can be influenced by factors which are totally unrelated to the objective frequency with which it occurs. It may be accessed because it is especially salient, or simply because it has occurred recently.

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