Risk and Resolution: The Influence of Presidential Personality Predispositions on Military Disengagement Decisions
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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America repeatedly finds itself mired in military interventions long after public buy-in to the national interest has waned. Why is the timely disengagement of military forces so difficult to achieve International relations theories tend to cluster around variations on realist or idealist philosophies, both of which diminish the role of the individual leader in favor of the state or international institutions. Behavioral science theorists who consider psychological factors such as the personalities of a countrys leaders to be instrumental in endgame decision-making have in recent years experienced a resurgence. However, the dominant behavioral explanation of foreign policy decision-making, prospect theory, while it focuses on how individuals tend to make decisions under risk, still minimizes the influence of the individual president as the ultimate decider. This dissertation argues that decisions to disengage military forces are presidential decisions, just like the decisions to commit forces to foreign interventions. If we accept this, then it is important to understand if, and if so why, some Presidents inherently are more or less acceptant of the risks disengagement presents. This dissertation operationalizes a competing personality-based model of decision-making under risk. Referred to here as the trait-based model, it is assessed using disengagement opportunities in three varied levels of military intervention across four presidencies humanitarian relief cum nation-building under George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton in Somalia compellent air campaigns cum peace-makingkeeping in Bosnia and Kosovo under Clinton and major combat operations cum irregular warfare in Iraq under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Data for the model predominantly comes from existing presidential personality profiles based on the dominant model of personality theory, the Five Factor Model, augmented by Myers-Briggs Type Inventory data from public sources.
- Administration and Management
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics