Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq (The American Moment)

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9780801891236: Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq (The American Moment)
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Following World War II, Americans expected that the United States would wage another major war against a superpower. Instead, the nation has fought limited wars against much weaker states, such as North Korea, North Vietnam, and Iraq. This revised and updated edition of Presidential Decisions for War analyzes the means by which four presidents have taken the nation to war and assesses the effectiveness of each president's leadership during those conflicts.

Gary Hess recreates the unfolding crises in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq to probe the reasons why Presidents Truman, Johnson, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush and their advisors decided in favor of war. He compares the performance of the commanders-in-chief and evaluates how effectively each understood U.S. interests, explored alternatives to war, adhered to constitutional processes, and built congressional, popular, and international support. A new conclusion points out, that unlike the administrations of Truman, Johnson, and the elder Bush, George W. Bush's White House actively sought to change the international order through preemptive war and aggressive democracy building.

Fully revised and featuring an examination of how each of the presidents learned from history and juggled the demands on diplomacy, this comparative study of presidential war-making elucidates how effective executive leadership―or its absence―directly affects the outcome of wars.

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About the Author:

Gary R. Hess is a Distinguished Research Professor of History at Bowling Green State University. His published works include The United States at War, 1941-1945; Vietnam and the United States: Origins and Legacy of War; The United States' Emergence as a Southeast Asia Power, 1940-1950; and America Encounters India, 1941-1947.

Review:

"Hess's writing is clear, each chapter is sharply focused, and his comparisons are deft, all of which we have a right to expect from an historian of his stature."

--Warren I. Cohen "International History Review "

"A solid work... Hess has packaged three historical vignettes in a thorough, concise, and readable primer on wartime presidential leadership."

--Dan Koprowski "Historian "

"This book admirably introduces an historical cross-analysis that allows some assessment of US leadership during these critical times."

--Virginia Quarterly Review

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