v8n2_09 - Kosovo 1999: Clinton, Coercive Diplomacy, and the...

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Kosovo 1999: Clinton, Coercive Diplomacy, and the Use of Analogies in Decision Making T he purpose of this article is to investigate and assess the role of analogical thinking, and the “Bosnia analogy” in particular, in steering the Clinton administration toward a strategy of coercive diplomacy during the crisis in Kosovo in 1998. It is our thesis that, throughout the decision-making process, key administration figures used a variety of analogies to frame the Kosovo crisis, which prompted advocacy of conflicting policy options. Specifically, activists like Madeleine Albright and Wesley Clark pushed for a full military option to complement diplomatic efforts, evoking the lessons of Bosnia as justification. On the other hand, minimalists like William Cohen and Sandy Berger invoked images of Vietnam and Somalia to keep US involvement to a minimum. Ultimately, it would appear that the Bosnia analogy prevailed, leading the Clinton administration to launch a military campaign limited to high-altitude strategic bombing, as seen in 1995. Building on previous studies of American decision making and military actions in the Kosovo war of 1999, we will expand on the idea that the administration’s determination not to commit US ground troops to combat operations was partially responsible for the unforeseen duration of the war. 1 However, our own analysis will suggest that this stance stemmed more from a lag in the decision-making process, caused by an over-reliance on images from Bosnia prior to the military campaign, than from fears of seeing a Vietnam or Somalia repeated in the Balkans. In order to assess the importance of analogies in the decision-making process, both prior to and during NATO’s aerial campaign against Yugoslavia, we will use an analytic model developed by Yuen Foong Khong in his 1992 book, Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decision of 1965 . 2 Khong labels his model of analogical reasoning the “AE framework.” In our opinion it goes a long way towards explaining how analogies operate cognitively and clarify the consequences for decision making. In the first part of this article, we will revisit the AE framework, describe its basic tenets, and describe how analogies typically influence decision making and Sébastien Barthe is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of Québec at Montréal and a research fellow at the Center. Charles-Philippe David is Raoul Dandurand Professor of Strategic and Diplomatic Studies and Director of the Center for United States Studies at the University of Québec at Montréal. The authors wish to thank Professor Yael Aronoff from Hamilton College, and all the staff at the Raoul Dandurand Chair, for their helpful comments on previous versions of this text. 85
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v8n2_09 - Kosovo 1999: Clinton, Coercive Diplomacy, and the...

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