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National Security through a Cockeyed Lens

How Cognitive Bias Impacts U.S. Foreign Policy

Steve A. Yetiv

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How poor decision making hurts U.S. national security.

"How do mental errors or cognitive biases undermine good decision making?" This is the question Steve A. Yetiv takes up in his latest foreign policy study, National Security through a Cockeyed Lens.

Yetiv draws on four decades of psychological, historical, and political science research on cognitive biases to illuminate some of the key pitfalls in our leaders’ decision-making processes and some of the mental errors we make in perceiving ourselves and the world.

Tracing five U.S. national security episodes—the 1979 Soviet invasion and…

How poor decision making hurts U.S. national security.

"How do mental errors or cognitive biases undermine good decision making?" This is the question Steve A. Yetiv takes up in his latest foreign policy study, National Security through a Cockeyed Lens.

Yetiv draws on four decades of psychological, historical, and political science research on cognitive biases to illuminate some of the key pitfalls in our leaders’ decision-making processes and some of the mental errors we make in perceiving ourselves and the world.

Tracing five U.S. national security episodes—the 1979 Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan; the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration; the rise of al-Qaeda, leading to the 9/11 attacks; the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq; and the development of U.S. energy policy—Yetiv reveals how a dozen cognitive biases have been more influential in impacting U.S. national security than commonly believed or understood.

Identifying a primary bias in each episode—disconnect of perception versus reality, tunnel vision ("focus feature"), distorted perception ("cockeyed lens"), overconfidence, and short-term thinking—Yetiv explains how each bias drove the decision-making process and what the outcomes were for the various actors. His concluding chapter examines a range of debiasing techniques, exploring how they can improve decision making.

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National Security through a Cockeyed Lens

Steve A. Yetiv

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Reviews

This provides an American foreign policy expert's survey of security studies and new methods of analyzing and understanding international politics. Highly recommended for any college-level political science collection!

National Security through a Cockeyed Lens is an interesting read for anyone seeking to understand how seemingly poor decisions can be made at critical junctures.

National Security through a Cockeyed Lens serves as a seminal work, instructive for scholars and decision makers alike... Yetiv's volume could be one of the key books for presidents and their advisers to read before they begin making decisions...

The principles in this book deserve wide recognition. Yetiv places necessary focus on lapses in decision making that are important to acknowledge.

Steve Yetiv is an expert in American foreign policy, security studies, and interdisciplinary approaches toward international politics. He is the ideal person to write this particular book, which applies political psychology to the study of decision processes.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
168
ISBN
9781421411255
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: When Psychology Meets Decision Making
1. Afghanistan and Conflict: Intention and Threat Perception
2. President Reagan and Iran-Contra: Focus Feature
3. Radical Terrorism: A

Acknowledgments
Introduction: When Psychology Meets Decision Making
1. Afghanistan and Conflict: Intention and Threat Perception
2. President Reagan and Iran-Contra: Focus Feature
3. Radical Terrorism: A Cockeyed Lens
4. The 2003 Invasion of Iraq: A War of Overconfidence
5. U.S. Energy Policy: Short-Term Bias
Conclusion: Making Better Decisions
Glossary
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Steve A. Yetiv

Steve A. Yetiv is a professor of political science at Old Dominion University and author of The Absence of Grand Strategy: The United States in the Persian Gulf, 1972–2005 and Explaining Foreign Policy: U.S. Decision-Making in the Gulf Wars, both published by Johns Hopkins.
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