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National Security through a Cockeyed Lens: How Cognitive Bias Impacts U.S. Foreign Policy

by Steve A Yetiv Johns Hopkins University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 168 pages
AU$59.99 NZ$63.47
Product Status: Out of stock. Not available to order.
& Academics:
'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 policyYetiv 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.

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

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

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.