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Painful Choices by David A. Welch

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Chapter 4

AMERICAN BOYS IN AN ASIAN WAR

IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER, I attempted to assess the performance of the theory in a comparison of two independent cases. While the comparison was not a wholly static one—it was necessary to delve into the histories of both, if briefly, to understand the events, or lack of events, at crucial moments—I did not dwell on longitudinal endogeneities. How well does the theory work in the security domain within a single case exhibiting more than one dramatic policy change? Do path dependencies play a role? If so, what can we learn from them?

In this chapter, I explore these questions by looking at American policy in the Vietnam War. This case commends itself to the purpose for several reasons. First, the Vietnam ...

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