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Leaders at WarHow Presidents Shape Military Interventions$
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Elizabeth N. Saunders

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449222

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449222.001.0001

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John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

(p.92) 4 John F. Kennedy
Leaders at War

Elizabeth N. Saunders

Cornell University Press

This chapter argues that President John F. Kennedy held strong beliefs that located the source of threats in the internal institutions of other states. Even before reaching the Oval Office, Kennedy saw not only communist regimes but also repressive anticommunist dictatorships as potentially threatening. As president, he immediately began to invest forcefully in transformative strategies. The chapter begins by establishing Kennedy's beliefs about the origin of threats. It then discusses his major intervention decisions, including his policies on Latin America, Laos, and Vietnam. His focus on domestic characteristics made him a discriminating intervener. He accepted a neutralist settlement in Laos but initiated a counterinsurgency war in Vietnam.

Keywords:   foreign policy, intervention decision making, military intevention threats, John F. Kennedy, causal beliefs, Vietnam, Laos, Latin America

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