Constructivism: logic of appropriateness vs. consequences; what is appropriate is
internalised by decision makers. Start with emotion- feel good factor: trying to live in comfort,
to decrease dissonances. Engine behind the persuasion/ confusion about norms. IR
scholarship usually doesn’t start with emotion. Last 50 years- marginalised because
tendency to say that we cannot open a brain; impossible to study decision makers best we
can do is make educated guesses. Even if we got an honest decision maker to write
memoirs and contribute the structure about ther decision makers; it’s still only guesses.
Decision makers’ memoirs written in a certain way so that they will be trusted- between the
reality and what decision makers want to be seen as- large gap between the two. DM have a
specific vision of what they have done. G.W.B: reasoned why he entered Iraq. First instinct
of political science says it is impossible to understand.
Belief systems, cognition, emotion are marginally important. Attributes are only important
when we want to understand something irrational. PolSci studies the rational. Logic of small
groups and of government organisation in decision making. Cuba in crisis; one of the rare
instances where we have minute-by-minute records of what happened.
1. Rational-choice model: maximisation of an expected utiltity. You select a goal,
analyse your options, and you maximise your expectations. Essence is to select a
goal. Formal model. All the information is easily accessible, perfect information.
Options are well understood and expected utility Is well-grasped. You have all the
time in the world to make your calculus. In real life- none of this exists. But the model
helps us to understand the logic of cooperation.
2. The limits of individual decision-makers. They pick the option the satisfies them- not
maximisation, difference is that you do not have a calculus- satisfaction you just pick
the first one which you deem satisfactory.
3. Two different ways to look at irrationality- utility or preferences. Utility: rational choice
model makes an assumption about the capacity to attach an expected utility to a
potential outcome. Task becomes nearly impossible when you take into account
intangible factors. The uncertainty principle; all the unknowns and know unknowns.
Perception of the threat, calculate strength, ally- wide range of options to balance threat:
bandwagon, hide and hope there will be no consequences of your non-decision, pass the
buck to another state who will defend or counter the threat, free-ride. Calculate
consequences of that choice for you enemy.
What we have is more important than what we could get- take much more risk with possible
gains than losses.
Utility, even if we can put quantity on it, people do not have a very rational way to make
Creation of own preferences- why you want to pursue that goal. Jervis- beliefs are important
in choosing what we want to pursue. If value-charged, then flexibility decreases. The images
we cultivate about another actor are resistant to change- once a belief system is created, is difficult to change or modify it because it brings it out of comfort. Have to re-assess your
fundamental assumption. Slow process to accept and act accordingly that this image of the
enemy is modified. First thing to do is to perceive something from out original viewpoint.
Bush was presented the grand bargain 3 times- Iran was ready to put nuclear programme on
hold and resist the threat of terrorism on the condition that US did not invade them.
Disagreed because images of extremist regime was so strong that this was interpreted as
something else. When you have a belief system linked to the image of a state, it is hard to
change- hence the length of time in evolution of relations between states. Absence of
flexibility. How quick a change can happen, when it finally does- tipping point.
Uncertainty- use of analogies to see what the last cases can tell you. Very powerful shortcut
for DM. can make the case that Obama is the same as LBJ in Vietnam- analogy is strong
because it gives you the actual behaviour that you need to adopt, not just references- gives
you the actual policies you need to follow.
Look at personalities of DM, too. May praise those who are open, flexible, but these
characteristics lead to slow DM- Obama. Those who are inflexible seem negative and yet
this is much faster- Churchill.
Small Group Dynamics- group sync: you have an illusion of majority in a group of advisors.
Self-censorship, relation to authority, fear or isolation, excessive optimism: first potential
option which is aired in the group is the perfect one- nobody wants to oppose it . If you are
against it, you don’t say because you don’t want to be the spoiler and so won’t air your
remarks. This is probably what happened in GWB
The Bureaucratic DM Procedure: fundamentally different in one key respect- they don’t have
a group/purpose. Don’t do things because you want to, you do it because you did it last
week. Standard operating procedures. What you do now is best explained in the past
because that’s the standard operating procedure. No Intention. Just did it because it was a
Cuba- distinction between rational choice, governmental politics (different coalitional
prefences)- the more we know about the CMC, the better we understand what the rational
choice model can do and not do.
The role of fear in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Few instances where we have as much