National security and institutional pathologies: a path dependent analysis of U.S. interventions in Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, and Iraq
Thompson, Matthew K.
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U.S. covert interventions in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), and Cuba (1961) represent one path dependent event sequence whereby institutions adopted pathological characteristics that carried the U.S. national security apparatus into the failed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Likewise, the U.S. overt intervention in Iraq (2003) represents a similar institutionally driven event sequence that carried the United States to war with Iraq under dubious justification. Through analyzing systemic factors that influenced policy formulation prior to and during the Eisenhower and Bush administrations, I argue that sufficient evidence exists to suggest that institutions developed based largely on ideologically driven threat perceptions of communism and terrorism negatively influenced policy formulation and contributed to undesirable outcomes in both event chains. Agency driven shifts in national security institutions to achieve ideologically based objectives during each administration drove U.S. foreign policy outside of previously institutionalized procedures by seizing upon opportunity structures created during periods of national fear stemming from salient political environments plagued with excessive communist and terrorist threat perceptions and rhetoric. Understanding how institutional path dependent factors converged in each of these cases may shed light on how to prevent such foreign policy missteps in the future.
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