When the Cold War Turned Hot: Judging Dean Acheson's Judgment

By:
Dr. Taifa Yu
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Several decision makers involved in the decision-making process that culminated in a major fiasco recognized they "overinterpreted" or "misinterpreted" the Soviet objectives and role in the Korean War. Dean Acheson, who played a pivotal role in the decision-making process, admitted his "mistaken beliefs" about the Soviet Union led him to misinterpret its "sinister design" — only in retrospect and after a death toll that exceeded one million! His and other decision makers' misinterpretation also resulted in the overreaction of the U.S. to the event and the militarization of the U.S. approach to the Cold War that, in their view, just turned hot. Misjudgement is rife in international relations, and overreaction undertheorized. Decision makers invariably interpret events on the basis of existing beliefs and expectancy to draw inferences, some of which are "mistaken". This study albeit focusing on Dean Acheson and his beliefs draw on social psychology theories about beliefs, schema, magnitude of attitudinal change, and judgment to explain psychological dynamics that underpins "misinterpretation" and overreaction in world affairs.


Keywords: Beliefs, Misinterpretation, Judgment, Overreactions, Korean War
Stream: Political Science, Politics
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Taifa Yu

Associate professor, Political Science Department, University of Northern Iowa
USA

Ph.D in government and international studies from University of South Carolina in 1988. Teaching East Asia politics, international relations, comparative foreign policies, and Nonwestern culture: China at the University of Northern Iowa. Research interests include relations between China and Taiwan, U.S. foreign policy, and foreign/defense policies of China and Japan.

Ref: H05P0353