Essence of Victory: Winning and Losing International Crises
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Publisher:Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies
Perceptions of victory and defeat in international crises, regardless of the reality, can make or break political careers, destroy or solidify alliances, and produce a distribution of praise and blame that endures long into the future. On the face of it, evaluating the winning and losing states in crises often seems a straightforward question – winning results from achieving one's aims and gaining tangible benefits in the final settlement or outcome. This talk will argue, however, that people's beliefs about which country has won or lost can be influenced as much by perceptions and misperceptions of the crisis, as they are by the actual reality of the final outcome. The talk, based on a forthcoming article in Security Studies, will focus on how evaluations of which side had won and lost the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis were distorted by a triad of influences: prior biases; the particular evolution of the crisis itself; and the deliberate manipulation of opinion. The talk will show how this new framework of understanding victory and defeat can be applied to perceptions of a number of other crises and wars, including the 1968 Tet offensive, the 1973 Yom Kippur war, and the recurrent crises with North Korea since the early 1990s. Understanding these sources of bias is vital for policy-makers who wish to hold on to power during and after crises, and for the public and media, if they are to hold their leaders accountable.
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Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies