8 November 2010
Historical analogies are a variety of analogy often used by politicians and diplomats to explain or make a prediction about a current or future event based on ideas or events in the past. The past event is used as a source, while the present or future situation is the target of the analogy. Reasoning by historical analogy has played a significant role in the formulation and implementation of US foreign policy since the end of World War II, especially on matters involving consideration or actual use of force. States, like individuals, make decisions based at least in part on past experience, or, more specifically, what they believe past experience teaches. During the activities of the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, President George H. W. Bush, Sr. and Senator John Kerry used historical analogy to predict the upcoming events and future assessments of the crisis in the Persian Gulf. Using the successful and not so successful lessons learned from the Vietnam War and situations prior to that as background, Bush and Kerry apply knowledge of the past to asses and justify their positions. The Vietnam War had profound impact on America in many ways. Many important lessons can be taken from the conflicts as a whole. The first lesson that can be taken from historical analogy is that of patience. The more the U.S. waited to tend to the foreign affairs in Japan, Italy, and Germany, the stronger those powers became, allowing only major war to stop them. President Georgia H. W. Bush, Sr. was quoted during a speech to the Department of Defense, “A half century ago our nation and the world paid dearly for appeasing an aggressor who should and could have been stopped. We’re not about to make that mistake twice” (159). President Bush was referring to the issues concerning Adolph Hitler, and relating them back to the Persian Gulf War. When assessing the possibility of joining allied forces in the Persian Gulf War,...
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