Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Political Argumentation

Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Political Argumentation

Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Political Argumentation

Foreign Policy Decision-Making: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Political Argumentation

Synopsis

This book investigates how politicians, in order to convince their audiences, argue about preferences for different courses of action. The qualitative and quantitative studies presented here are based on written records and deal with a variety of foreign policy issues, countries, and political regimes. Examining the argumentation employed by Hitler and Kennedy to ministers of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the authors conclude that only six basic forms of persuasion seem to be used and understood by politicians and their audiences, and that these same approaches are used almost irrespective of the political situation. This fascinating study of political argumentation will be of interest to scholars of political communication, rhetoric, political science, and international relations.

Excerpt

Our interest in the study of political decision-making originated a long time ago, when one of the authors of this book (Gallhofer 1968) wrote her Ph.D. thesis on negotiations to bring about a peace treaty between the king of France and Emperor Charles V of the Habsburg empire in the sixteenth century. The study was carried out as a historical case study, and was not capable of summarizing in a comprehensive way the detailed arguments encountered in the documents with respect to the chances of success of the various strategies considered by the decision-makers.

Not satisfied with this description, the first author consulted the second author of this book about further possibilities for studying the decision-making arguments. The second author had recently taken a course on mathematical decision- making at the Mathematical Centre in Amsterdam. Given the social science tradition of carrying out systematic empirical research based on theoretical grounds, he suggested applying decision theoretical concepts to the study of documents on political decision-making. The idea was that such theoretical notions should apply to foreign policy decisions if to any decisions, since the decision-makers have to consider different strategies and their possible consequences.

Before a long-term study was started, a test of the approach using decision theoretical concepts and models was carried out on the sixteenth century historical data concerning the decision-making of Charles V (Saris and Gallhofer 1975). This study was very illuminating, and offered considerable insights into how one would have to conduct further systematic research in this field. It was clear from this study that the decision-makers were speaking in terms of strategies, consequences, values, and probabilities. This means that the basic concepts turned out to be very useful. We were even overoptimistic about the application of rational choice models to describe people's political decision-

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