The Impact Of Public Opinion On U.S. Foreign Policy Since Vietnam

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Since the Vietnam War, the public's opinion has played major roles in how policymakers operate. Their opinions may not always support to choices which are best for the country, however they are still factored into the decision making. Richard Sobel discusses several cases on how the public's attitudes have affected policymaker's decisions in his book, "The Impact of Public Opinion on U.S. Foreign Policy Since Vietnam."

During the Persian Gulf War, public opinion ultimately shaped policy. How the policy was attained, not the goals of the policy were shaped by the public opinion. The Persian Gulf War would be the largest use of the U.S. military since Vietnam, thus causing the Bush administration to consider how the public would react
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President Bush's implementation of the invasion increased his approval rating from 60 percent to 76 percent in just one month. By November, the majority of the American people, 70 percent felt that the US should wait before going to war. On October 20, President Bush stated his 1988 campaign pledge, "no new taxes." People were no longer interested in the Gulf a few months after Bush's speech, but were becoming more interested in domestic policy.

The American public was not very supportive of the war near the end, but Bush continued on with it. He had to reassure people that it wouldn't be Vietnam. The Bush administration stated that the reason for fighting the war was the need for a "New World Order" in the aftermath of the Cold war. The U.S. wanted to get rid of Iraq's nuclear capabilities. The media played a major role in the unfolding of the Persian Gulf War. The media didn't give much attention to the negative parts of the war, such as the protests, and praised the military.

During all three of the benchmarks in the Persian Gulf War, public opinion was very influential. The first benchmark was President Bush's decision to send troops to the Gulf in Operation Desert Shield. This was the beginning of a rapid increase in interest by the American people. Secretary of State, James Baker III made statements
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