Pentagon Papers take-home exam

(typed answer due at in-class final)

The Pentagon Papers are probably the most extensive and detailed case study of U.S. foreign policy decision making even published. Designed originally for internal Defense Department consumption only, there is a famous history of the publication of these secret reports, which you can read about online. For purposes of this course, I would like you to pick one of the following three chapters for a case analysis: volume II, chapter 7; volume III, chapter 2; volume III, chapter 3. Then analyze your selected chapter from the perspective of two of the theories in the course. You are free to choose any two theories you want, just as long as the two operate at the same level of analysis – that is, choose two intra-organizational theories or two inter-organizational theories, but not one intraorganizational and one inter-organizational theory. More specifically, for each theory: I. From the humanistic perspective, please point out which aspects of the case are highlighted by the theory, and which important aspects of the case are backgrounded by the theory. (Presumably you will have chosen your theory partly on the basis of its relevance to some aspect of the case that interests you.) II. From the scientific perspective, (a) Develop two falsifiable hypotheses or predictions that each theory makes about your case. That is, if the theory were 100% true, what would you have expected to have see happened in the case. --state your hypothesis at an abstract level, like the way theorists in the course talk; and then --state your hypothesis again in operational terms, in the historical language of the case itself. In other words, there should be four hypotheses in total: two for each theory. It is not necessary but sometimes helpful if at least two of the hypotheses are competing: i.e., one theory predicts A, and the other theory predicts B, on the same slices of reality. (b) Evaluate the degree to which evidence in the chapter supports or disconfirms your various hypotheses. (c) If there is a less than perfect fit between theory prediction and reality, decide whether or not the theory can be “patched up” or extended to fit the discordant reality, without violating its basic worldview. If it can be extended, what would you suggest to the original theorist in order to fix the flaw? If the violation is more fundamental, what do you conclude about the domain of reasonable application of the theory (so-called “boundary conditions”)?

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