Factors that contributed to the failure of the US foreign policies

According to Janis, groupthink is a decline of mental efficiency, moral judgement and reality testing, which usually results from an in-group pressures. The groupthink has a role in the making of the US foreign policy. Most of the America’s policy failures can be contributed to groupthink; for example the Bay of Pigs. Some irrational factors seemed to operate in the foreign policy failures; in analyzing these factors, Bay of Pigs will be used as a reference. One of the factors was the illusion of invulnerability. This developed excessive optimism, which encouraged the taking of extreme risks. During the Bay of Pigs invasion, several advisers to the Kennedy cabinet made a confession that nothing could stop them from their decision with John Kennedy leading them. Another factor leading to the failure of most foreign policies made by the U.S was the illusion of unanimity. Most members of the cabinet and Kennedy advisers during the Kennedy administration had views and judgments that were unanimous. This was admitted by Schlesinger, an advisor, a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Self-censorship was another factor contributing to the failure of the US foreign policies; doubts and deviations from the cabinet consensus were not expressed. The advisors were reluctant of asking questions that could cast doubt on the decision that they thought was accepted because of fear of evoking condemnation from their associates. Self-appointed mindguards constituted another factor leadings to the failure of most US foreign policies. The role of the president as a mindguard became supplemented by the pressure that he exerted on the group so as to foster docility and uncritical reception of the defective arguments. Besides, another factor leading to the failure of the foreign policies was direct pressure on dissenters; members were under pressure so as not to express arguments hindering the views of the group.

There was no member who could criticize the decision that had been agreed by the majority members in the making of the foreign policies. This led to their failure.
The belief in inherent morality also contributed to the failure of the foreign policies; in making their decisions, members making the foreign policies believed in the rightness of their cause, which made them ignore the moral or ethical consequences of their decisions. In the making of a foreign policy, it is crucial to consider the ethical consequences of any action taken; however, the policy is bound to fail if this is not considered, and this is what led to the failure of most US foreign policies. The decision makers believe that their cause was right and could not be reversed. In addition, collective rationalization was a contributing factor leading to the failure of most of the US foreign policies. Members involved in the making of policies discounted warnings and did not reconsider their assumption, which was a weak decision in the making of foreign policies. Furthermore, there were stereotyped views of out-groups. There were negative views of the enemy, which made it difficult for decision makers to integrate responses that could deal sufficiently with the enemy; for instance, in the Pearl Harbor attack, the decision makers underestimated the enemy leading to failure.

The failures that emanated from the groupthink could only become a success story through the adoption of some measures. One of such measures entails the leader avoiding stating of preferences and expectations during the outset of a foreign policy. By leaders avoiding stating preferences, they were capable of eliminating the notion of self-appointed mindguard in the making of foreign policies. Members in the group making the foreign policies should be assigned the role of critical evaluators by the leader in order to avoid instances, where members cannot challenge a flaw in the foreign policy. Through this mentality, foreign policies were made successful.

The involvement of outside experts in challenging the views of policy makers became encouraged leading to a success of foreign policies. In addition, in order to realize success the leaders avoided undermining the enemy; the leaders ensured that there was sufficient time in surveying signals coming from rivals. This helped in analyzing the enemy leading to a successful decision. Social-psychological factors are critical to any decision making process. Since making of foreign policy involves acting rationally, social-psychological factors are vital in the making of foreign policies; therefore, I agree with Irving Janis that social-psychological factors are of importance in the making of foreign policy.

The maintenance of unanimity can lead a group not evaluating all its alternatives; this leads to failure of a decision made by the group. Most of the foreign policies of the United States became a failure due to the involvement of the groupthink concept. Groupthink had a critical role to play in the making of foreign policies as depicted in the Pearl Harbor, the Vietnam War, the Bay of Pigs, and the invasion of Iraq among others. The decision makers in all these foreign policies utilized the concept of groupthink. However, due to the weaknesses in the decision made by using this concept, these foreign policies did not succeed.