Failure in Vietnam and Afghanistan A comparative analysis of the U.S. and Soviet Interventions
Ouden, R.P. den
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Subject of the thesis This thesis consists of a comparative analysis of two conflicts that originated during the Cold War period; U.S. participation in the Vietnam War (1954-1973) en the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989). It discusses similar and comparable economic, political and military behavioral patterns of the U.S. and Soviet governments and explains why both nations eventually failed to achieve their strategic objectives in Vietnam and Afghanistan. To elaborate the analysis eight aspects are used which can be applied to both the United States and the Soviet Union. The following aspects are discussed: • Economy • Foreign Politics and Strategic Significance (geopolitics) • Domestic Politics • Prestige • Ideology • Détente • Military Objectives • Media Coverage The comparative method used for this analysis is derived from the account of Charles Ragin - The comparative method - Moving beyond qualitative and quantitative strategies. Most common for this method is the use of the Boolean method, a way to tally several variables that have affected the examined conflicts. The analyzed variables can be forged into a Boolean table. This table determines whether a variable attributes to the failure or not. The Boolean table directly shows the influential variables. To keep everything well-ordered only three digits are used. (1) = significant, (0,5) = important or influential, and (0) = non influential or unimportant. Though it is desirable to only use 1 and 0, this is rather too abstract because the analyzed variables may overlap and are all in some way responsible for the failure. Nonetheless, a distinction has been made between the variables, otherwise it would be impossible to distinguish the important from the non-important variables.