“We have to make decisions based not on fear, but on hard-earned wisdom.” : President Obama’s use of historical analogies when justifying the use of weaponized drones in the War on Terror

University essay from Försvarshögskolan

Abstract: The continued use of weaponized drones in the War on Terror has stirred up a heated debate, both in the scholarly and academic world, and there is still no conclusive empirical evidence to suggest that they are effective. As such, there ought to be factors other than efficacy that impact the decision-making process. One factor that may play a significant part in how policy makers deliberate over high stakes decisions is what cognitive theorists refer to as analogical reasoning - relating the present to the past and using this comparison as a guideline in the decision-making process. This study analyzes historical analogies used in public speeches and remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama to ascertain if there is evidence to suggest that analogical reasoning has been part of the decision-making progress when it comes to drones, or if analogies mostly serve as a strategic tool to convey messages to the intended recipients. The findings suggest that in this instance, the analogies in relation to drones were used primarily in a strategic manner, but that cognitive analogical reasoning likely has been part of previous decisions in the War on Terror. 

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