March 27, 2011

Extra Reading for Chapter Ten

Posted in BADM 720 tagged , , , , , , , at 3:34 pm by Sarah

“Groupthink” refers to the phenomenon which causes members of an organization to promote and act upon commonly held assumptions, even though individuals in the group may know on some level that those assumptions are false.  I think it is too simple to presume that the individuals are just afraid to be seen as going against the group.  While this may be true in many cases, my guess is that most of the time, individuals are not consciously aware that they are ignoring their better judgment or gut feelings until it is too late.  This reading provides a very striking and extreme example of the effects of groupthink.

The circumstances surrounding the intelligence that led our country to war in 2002 were sketchy even then.  The Senate Select Committee’s report states that the CIA relied too heavily on outdated information and the testimony of individuals who had personal reasons to influence the decision to go to war.  But a former CIA employee comments in the article that this is just an excuse, and that the decision to go to war had been made before the bad intelligence was gathered.  I would not be surprised in the least if it was found that Washington was simply sitting with its hand on its holster, waiting for any provocation to draw and shoot.

Conspiracy theories aside, it’s not a far stretch to deduce that the groupthink mentality was affecting the nation’s popular opinion at the time.  We had just been dealt a serious blow, and people were scared and angry.  President Bush’s “war on terror” was the first chance people had to take out their aggression, regardless of the weak justifications of the war or the fact that it wasn’t even Iraq that had attacked us.  Anyone who paused to question was called “unpatriotic” or “against us”.  In hindsight, and with my understanding of groupthink, I would not expect anything other than the surge of passion that carried us to war.

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