1. Time Available
• How much (quantity) time does the
– If severe time constraints are involved, the
situation is defined as a crisis.
• Possible last minute commutation of a death
Nuclear War: 30 minutes away
Nuclear War in Europe Scenario
Commuting a death sentence
30 month sentence commuted by
Pres. Bush after “Scooter” Libby
named a CIA operative
2. Amount of Prior Study and
The decision to try to send men to the moon would involve this factor.
Was the US ready when Kennedy challenged the country to win the
How much is really known about the Iranian
Nuclear program? How far along? Who is it a
threat to? (defensive war, preemptive war, or
M1A Abrams Tank destroyed in Iraq.
Roadside bomb crater Iraq
Humvee destroyed in Iraq by roadside bomb.
"As you know, you go to war with the Army you
have. They're not the Army you might want or
wish to have at a later time."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
How much did Kennedy really know about how far the missiles in Cuban
were from being ready for launch?
3. Importance of the Issue
• How important is the issue really?
Flag Burning: Is it the deciding factor
on who to vote for?
Illegal Immigration: Who wants them and why and who does not
want them and why?
Potential nuclear war over Cuba or Iran v. the
decision to see Alvin and the Chipmunks
4. Personal Beliefs
• The president’s political ideology as well
as any other convictions that influence
– JFK (Liberal, Catholic)
– Bush ’43 (Conservative, Protestant)
– Carter (Conservative Democrat, Baptist,
supported prayer in school)
5. Prior Experience
• This factor is one of the most important.
– Consider President Bush ’41 making
decisions regarding foreign intelligence.
– JFK had backed down to the USSR at the Bay
of Pigs, the Vienna Conference, and over the
• Two terms Representative from Texas.
• Ambassador to the United Nations
• Chief of the U. S. Liaison Office in the
People's Republic of China
• Director of the Central Intelligence
• Chairman of the Republican National
6. Style of Decision Making
• How does the president make decisions?
Truman: A loner
Carter: Small Inner Circle
Clinton: Larger Group
7. Formal Rules
• Written rules:
– the US Constitution
– Federal laws
• Civil Rights Act of 1965
• NATO, SEATO
• Monroe Doctrine
Civil Rights Act of 1965
8. Informal Rules
– Red Mass: Sunday before SCOTUS term
– Seating at a state dinner
– Press protocol in the White House
• Other unwritten rules that govern behavior
of the president (i.e. “chain of command”)
9. Available Resources
• Tangible things that the president has at
Truman only had two of the Atomic Bombs.
So what do you target?
U2 Spy plane to gather data and how many ships will it
take to blockade Cuba?
Available Military Resources
• As of 2003, the United States occupied over
700 installations in over 36 countries worldwide.
Some of the largest contingents are:
• Germany 75,603
• Japan (US Forces Japan) 40,045
• South Korea (US Forces Korea) 29,086 Italy
• United Kingdom 10,331
10. Status Relationships
• People who have face-to-face or easy
contact with the president and influence
Nixon and Kissinger
Bush and Blair
Clinton and Blair
11. External Decision Makers
• People who influence the president but never
actually communicate with the president
– Hostages in Iran influenced Carter’s attempted
– Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
– Starving refugees in Darfur
• Gen. Peter Pace said the United States does not have a
specific goal for troop numbers, but rather "off-ramps
and on-ramps based on what we have on the ground."
– "The enemy has a vote on this," Gen. Pace said on "Fox
Hostages in Iran
influenced Carter’s Iranian President
attempted rescued. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Gen. Peter Pace said the United States does not
have a specific goal for troop numbers, but
rather "off-ramps and on-ramps based on what
we have on the ground."
"The enemy has a vote on this,"
12. Public Opinion
• The opinion of the populace.
• Both domestic and international
• Public opinion is a tough factor because
presidents have so much influence on it, it
is sometimes difficult to determine which
came first, the decision or public opinion.
James David Barber’s
The Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House.
ADAPTIVE: Confident, flexible; COMPULSIVE: power is a means to self-
create opportunities for action; realization; expend great energy on
enjoy the exercise of power & tasks derive little joy; preoccupied with
do not take themselves too whether failing or succeeding; low self-
Active seriously; power is used as a esteem; inclined to rigidity & are highly
means to achieve beneficial driven; problem managing aggression.
results. W. Wilson, H. Hoover, A. Lincoln, L. B.
F. D. Roosevelt, H. Truman, J. F. Johnson, R. Nixon, (J. Kerry, A. Gore,
Kennedy, G. Ford (G. W. Bush H. Clinton)
COMPLIANT: superficially WITHDRAWN: respond to a sense of duty;
optimistic; seek to be loved; avoid power; low self-esteem
easily manipulated; have low compensated by service to others;
self-esteem overcome by an respond rather than initiate; avoid
Passive ingratiating personality; react conflict and uncertainty; emphasize
rather than initiate. principles, procedures; an aversion to
W. H. Taft, W. Harding, R. Reagan, politicking.
W. Clinton C. Coolidge, D. Eisenhower, G.
Washington, (G.H.W. Bush, G. W.
Bush 2nd term?)