In recent years, numerous commentators have maintained that an Iraq syndrome (or Afghanistan syndrome, or both) will inhibit U.S. foreign policy and reduce the leeway U.S. presidents have to use force overseas. To assess the plausibility of those predictions—and the validity and scope of war-weariness theory—this article provides a thorough examination of how the Korean War influenced subsequent U.S. decisions regarding the use of military force during the Dien Bien Phu crisis in 1954 and the first offshore islands confrontation with the People's Republic of China in 1955. The analysis suggests that military quagmires (such as Korea) are likely to exert only minor influence on great powers’ subsequent decisions on whether to use military force but are much more likely to influence how great powers do so.

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