Student Paper Draft
The War of the Triple Alliance is regarded as the bloodiest war in the history of Latin America, taking place from 1864 to 1870. In a seemingly uneven match up, the country of Paraguay took on an alliance of three countries: Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. Paraguay started this conflict under the rule of Francisco Solano López, the country’s dictator. What would make Fransisco Solano López, dictator of Paraguay, exponentially increase his military forces and attack an alliance of three countries, two of which are much larger than Paraguay? I will use operational code to study the dictator who started the war and examine reasons as to why he made such the rash and risky decision that he did. After examining Francisco Solano López’s operational code, I will delve into the topic of prospect theory to further evaluate the reasons for mobilizing a military and starting a war, and the risks involved with doing so. The topic of militarized interstate disputes, otherwise known as MIDs, will be the last subject I discuss in relation to the causes of the war, and I will explain his motives for the dispute as well as the motives of the opposition
When looking into the causes of a decision, it is important to take a look into the decision maker himself and see what his operational code was. In understanding López’s operational code, we are able to better see his organic roots and motivations in making the decision that he did. Operational code is an indication of how an individual will make a decision, based on his or her upbringing, his or her prior experiences, and his or her ideologies in general that would help in the making of a decision. In Levy and Thompson’s Causes of War , operational code is explained by saying “how an individual perceives threats in a particular situation is influenced as much or more by his/her prior beliefs about the adversary and about world politics in general as by the current details of a particular situation.” (Levy and Thompson, 139). In seeing prior beliefs of an individual, we are able to couple them with the details of the current situation to create a full, well rounded picture of the decision maker and how his beliefs were shaped and formed.
López was influenced tremendously by his father growing up. Being the first born son, López was trained from the very beginning by his father to be a powerful, military-minded leader. (Saeger, 38).While he was growing up and learning about the ways of politics, he never answered to anyone but his father, who doted on him constantly. He lacked a true sense of authority from his father; something that is essential for development of his interpersonal skills. He never grasped the concept of empathy. He lacked respect for other people and whatever assumed authority that they carried with them, and that translated to his adult life, when he encountered other leaders in similar positions. (Saeger, 39). He was...