Cover: Casualties, Public Opinion, and Presidential Policy During the Vietnam War

Casualties, Public Opinion, and Presidential Policy During the Vietnam War

Published 1985

by Mark A. Lorell, Charles T. Kelley, Jr., Deborah R. Hensler


Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 4.7 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback107 pages $25.00

This report examines the relationship between U.S. casualties and public support for U.S. military intervention in Korea and Vietnam, and concludes that a strong inverse relationship existed between the two. It also assesses to what extent concern over adverse public reaction to U.S. casualties and the resulting decline in public support influenced presidential decisionmaking with respect to military intervention in Vietnam, overriding purely strategic or military considerations. The research approach consisted primarily of interviews with senior Johnson Administration officials. It concludes that (1) limited wars often cost more and last longer than anticipated,(2) public support inevitably declines with mounting casualties, no matter what interests are at stake, and (3) democracies can't continue fighting limited wars indefinitely with steadily declining public support. It recommends that minimizing U.S. casualties should be a central objective in the formulation of new strategies, force configurations, and weapon systems for limited war contingencies.

This report is part of the RAND report series. The report was a product of RAND from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.