This thesis identifies a force, inherent in the national security decision-making process, which contributed to the American involvement in Viet Nam. Termed policy precedents, this force may be outside the control of the unwary decision maker and can result in irrational international behavior on the part of the nation. Once a policy or program becomes totally enmeshed within the governmental organization it becomes such a firm commitment that deviation from within becomes virtually impossible. At this point the means supplants the end and past policy drives present and future policies. Flexibility in decision making is lost and only a force from outside the government can effect a change. To develop this thesis the author employs the historical method and traces the development of American policy as directed toward Indochina and Viet Nam during the period 1944 to 1961. Policies are analyzed to isolate American national interests and objectives, to determine the courses of action considered, and to identify the stated rationale for selection of the final policy. The classical or pure rationality decision-making model is employed to assist in this analysis. To accomplish this research a great deal of material was reviewed, analyzed and isolated. The available literature, both the limited primary and volumius secondary sources were reviewed.