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The Cuban Missile Crisis

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1 The Cuban Missile Crisis

2 Cuban Missile Crisis timeline, October 1962 (1)
16: Kennedy informed that U2 flight has photographic evidence of missile sites in Cuba. Kennedy sets up ExComm to deal with situation 17-21: ExComm’s deliberations proceed. Joint chiefs advise air strikes to neutralize missile sites 22: Kennedy decides on a naval blockade of Cuba and informs the nation of the crisis via a TV broadcast

3 Cuban Missile Crisis timeline (2)
23: Khrushchev responds to Kennedy’s statement, insisting that the missiles are in place ‘solely to defend Cuba against the attack of an aggressor’. 24-25: Blockade is tested as Soviet ships head for, but veer away from, quarantine zone. A Soviet oil tanker is allowed through the blockade. 26: Russian personnel continue construction of missile bases. Soviets offer to dismantle bases in return for lifting of blockade and US guarantee not to invade Cuba.

4 Cuban Missile Crisis timeline (3)
27: Khrushchev demands that US missile sites in Turkey are dismantled. A US U2 spy plane is shot down over Cuba and the pilot is killed. In order to avert a seemingly inevitable escalation, Kennedy agrees to end blockade and not to invade Cuba. He also agrees to dismantle Turkish bases at a later date. [Secrecy is maintained over this aspect of the deal until ] 28: Khrushchev agrees to remove missiles – the crisis is over.

5 Graham T. Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1st ed. (Boston: Little Brown, 1971)

6 Explaining policy making
In searching for an explanation, one typically puts himself in the place of the nation, or national government, confronting a problem of foreign affairs, and tries to figure out why he might have chosen the action in question. … [We assume] government behaviour can be most satisfactorily understood by analogy with the purposive acts of individuals. In many cases this is a fruitful assumption. Treating national governments as if they were centrally coordinated, purposive individuals provides a useful shorthand for understanding problems of policy. But this simplification – like all simplifications – obscures as well as reveals. In particular, it obscures the persistently neglected fact of bureaucracy: the ‘maker’ of government policy is not one calculating decisionmaker but is rather a conglomerate of large organizations and political actors. (p. 3)

7 Essence of Decision - Questions
1. Why did the Soviet Union decide to place offensive missiles in Cuba? 2. Why did the United States respond to the missile deployment with a blockade? 3. Why did the Soviet Union withdraw the missiles?

8 Model 1: The Rational Actor
Possible rational explanations for Khrushchev’s actions i. Bargaining chip in negotiations over US missiles ii. Diversion/trap iii. Defence of Cuba iv. Cold War Politics v. Missile power - a shortcut in the arms race

9 Problems with rational choice accounts
Why no shield prior to deployment Why the problem about dates Why no secrecy at launch sites Why ignore US surveillance flights Why ignore US warnings

10 Model 2: Organizational Process
a government consists of a conglomerate of semi-feudal, loosely allied organizations, each with a substantial life of its own. … Governments perceive problems through organizational sensors. Governments define alternatives and estimate consequences as their component organizations process information; governments act as these organizations enact routines. Governmental behaviour can therefore be understood … less as deliberate choices and more as outputs of large organizations functioning according to standard patterns of behaviour. (p. 67)

11 Model 3: Bureaucratic Politics

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