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Cuban Missle Crisis

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Political Science Quarterly, Spring 2001 v116 i1 p81 The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Limits of Crisis Management. RICHARD M. PIOUS.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2001 Academy of Political Science
Nowhere do the constitutional prerogatives of the president seem greater than in the midst of national security crises; nowhere do we invest in the president greater resources of command. Although in the past half century presidents have surrounded themselves with a vast national security apparatus, consisting of intelligence agencies and the National Security Council, it is not at all clear that presidents have been effective as crisis managers. They often lack crucial information, use incomplete or misleading analogies to understand crisis situations, find it difficult to micromanage events, and are unable to project force effectively. Even when they are successful, it is often in spite of, rather than because of, the resources of the institutionalized presidency at their disposal.
The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 provides a case study of how John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev almost blundered into a nuclear war through the crisis management approaches of their advisory systems, but then managed to extricate themselves using personal diplomacy and old-fashioned political horsetrading. They did so without revealing to the world how they had defused the crisis, a decision to maintain confidentiality with far reaching consequences for subsequent presidential crisis decision making. The illusion that presidential crisis management can compel an adversary to submit and that a nuclear crisis can be successfully managed left Kennedy's successors with impossible burdens of public expectations.
The United States and the Soviet Union were on the brink of nuclear war between 22 October, the evening that President Kennedy announced a "quarantine" on Soviet ships carrying weapons...

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