Case-Study of US Foreign Policy Process


On October 16, 1962 President John F. Kennedy received information from his National Security Advisor (NSA), McGeorge Bundy, regarding the Soviet MRBMs, or medium range ballistic missiles, placed in Cuba. The President instantly pulled together a group of 14-15 of his closest advisors known as the EXCOMM, or the Executive Committee of the National Security Council. What followed for the next thirteen days until October 28, 1962 was a series of intense discussions usually held in the Cabinet Room which centered on how to respond to this situation.[1]

The President’s primary response included a naval blockade or “defensive quarantine” put into effect on October 20, 1962. In addition to the naval blockade, preparations for an all-out military action, including a massive airstrike followed by an invasion of Cuba along with other “diplomatic initiatives” under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations (UN), and Rio Treaty were also approved by the President on October 20, 1962. The air strike was to be implemented following the blockade on October 23, 1962.[2] However, thanks to Kennedy’s firm resolve to pursue a more peaceful course, and a firm leash on the military and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a full-fledged military strike was finally not undertaken.

The objective of this essay is to demonstrate that President Kennedy was completely in command of the US foreign policy process during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that there were several factors influencing Kennedy’s decisions during this process. The seven major factors identified here in order to explain the President’s firm grip on the foreign policy process during the Cuban Missile Crisis were: (1) the constant fear of escalation, (2) perception of Khrushchev as a rational decision maker, (3) the Berlin issue, (4) the Bay of Pigs, (5) Kennedy’s control over the continuous flow of information, (6) the notion of morality, and (7) credibility of the response. In addition, I argue that Kennedy’s foreign policy process reflected the small group model, meaning that the foreign policy was an outcome of a small group of people (the EXCOMM and the President) who were formulating the policy process. This model underlined the need for secrecy, decisiveness in policy making, speed and an extraordinary degree of liquidity in the flow of information to and from the White House. Hence, the small group model strongly explained the President’s decision making style during the crisis.

Overall, the foreign policy process was very complex, but I characterize it in terms of how President Kennedy headed the process and the various elements he factored in when formulating his response. Walt Rostow, Counselor and Chairman of Policy Planning Council at the State Department, recalled that “people’s views changed: Monday was different from Tuesday, which was different from Wednesday. It was a dynamic human process. People worried to different degrees, depending on how surprised they were that the Russians did it.”[3] In sum, this essay aims to prove that President Kennedy constructed the foreign policy response during the Cuban Missile Crisis in light of its complexity and his control over the foreign policy process mirrored the small group model.

Kennedy’s Control on the Foreign Policy Process

The Cuban Missile Crisis illustrated that President Kennedy was spearheading the foreign policy process through a constructive deployment of his advisors in the EXCOMM. The US response to the crisis was a product of the President using the EXCOMM as a “way of getting information and ideas out” as mentioned by Raymond Garthoff, Special Assistant for Soviet Bloc Political and Military Affairs, Department of State, who further noted that in addition to the “exchange and hashing out of ideas,” it was also a way of “giving everyone a chance to vent his ideas and to feel he was participating.”[4] President Kennedy initiated the EXCOMM to ensure secrecy and vitality in the decision making process. Pierre Saligner, White House press secretary, remarked that “President Kennedy created EXCOMM because he did not want the American people to know about the crisis until he has made a decision.”[5]

Also, in terms of maintaining momentum in the process, Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, mentioned that “the president thought that it was well to let his principal subordinates—the secretaries of State and Defense, his National Security Adviser, and so on—meet on their own without his presence and debate these things (e.g., blockade versus military action) among themselves as a matter of gaining a consensus among his chief advisers.”[6] This reflected how the President maneuvered the EXCOMM to synthesize a viable response during the crisis.  Kennedy’s exercise of authority was further underlined by Roger Hilsman Jr, Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research, Department of State, who stated that “in the case of the Cuban missile crisis, it very quickly became clear to Kennedy that it was his baby, and he became the desk officer; he could not delegate this one. So, boy, he was on top right from the beginning.”[7]

This implied that the OAS, NATO, UN, and allies such as France and Britain had no influence over the foreign policy process. We find President Kennedy agreeing with Vice President Lyndon Johnson and NSA McGeorge Bundy in the very first EXCOMM meeting on October 16, 1962 where he stated that “I don’t know how much use consulting with the British… I expect they’ll just object. Just have to do it. Probably ought to tell them, though, the night before [U.S. announces its policy response].”[8] Hence, it appears that none of these players had any impact whatsoever on Kennedy’s decision. For instance, Theodore Sorenson, Special Counsel to the President, in his “Summary of Agreed Facts and Premises of October 17, 1962,” stated that it was generally agreed that NATO and “certain Latin nations” would be “notified” but “not consulted immediately prior to any action by the United States” and he further observed that the President “would hold announcing the existence of the missiles and the justification of our action until that action has been completed.”[9] Hence, the OAS, NATO and the others alike had no impact whatsoever on Kennedy’s decision.

Furthermore, through a telephone conversation on October 28, 1962, McGeorge Bundy explained to Philip De Zulueta, Private Secretary to the British Premier Harold Macmillan that, although the placement of the missiles posed a much greater military threat and political challenge to the US interests in Berlin and Turkey than to the rest of the OAS and NATO members, the US saw itself obliged to inform the allies “so that they may not be caught with the feeling that we are acting in this area, a limited area, in a way which is going to harm them without them having a chance to both to be informed and to advise.”[10] In short, the nature and the direction of the policy response during the Cuban Missile Crisis was determined by the Kennedy Presidency while the allies, including the OAS and NATO, were only informed about the US policy. Hence, it was a gesture of diplomatic courtesy on the part of Kennedy Administration, nothing more.

Role of the Congress and Domestic Factors

Concerning the role of Congress in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Congress did not play any role in terms of participation/involvement in the foreign policy making. In actuality, the Congress was initially critical of the President’s approach in resolving the crisis. That is, Congress declared Kennedy’s response to be weak and called for a much more aggressive approach on the part of the US in dealing with the Soviets. This was evident from a congressional briefing on October 22, 1962 when the Republicans criticized the Kennedy Administration’s response to the Soviet build up in Cuba to be insufficient and advocated for immediate all-out military action against the missile sites. The most vigorous and aggressive proponent for military action was the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Richard Russell, who criticized President Kennedy by saying that “you have told them not to do this thing. They’ve done it. And I think that we should assemble as speedily as possible an adequate force and clean out that situation.”[11] Although President Kennedy held firmly to his ground and chose to proceed with a blockade, the manner in which congressmen such as Senator Russell perceived the US response to the missiles in Cuba mirrored the fact that the Congress viewed Kennedy’s response to the crisis through a very critical lens.

However, the role of the Congress in influencing the foreign policy process was limited. President Kennedy and his inner circle intended to keep the decision-making circle limited to very few members. That is, the information cycle was limited to only “those with an operational necessity to know” since the President and the EXCOMM believed they did not have “much time” and feared that the missiles would become operational if the US didn’t react fast and decisively.[12] In this light, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara commented that “we should assume that this will become fairly widely known, if not in the newspapers, at least by political representatives of both parties within—I would…say a week…I doubt very much that we can keep this out of the hands of the members of Congress, for example, for more than a week.”[13] This need to conceal the information from the Congress meant that involving the Congress in the policy making process would prove to be detrimental to the US in light of the given volatility of the situation. Hence, due to such inherent deliberative functioning of the Congress (which make it less effective in responding to a crisis situation), due to Kennedy’s hands-on administrative style and time sensitivity, the Congress was simply ‘informed’ of the blockade on Cuba rather than be actively engaged in formulating that response.

Regarding domestic factors, we find they did not exert any explicit direct influence on the President’s decision-making process. This meant that there were no intermistic issues which would have influenced the President’s policy response during the Cuban Missile Crisis. By intermistic issues, we mean that a foreign policy rarely has a purely international focus since much of it will have an impact on domestic issues.[14] Members of the Senate have a well-defined constituency and are busy responding to domestic concerns, most of which are related to foreign policy issues such as bilateral trade relations between two countries and the like. As congressmen follow the interests of their constituents, they often come in conflict with other fellow congressmen.[15] Hence, since the members of Congress are responding to constituent concerns, within Congress we often see this conflict. But, this was not the case in the Cuban Missile Crisis because of the Kennedy’s extraordinary exercise of control on the foreign policy process. That is, there were no intermistic issues which could have influenced the policy process during the Cuban Missile Crisis in light of the discreet and intimate handling of the policy formulation by President Kennedy and the EXCOMM.  For example, the Republicans and the congressional committees identified the rise of Castro (domestic scenario in Cuba) and the failure of President Kennedy in the Bay of Pigs (foreign scenario for the US) to be a vital political launch pad for undermining his leadership in the upcoming 1962 election and they were cashing in on to the Castro issue as an election card by pressuring Kennedy to “act militarily.”[16] But, the developments in Cuba that were brought up by the opposition in terms of a security concern for the US didn’t have any impact on the US policy process and the outcome of the blockading Cuba in the crisis. This was obvious in Kennedy’s response to Senator Russell’s questions in the Congressional briefing on October 22, 1962 (explained before).   The reason for the exclusion of the Congress was due to its inherent deliberative functioning (which make it less effective in responding to a crisis situation) and due to Kennedy’s hands-on administrative style. Consequently, the Congress was simply informed of the blockade rather than be effectively engaged in formulating that response. Clearly, the domestic elements did not factor in the outcome of the policy process in the crisis.

Control on the Flow of Information and Agenda Setting

The President controlled the flow of information. President Kennedy determined the set of issues to be addressed and the issues he will focus on and how he would focus on them.[17] This was evident in the framing of the response.  Kennedy explained to Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, and others in the National Security Council (NSC) meeting on October 22, 1962 that although the US had considered a combination of blockade-airstrike policy response, “we ought to scratch that [option of airstrike] from all our statements and conversations, and not ever indicate that that was a course of action open to us.”[18] The reason, he mentioned, was that “it may inhibit us in the future,” and secondly, “it will become a propaganda matter, that this was a matter seriously considered by the [U.S.] government.”[19] Hence, President Kennedy determined the set of issues to be addressed and the issues he would focus on and how he would focus on them.

In reality, Kennedy’s control on the information flow could be traced as back as far as September 1, 1962, in the Assistant to Deputy Director for Intelligence (Planning), CIA, William Tidwell’s Memorandum for the Record. In this Memorandum, Lt. General Marshall Carter, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, passed the President’s message to Ray Cline, Deputy Director for Intelligence, saying that “according to the President’s instructions the clamps were to remain on the release of certain information regarding Cuba except for the barest minimum access on a need-to-know basis.”[20] Once again, in the Memorandum for the Director by Lyman Kirkpatrick, Executive Director, CIA, we observe President Kennedy’s control both on the flow of information and on the people accessing that information when he ordered Gen. Carter to freeze the information concerning a “readout of U-2 flights showing SA-2 sites” on August 31   and “wished it put back in the box and nailed tight.”[21] Hence, this shows that the President ensured that he had absolute knowledge of the latest developments during the crisis and who was receiving the updates besides himself.[22]

President Kennedy not only dictated the process, but also crafted the foreign policy response. This was evident when President Kennedy, in response to Bundy’s question regarding how the EXCOMM would respond to the information gathered about the missiles on October 16, 1962 stressed that “We ought to stick with that [simply say there is no evidence] until we want to do something. Otherwise we give ourselves away.”[23] Another instance was when The New York Times’ Max Frankel and his boss, James Reston, penned a piece claiming that the Soviets had actually installed “offensive missiles” in Cuba and contacted Pierre Saligner with this information. “Within minutes” Kennedy was “on the line” asking them to withhold the story (which they did).[24] This not only reflected the level of control exerted by President Kennedy over media but also, shows the level of secrecy exercised by the Presidency on the information.

The President not only controlled the flow of information, but also exercised control over who participated in the foreign policy process. For instance, in responding to Bundy’s question regarding whether President Kennedy had “definitely decided against a political track,” the President responded by saying that “I don’t think we ought to do the OAS. I think that’s a waste of time. I don’t think we ought to do the NATO. We ought to decide how many people we talk to, and how long ahead, and how many people, really, in the government.”[25] Another example re-enforcing this point was when President Kennedy instructed Bundy by stating that “Nobody, it seems to me that there’s no one else in the State Department [except Charles E. Bohlen, Newly appointed Ambassador to France, and Llewellyn Thompson, former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, who were aware of the situation] that ought to be talked to about it [missiles in Cuba] in any level at all until we know a little more.”[26] We find that Kennedy determined who ought to be included in the process.

Also, President Kennedy exercised total command over the secrecy of the issue, which gained the EXCOMM more time and facilitated the formulation of the response. This was evident when President Kennedy passed instructions to Bundy stating that “in Defense we’ve got to keep it [information about the missile sites] as tight as possible, particularly what we’re going to do about it. Maybe a lot of people know what’s there. But what we’re going to do about it really ought to be, you know, the tightest of all.”[27] Furthermore, in his meeting with the Soviet Foreign Minister, Anderi Gromyko, President Kennedy’s application of secrecy was visible in the concealment of his strong intentions to confront Gromyko with the U-2 photographic evidences of the missiles. The President simply listened to Gromyko’s blunt lie about the “defensive” purpose of the soviet missiles deployed in Cuba and read out his September 4, 1962 statement of warning from the US against the Soviets “placing any weapons in Cuba.”[28] Robert Kennedy, Attorney General, stated that the President and his advisors worked “secretly, quietly” and “privately” which enabled the EXCOMM to decide an appropriate US response.[29] Hence, we observe that President Kennedy not only determined the players who ought to be a part of the “inner circle” but also, exercised enormous level of control in keeping the issue very quiet.

Commander in Chief

The President asserted himself as the Commander in Chief of the Military. This was seen when Kennedy on October 22, 1962 ordered that “special precautions be taken to be sure that, if the Soviets launched a reprisal attack at any point, the Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Italy would not be fired without express presidential authorization.”[30] Another event which demonstrated the level of control exercised by the President Kennedy on the Navy was when he himself “carefully and personally selected” the ship Marucla “to be the first ship stopped and boarded [for inspection]” on October 26, 1962.[31] Dino A. Brugioni, a former Imagery Analyst at the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) under the Kennedy Administration, recollects in his book, Eyeball to Eyeball, that President Kennedy reminded Admiral George Whelan Anderson Jr. that “only [he], the president would decide which ship or ships should be stopped and which ships should be boarded.”[32] President Kennedy was always closely monitoring the developments and did not allow any event go unsupervised by the President himself. In short, all decisions were made and transmitted from the White House alone.

Kennedy ensured that he had access to every pertinent detail and avoided being insulated from individuals because of their rank in the chain of military command and intelligence hierarchy. This meant that apart from controlling the information, Kennedy exercised a certain degree of caution in dealing with the crisis. To this end, the President initiated an “elaborate command and control network,” facilitating his direct communication with the officers on the front.[33] Kennedy’s command over the military as magnified when the situation was rapidly approaching war, with reports on the October 27, 1962 claiming that a U-2 reconnaissance plane maintaining surveillance over Cuba post blockade had been shot down. For instance, on October 27, when Robert McNamara proposed that “if our planes are fired on tomorrow, we ought to fire back,” President Kennedy responded saying that “I think we ought to wait till tomorrow afternoon, to see whether we get any answers if U Thant [Acting Secretary General of the United Nations] goes down there [to Havana].”[34] We observe the President refrained from decisively opting for a military retaliation on Cuba and Soviet Union. [35]

Factors Influencing the Process

There are several factors which explain why President Kennedy chose to proceed with a blockade over the other three potential policy options proposed by his advisors during the thirteen days.[36]

Fear of Escalation

Fear of escalation of the crisis was the most dominant element influencing the foreign policy process. Robert Kennedy remarked that “what guided all his [President Kennedy] deliberations was an effort not to disgrace [Nikita S.] Khrushchev [First Secretary, Communist Party of the Soviet Union], not to humiliate the Soviet Union, not to have them feel they would have to escalate their response because their national security or national interests so committed them.”[37] The President’s remark that the US’s “basic objective should be the preservation of peace …if our countries should miscalculate they would lose for a long time to come” in the Vienna summit was concrete evidence to enormous weight that the fear of escalation had upon the President even some months prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis.[38] In short, the threat of US-Soviet relations going extremely bitter was haunting Kennedy months before the crisis of April, highlighting that the fear of escalation was irrevocably a dominant factor influencing Kennedy’s choice of a blockade over a surgical military attack and invasion. President Kennedy was worried about an unintended escalation of events which would result in a catastrophic nuclear exchange. He believed in “placing ourselves in the other country’s shoes” and feared that if the US proceeded on the path of a military strike, as strongly advocated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), then the Soviets “would have to react militarily to such actions on our part.”[39] The key reason why President Kennedy opted for the blockade over an air strike was simply because this unpredictability of events and a consequent chain reaction of nuclear exchange. Robert Kennedy attributes the President’s concern regarding “a miscalculation-a mistake in judgment” to the influence of Barbara Tuchman’s book, The Guns of August, which the President had read.[40] In explaining the reasons for World War I, the book argued that It was possible that “either side could take a step that –for reasons of security or pride or face” which in turn could very easily “bring about a counterresponse” from the other side for similar reasons and this would eventually end in a needless escalation towards armed confrontation.[41]

From Tuchman’s book, President Kennedy saw parallels between the “war over Cuba” and WWI. Hence, the President was “not going to misjudge, or miscalculate, or challenge the other side needlessly, or precipitously push our adversaries into a course of action that was not intended or anticipated.”[42] The impact of this book on President Kennedy was evident when he decided to permit the ship Bucharest to go to Cuba despite strong opposition from his advisors and the military. His explanation for doing so was that “we don’t want to push him [Khrushchev] to a precipitous action–give him time to consider. I don’t want to push him in a corner from which he cannot escape.”[43] In short, “every opportunity was to be given to the Russians to find a peaceful settlement” in order to eliminate every possibility of transforming the crisis into “a public humiliation” for the Soviets.[44] This fear of uncertainty forced the President to constantly place himself in the shoes of Khrushchev. As well, the constant fear of escalation forced the President to oversee nearly every pertinent detail. The fact that President Kennedy decided that the blockade on Cuba was strictly against “Soviet arms deliveries to that island [Cuba] rather the all shipments of vital supplies, such as oil” was evidence of President Kennedy’s exercise of maximum precaution towards preventing any further deterioration of the situation.[45]

President Kennedy’s decisions to implement a blockade, to allow Bucharest to pass, to resist the pressure from his advisors and from the Congress to bomb the missile sites were all taken in order to prevent any kind of public humiliation to Khrushchev and reduce uncertainty which could risk  an unintended nuclear war between the US and USSR. This was evident in his letter to Khrushchev on October 23, 1962, in which Kennedy expressed his grave concern regarding the explosive and volatile nature of the situation by signifying that both the US and USSR must exercise “prudence and do nothing to allow events to make the situation more difficult to control than it already is.”[46] Even the CIA, in its Special National Intelligence Estimate 11-18-61, “Soviet Reaction to Certain US Courses of Action on Cuba,” of October 19, 1962 re-enforced the President’s concern by stating that “they would recognize that US military action posed a major challenge to the prestige of USSR. We [U.S.] must of course recognize the possibility that the Soviets, under pressure to respond, would again miscalculate and respond in a way which, through a series of actions and reactions, could escalate to general war.”[47]

The impact of this fear of escalation on the President can be seen from the exchange of letters between Kennedy and UN Secretary General U Thant.[48] In his letter to the President on October 25, 1962, U Thant expressed his concern for the adverse consequences which could potentially arise from this crisis by stating that the Soviet ships heading for Cuba “might challenge” the US blockade and “produce a confrontation” which “could lead to an aggravation of the situation.”[49] Hence, to prevent the occurrence of such a catastrophe, U Thant informed Kennedy about his request to Khrushchev that Soviet ships “be instructed to stay away from the interception area” to permit more time for the “discussions of the modalities of  a possible agreement” along the lines of the UN Charter.[50] In response, on the very same day Kennedy assured U Thant that the US will “accept and abide by your request” and “do everything possible to avoid direct confrontation with the Soviet ships in the next few days,” avoiding the “risk of any untoward incident” that would exacerbate an already volatile situation. [51] In fact, it was this fear that led the President to respond to Khrushchev’s first letter which was privately transmitted on October 26, 1962 rather than responding to the second public one sent on the same day simply because, the first message, as Rusk acknowledges, “seemed to offer a possibility of a peaceful settlement.”[52] The second letter which was made public on the same day, recalled Pierre Salinger, “had all kinds of questions and conditions [referring to the Turkey-Cuba deal] which made Kennedy “uncomfortable” and hence, inclined him to respond to the first letter.[53]

Furthermore, in his telephone conversation with Philip De Zulueta, on October 28, 1962, Bundy underlined that the US intended to use the terms and conditions of Khrushchev’s second letter on October 26, 1962 as the “framework” and a “basis for negotiation” with USSR.[54] Thus, the U.S. response during the Cuban Missile Crisis was primarily a product of the President’s understanding that “this seemed to be the action we could take which would lessen the chance of an immediate escalation into war” as he explained to the British Prime Minister Macmillan in their conversation on October 22, 1962.[55]

Chairman Khrushchev: A Rational Policymaker

Complementing this fear of miscalculation was President Kennedy’s perception of Khrushchev as a sane and rational actor, which also explains why the former adopted a blockade and followed it with a practice of maximum restraint for the remaining eight days after the blockade. Robert Kennedy stated that the President “believed right from the start that the Soviet Chairman was a rational, intelligent man who, if given sufficient time and shown our determination, would alter his position” and the President was absolutely focused on eliminating the chances of “error, of mistake, miscalculation, or misunderstanding” on his side.[56] This understanding also had a tremendous amount of influence on President Kennedy’s decision to approve quarantine over military strike and is further underlined by Robert Kennedy, who asserted that every decision the President took was grounded on the question: “can we be sure that Khrushchev understands what we feel to be our vital national interest? Has the Soviet Union had sufficient time to react soberly to a particular step?”[57] Everything from issuing a public statement to selectively stopping a ship named Marcula was made based on this simple yet critical question.

As Dean Rusk pointed out, “the United States had overwhelming conventional superiority in the neighborhood of Cuba, and we could have gone in there and taken out those missiles almost with the snap of a finger. But, we knew that if we did that, this would force Khrushchev to take further steps, such as the seizure of Berlin or some other similar action that could have greatly enlarged the dangers of the crisis.”[58] In this light, we see that the President was right in perceiving the Chairman to be a rational decision maker (just like himself). For instance, in his letter to Kennedy on October 26, 1962, Khrushchev acknowledged that “we are of sound mind and understand perfectly well that if we attacked you, you will respond the same way,” implying that if the US and the USSR were to declare war over Cuba, then it would simply be unstoppable, “for such is the logic of war.”[59] In that same letter, the Soviet Chairman showed his understanding concerning the possibilities of the circumstances to lead to an all-out war by reminding Kennedy that “we [USSR] and you [US] ought not now to pull on the ends of a rope,” since, “the more the two of us pull, the tighter that knot will be tied” and eventually, neither will have the strength to untie that knot, forcing it to be cut.[60] Hence, Kennedy’s anticipation of Khrushchev’s responses, which were grounded in the former’s understanding and perception of the latter to be rational, set the course of the outcome to be more diplomatic rather than a path of war.[61] This clearly shows how much the understanding and the perception of the Soviets to be just as rational as Kennedy’s EXCOMM in terms of formulating policy responses explained and influenced Kennedy’s decision to proceed with the blockade.

Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs was arguably another dominant influence on President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Bay of Pigs taught him to not to permit the CIA to act with complete independence and also to not to trust the Joint Chiefs. The Memorandum from the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Thomas Mann, to Dean Rusk on February 15, 1961 states that the intelligence community unanimously believed that “rifts between leaders in the Castro regime, mounting economic difficulties and rising resentment with terrorists methods will lead to the eventual overthrow of the Castro regime by the Cubans themselves aided only by conventional type of covert activities” from the US.[62] Assistant for Special Operations to the Secretary of Defense and Head of Operation Mongoose, Brigadier  General. Lansdale’s conclusion in his “Review of Operation Mongoose” on July 25, 1962 was:  “there is a widespread disaffection in Cuba” and that “firm U.S. intention to help free Cuba is the key factor in assessing the Cubans themselves [indicating at a possible support from ground resistance elements] as an operational assets for Operation Mongoose.”[63] But, this was false; the reason being that “there was no [hard] intelligence evidence” of a potential rebel uprising against the Castro regime within Cuba.[64] This was unsupportive of the intelligence which the CIA transmitted to the White House, calling for some US assistance in support of the US-trained dissent groups, stated Brigadier General Andrew Goodpaster, Staff Secretary to President Dwight Eisenhower.[65] Bundy indicated that “there was a real breakdown in communication between the White House and the people at the CIA who were in charge.”[66] This, coupled with the understanding that “it would be easy” as remarked by Eugene McCarthy, US Senator (D., Minn.) highlighted that Operation Mongoose was a case-study mirroring intelligence failure.[67] The claim that “these plans of the CIA were militarily feasible” by Schlesinger Jr., Special Assistant to the President, made  President Kennedy decide not to trust the military and the CIA just on face value.[68] Consequently, supervision and scrutiny were pivotal in the Cuban Missile Crisis. As Ralph Dungan, Special Assistant to the President, recalls, “the Bay of Pigs made the president goddamn skeptical of the intelligence community and the Joint Chiefs.”[69] There was no ground uprising as calculated, and this left President Kennedy “[disappointed] with himself for relying too much on the advice of others [Joint Chiefs and the CIA]” during the Bay of Pigs.[70]

The strategy of the intelligence community, as Manuel Ray, a member of the Cuban Revolutionary Council, argued, was “to tell Mr. Kennedy everything they needed to tell him so he would authorize the invasion.”[71] Rusk emphasized this point by stating that “there was almost complete misunderstanding and miscommunication between President Kennedy and the leadership of the brigade in Cuba and one must hold the CIA responsible for that.”[72] Such elements caused a tremendous distrust about the CIA and the military chiefs on the part of the President. President Kennedy was determined not to repeat it (trusting the CIA purely based on its word of mouth) again especially in light of the volatility of the situation. The fact that he had not forgotten the lessons learned from the Bay of Pigs is clearly evident in his conversation with General Curtis Le May, Air Force Chief of Staff, on October 19, 1962 in which President Kennedy countered the General’s conclusion that the Soviet are not going to retaliate if the US initiated military action on the missiles by stating that “they [Soviet Union] can’t let us just take out …their missiles, kill a lot of Russians, and not do anything.”[73] This not only illustrated the President’s distrust of the JCS, but also re-emphasized his belief that any application of military action by the US will inevitably escalate the crisis instead of resolving it.

More evidence of the impact of the Bay of Pigs on President Kennedy’s thinking can be seen in his instructions to the Joint Chiefs to communicate to the Turks that the Jupiter missiles in Turkey will not be fired without presidential consent. Kennedy asked Paul Nitze, Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, Department of State, to confirm this by stating that “what we’ve got to do is make sure these fellows [Turks] do know, so that they don’t fire them [Jupiter missiles] off and think the United states is under attack. I don’t think we ought to accept the chiefs’ word on that one, Paul.”[74] George Ball, Under Secretary of State, underlined the incredible influence of the Bay of Pigs over President’s decision during the Cuban Missile Crisis by stating that “what happened in the Bay of Pigs had a certain psychological effect on the president’s response on the Cuban Missile Crisis, because he couldn’t stand being put down by Cuba in two situations.”[75] Here, we see a positive correlation between that the lack of trust on the CIA and the military from the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs experience. In other words, Kennedy’s hands-on navigation of the EXCOMM and his approach towards dealing with the JCS and the flow of information was significantly a product of his experience in the Bay of Pigs.  Hence, trusting the JCS blindly in the Bay of Pigs was a miscalculation which the President was not willing to risk during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Berlin Factor

With respect to the issue of Berlin and Turkey, Kennedy also had to constantly factor in the implications of military action not only directly on the US itself rather on other key US interests abroad, especially on Berlin. The value of the consequences of a military action on the part of the US on Cuba and a retaliatory Soviet military move on Berlin and Turkey was central to adopting any course of action. In his meeting with the JCS on October 19, 1962, President Kennedy justified his stance for a blockade instead of a military strike by pointing out to General Taylor that if the US launched an airstrike on Cuba, then “it gives them a clear line to take Berlin” and “we would be regarded as trigger-happy Americans who lost Berlin.”[76] Further, he continued, “we would affect the West German’s attitude towards us” and also, “we would have no support from among our allies.”[77] Lastly, he emphasized that “what’s basic to them [Soviets] is Berlin” and “[I]n every conversation we’ve had with the Russians,” that is what “Khrushchev’s committed himself personally.”[78]

President Kennedy evaluated the consequences of individual actions prior to embarking on them. He underlined that whatever the US response was going to be, it had multilateral implications for both the US and its allies as well. In his meeting with the JCS on October 19, 1962 President Kennedy concluded that “when we balance off that our problem is not merely Cuba but it is also Berlin and when we recognize the importance of Berlin to Europe, and recognize the importance of our allies to us, that’s what made this thing to be a dilemma for three days. Otherwise, our answer would be quite easy.”[79] As Bundy put it, the President didn’t want to signal to the allies that “we were trying to sell our allies for our interests.”[80] The same can be said about the significance of Turkey. Robert Kennedy mentioned that the President was constantly contemplating “what was going to occur in Berlin, in Cuba? If we attacked Cuba, and the Russians reciprocated with an attack on Turkey, would or should the Turkish missiles be fired?”[81] Consequently, the President ordered the Jupiter missiles in Turkey to be diffused “so that he personally would have to give permission before they were used.”[82] The equation was: military action on Cuba will force a military action on Berlin and Turkey. Hence, Kennedy clearly evaluated the pro and con of a military strike on Cuba in light of a likewise retaliation from the Soviet Union on Turkey and Berlin and this would hurt the US interests in Europe tremendously. Hence, the Turkey and Berlin factors had to be weighed into the policy calculus before embarking on a definitive foreign policy response, explaining why a blockade was chosen over military attack.

Continuous Flow of Information

The constant flow of information also had an influence on how President Kennedy made the foreign policy decisions during the thirteen days in 1962. This flow of information during the missile crisis, as Richard Helms, Deputy to the Director for Plans, CIA, argued, “gave the President a few days to work out some kind of solution” and was a “very important turning point in the whole crisis.”[83] Theodore G. Schackley, a former CIA officer who was designated as a Station Chief in Miami during Operation Mongoose in the 1960s, mentioned in his memoir, Spymaster, that during his meeting with President Kennedy and DCI John McCone on August 1, 1962 at the Oval Office, the President had demanded a “clear, unambiguous U-2 photographs of SAM-2s or whatever was being deployed [in Cuba]. That, to him [President Kennedy], was hard intelligence.”[84] In response, a SW (secret writing) report which was communicated to Washington on September 18, 1962, cited that “all Cubans in the area had been moved out and that security was being enforced to prevent access to the area where very secret and important work, believed to be concerned with the missiles, was in progress.”[85] This report, coupled with the photos of the MRBMs shot by the U-2 reconnaissance on October 14, 1962 provided President Kennedy with the “hard intelligence” which he had asked from Ted Schackley, nearly a month earlier. Hence, the President’s need for hands-on intelligence evidence about the nature of the missile activities in Cuba prior to the setting up of the EXCOMM signifies not only the enormous amount of control Kennedy exercised on the intelligence community, but also his attempts to ensure the constant flow of information to the White House.[86]

Morality in Foreign Policy

President Kennedy’s personal beliefs also shaped his approach in the formulation of the policy process during the Cuban Missile Crisis under the enormous pressure from both the Joint Chiefs and the Republicans to conduct military strike on the missiles’ sites. President Kennedy believed that “military policy and power cannot and must not be separated from political and diplomatic decisions” which clearly proved that “the use of force always remained to him merely political tools” and not the final solution to any crisis.[87]

The argument was that if the US initiated any kind of military action against Cuba, it would be seen as an “attack by a very large nation against a very small one.”[88] George Ball was the first person in the EXCOMM to bring out this issue of morality on October 18, 1962.  His argument was that a surprise military action is simply a US imitation of the Pearl Harbor and hence, he stated that “it’s the kind of conduct that one expects of the Soviet Union. It’s not conduct that one expects of the United States.”[89] This point was later re-enforced by Robert Kennedy when he concurred with Ball saying that “I think George Ball has a hell of a good point” and carrying out military strike which would kill a lot of Cubans and Russians who manned these missile sites would be “a hell of a burden to carry.”[90] This was chiefly why the President was reluctant to adopt the airstrike and instead chose to proceed with a blockade.

The argument that “a surprise air attack would erode if not destroy the moral position of the United States throughout the world” was further strengthened by General Taylor’s estimation that “we’re never sure of getting all the missiles and the offensive weapons if we fire a strike. Secondly, we see—all of us, all your advisors—that there would be a very damaging effect of this on our alliances.”[91] This made President Kennedy firmer in pursuing the course of blockade instead of a military action. Robert Kennedy mentioned that “it had worried him [President] that a blockade would not remove the missiles—now it was clear that an [air] attack could not accomplish that task completely, either.”[92] Hence, we observe that the blockade not only significantly reduced the unpredictability in crisis but also restored the US image in the world, and most importantly, preserved the unity of alliances which in turn lent credibility and legitimacy to the response itself. The Central Intelligence Agency Memorandum, “The Crisis, USSR/Cuba” of October 25, 1962 claimed that “Latin American countries are beginning to offer military units for quarantine, and there is generally little adverse reaction in the hemisphere.”[93] Another indication of the preservation of alliances was evident in the CIA Memorandum, “The Crisis, USSR/Cuba” of October 26, 1962, which noted that “most of the OAS nations have offered to participate in some form in the quarantine, and NATO members have agreed with some minor reservations to deny landing and overflight rights to Soviet planes bound for Cuba.”[94]

Further, concerning the question of morality of the decision, we find Robert Kennedy exclaiming that “I think the whole question of, you know, assuming that you survive this, the fact that we’re not…what kind of a country we are.”[95] In support, from the EXCOMM conversations on October 18, 1962 in the DVD Voices from the Brink, we hear Ball remarking that “this business of carrying that mark of Cain on your brow for the rest of your life is something…” Here, we observe that the quarantine provided a moral basis for the acceptance of the US response in the international community which the alternative options such as the surgical military strikes didn’t.

Credibility and International Legality

Turning our attention on the question of international legality, we find that one of the crucial elements influencing President Kennedy’s decision to follow through with the blockade was the issue of legality or legitimacy of the response. In addition to reducing the unpredictability in crisis, the blockade restored the US image in the world and, most importantly, preserved the unity of alliances which in turn lent credibility and legitimacy to the US response.

To begin, Kennedy perceived the placement of the missiles even after repeated warnings in his speeches on September 4th and 13th to be violating the ethics and the conventional etiquette of the international arena. In addition, the deployments of Soviet missiles in Cuba were seen as challenging the US willingness/firmness to enact its stated policies which signified the nature of the US response to such actions on the part of the Soviets. For instance, in his statement on September 4, 1962, Kennedy warned the Soviet Union that thus far, there is “no evidence of any organized combat force in Cuba from any Soviet bloc country;” “were it to be otherwise, the gravest issues would arise.”[96] Again, in his personal telegram (T494162) to Macmillan on October 22, 1962, Kennedy declared the Soviet initiatives in Cuba to be a “breach in the conventions of the international stalemate” which, “if unchallenged,” would communicate to Khrushchev and the international community that “our determination is low, that we are unable to meet our commitments,” inviting a “further and still more dangerous moves [on Berlin or Turkey].”[97] Hence, there was this acknowledgment of illegality and threat of Soviet initiatives in the Hemisphere which demanded a credible and a strong response on the part of the US.

To this end, President Kennedy sought to base the US response on legal grounds, as demonstrated by his public address of October 22, 1962 in which he explicitly stated that the deployment of missiles in Cuba is a “deliberate defiance of the Rio Pact of 1947, the traditions of this nation and Hemisphere, the Joint Resolution of the 87th Congress, [and] the Charter of the United Nations.”[98] Subsequently, he called for invoking the Articles Six and Eight of the Rio Pact under the OAS and also cited the U.N. charter “in support for all necessary action.”[99]

Hence, it was a question of the international or “hemispheric” legality and credibility of the response which President Kennedy and his advisors had to articulate, in order to maintain the unity within various alliances, including the NATO, UN, OAS, Britain, and France. When Robert McNamara emphasized the advantages and disadvantages of a blockade in the meeting on October 20, 1962, it explains why proceeding with the blockade, in Kennedy’s eyes, would be perceived as a legitimate and credible policy by the allies.[100] McNamara highlighted the pros of blockade over its cons citing that in addition to avoiding “a sudden military move which might provoke a response from the U.S.S.R which could result in escalating actions leading to general war,” the response “would cause us least trouble with our allies” since it “avoids any surprise air attack on Cuba, which is contrary to our tradition.”[101]

On the down-side, he argued that a blockade is time consuming and would portray the US’s “[world position] to be weakening.”[102] This cost-benefit analysis by the Secretary of Defense was again explicitly reflected in the President’s meeting with the JCS on October 19, 1962 during which President Kennedy explained his reasons for choosing the blockade over a military alternative. Another instance which reflected the significance of credibility was when Kennedy, underlining the significance of holding talks with NATO over Khrushchev’s proposed Cuba-Turkey deal on the October 26, 1962 said that “the advantage of the meeting [with NATO] is that, if we reject it [Khrushchev’s Cuba-Turkey deal], they participate in it. And, if we accept it, they participate in it.”[103] Also,  Kennedy’s letter to Macmillan on October 22, 1962 in which he reached out to the latter, asking him to “speak forthrightly in support” of the blockade in the UN Security Council meeting, shows Kennedy’s aims to gain unanimity among his allies such as Britain for the quarantine.[104] In that, the President was successful. Macmillan replied in a telegram (7396) stating Britain’s support to the US response on Cuba in the Security Council meeting.[105] Here, we see that although President Kennedy did not engage the allies in the decision-making process, he definitely reached out to them for mustering international support for US response once the decision to employ a blockade was made. Clearly, President Kennedy was signifying that the perception of allies does matter towards implementing the US response which enjoyed international consensus.


The President was in full command of the foreign policy process during the Cuban Missile Crisis and there were a combination of fairly intertwined factors which influenced the decision making process.  President Kennedy’s EXCOMM reflected the small group model towards formulating the policy response.

Kennedy and the Small Group Model

In a small group model, foreign policy is a product of small groups of people getting together often times during a crisis situation, such as the EXCOMM under President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. There is a need for secrecy, speed and rapid response in this model. A key flaw in this model is often the problem of group-think. This situation is characterized by policy makers coming together and acting together in the same way because it’s easy and they don’t have to run the risk of facing criticism for holding a particular viewpoint which in turn could alienate them from the group and the policy process. The hallmark of group-think is “close-mindedness or a collective reluctance to question basic assumptions about the problem at hand,” resulting in a “shared illusion” of consensus within the group.[106] Hence, the implication of group-think in the context of a foreign policy process includes “collaboration and compromise” among the players whose individual beliefs harmonize and align with other members involved in the decision making process.[107]

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the President and the EXCOMM overcame the problem of group-think. In order to eliminate the group-think effect, President Kennedy “decided not to attend all the [EXCOMM] meetings” since he knew very well that “personalities change when the President is present, and frequently even strong men make recommendations on the basis of what they believe the President wishes to hear.”[108] Roswell Gilpatric, Deputy Secretary of Defense, recalls that the President “not only allowed, he encouraged open discussion. There was never any attempt to cut off interventions.”[109] Hence, the meetings involved multiple viewpoints and insights which significantly eliminated the groupthink issue. As Richard Bissell, Deputy Director of Plans, CIA, remarked, “under Kennedy, there was more opportunity—and indeed, more incentive—for the individuals in the EXCOM[M] to say what they really thought, instead of trying to agree on a watered-down result.”[110] However, it was the President who had the final say as to how things were to proceed.

In conclusion, the small group model illustrates how President Kennedy delegated the policy response to the Soviet missiles placed in Cuba through the EXCOMM in those thirteen days between October 16, 1962 to October 28, 1962. This model showcases President Kennedy’s  organization style as a “personal and intimate command” in delegating and constructing the US response to the crisis.[111] I reiterate that the key hallmarks of the US foreign policy process which one can take-away from the Kennedy and Cuban Missile Crisis case-study are as follows: personal involvement and hands-on control over the foreign policy process, confined delegation, high intelligence liquidity, acknowledgement and encouragement for the voicing of multiple perspectives, tolerance of strong counter views, and finally, Presidential role in agenda-setting and framing of the crisis and the response.[112] Thus, President Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis provides students of the US foreign policy process with a substantive insight into the central role and high effectiveness of the presidency towards shaping the US foreign policy.


British Archives on the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962. Great Britain: Archival Publications International  Limited, 2001.

Brugioni, Dino A. Eyeball to Eyeball: The Inside Story of the Cuban Missile Crisis. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 1991.

Chang, Laurence and Peter Kornbluh. Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 a National Security Archive Documents Reader. New York: The New Press, 1998.

Giglio, James N. Presidency of John F. Kennedy. Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2006.

Hastedt, Glenn P. American Foreign Policy (7th Edition). 7th ed. Alexandria, VA: Prentice Hall, 2008.

Hook, Steven W. U.S. Foreign Policy: The Paradox of World Power, 2nd Edition. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C: CQ Press, 2007.

Kennedy, Robert F. Thirteen Days A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999.

King Jr., John A. and John R. Vile. Presidents from Eisenhower through Johnson, 1953-1969: Debating the Issues in Pro and Con Primary Documents. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2006.

Larson, David L. The Cuban Crisis of 1962: Selected Documents, Chronology, and Bibliography. 2nd ed. New York: University Press of America, 1986.

Loviny, Christophe, and Vincent Touze. JFK Remembering Jack. Paris: Seuil, 2003.

McAuliffe, Mary S. CIA Documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962. New York: Government Reprints, 2001.

Preston, Thomas. The President and His Inner Circle. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

Shackley, Ted. Spymaster: My Life in the CIA. 1st ed. Chicago: Potomac Books Inc., 2005.

Strober, Deborah H and Gerald H. Strober. Kennedy Presidency: An Oral History of the Era. Washington, D.C: Brassey’s, 2003.

The Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Documents. Washington DC: Brassey’s, 1994.

Voices from the brink. DVD. Produced by Stephen Phizicky. Perf. Terence McKenna. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2001.

Zelikow, Philip and Ernest May. The Kennedy Tapes Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Concise Edition. Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002.

[1] The crisis did not end on October 28, 1962 with the confirmation of the withdrawal of missiles from Cuba in exchange for the US assurance against the invasion of Cuba. Instead, “weeks of secret, often tense, negotiations followed until a complete Soviet and US understanding and an accompanying end to the US blockade could be announced on November 20” The Kennedy Tapes, ed. Philip Zelikow and Ernest  May (Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002), 410. Also, in order to understand the several reasons that still precipitated tensions between the two sides and extended the crisis till November 20, 1962, see Chang and Kornbluh, Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 a National Security Archive Documents Reader (New York: The New Press, 1998), 243-307.

[2] Ibid., 138.

[3] Deborah H. Strober and Gerald H. Strober. Kennedy Presidency: An Oral History of the Era. (Washington, D.C: Brassey’s, 2003), 379.

[4] Ibid., 378.

[5] Ibid., 379.

[6] Ibid., 378-379.

[7] Ibid., 395.

[8] Zelikow and May,  47.

[9] Chang and Kornbluh, 124.

[10] British Archives on the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 (Great Britain: Archival Publications International Limited, 2001), 360.

[11] Voices from the brink. DVD. Produced by Stephen Phizicky (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2001).

[12] Thomas Preston. The President and His Inner Circle (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), 117.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Steven W. Hook. U.S. Foreign Policy: The Paradox of World Power, 2nd ed. (Washington, D.C: CQ Press, 2007), 191.

[15] Ibid., 287.

[16] Glenn P. Hastedt. American Foreign Policy, 7th ed. (Alexandria, VA: Prentice Hall, 2008), 284.

[17] Also, See the “Memorandum on Donovan Project” by John McCone, Director of Central Intelligence, on October 11, 1962 in The Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Documents (Washington DC: Brassey’s, 1994), 123-125.

[18] Zelikow and May,  161.

[19] Ibid.

[20] The Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Documents, 33.

[21] Mary S. McAuliffe. CIA Documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 (New York: Government Reprints, 2001), 39.

[22] Also, see Brugioni, 320.

[23] May and Zelikow, 50.

[24] Brugioni, 343.

[25] May and Zelikow, 50.

[26] Ibid., 51.

[27] Ibid.

[28] James N. Giglio. Presidency of John F. Kennedy (Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2006), 214.

[29] Robert F. Kennedy. Thirteen Days A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999), 85.

[30] May and Zelikow, 141.

[31] Kennedy,  63. Furthermore, Marcula was basically an American built Liberty ship which was registered from Lebanon and was going to Cuba under the soviet charter. As we will later see, this specific event also illustrates Kennedy’s attempts to “give the Soviet leader sufficient time to make a responsible decision” and simultaneously, “enforce the quarantine.” Giglio, 222.

[32] Brugioni, 419.

[33] Ibid.

[34] May and Zelikow, 394.

[35] President Kennedy himself expressed shock and complete disbelief to the U-2 report October 27, 1962 and remarked that “well now, this is much of an escalation by them [Soviets], isn’t it?” May and Zelikow, 356.  Also, see Brugioni, 499.

[36] The three major competing foreign policy options were: one was a naval quarantine or blockade of Cuba which meant stopping and searching every Soviet ship believed to be carrying “offensive weapons” (and was later extended to POL or petrol, oil and lubricants) to the island. This was firmly advocated by Robert McNamara and Adlai Stevenson, the US Representative to the UN. Second, a surgical airstrike only on the Soviet missile sites and third, an  invasion of Cuba. Both of these military proposals were firmly advocated by the military chiefs headed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Maxwell Taylor. Presidents from Eisenhower through Johnson, John King Jr. and John R.Vile (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2006 ), 131-132.

[37] Kennedy, 95.

[38] Christophe Loviny and Vincent Touze. JFK: Remembering Jack. (Paris: Seuil, 2003), 78.

[39] Kennedy,  96.

[40] Ibid., 49.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Kennedy,  59. Also, see British Archives, 71.

[44] Ibid., 81.

[45] May and Zelikow, 138. Furthermore, President Kennedy’s control over the military is evident in the Executive Committee Minutes document of October 23, 1962 which clearly mentions a list of plans authorized personally by the President. Chang and Kornbluh, 167.

[46]David L. Larson. The Cuban Crisis of 1962: Selected Documents, Chronology, and Bibliography. 2nd ed.  (New York: University Press of America, 1986), 68-69.

[47] McAuliffe, 201.

[48] Also, see Kennedy’s telephone conversation with Macmillan on October 26, 1962 in which the two are talking about various ways of helping the Russians to “save face” such as proposing the immobilization of the Thor Missiles in England and the like in the British Archives on the Cuban Missile Crisis (254-256).

[49] Larson, 167.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid., 168.

[52] Strober and Strober, 398.

[53] Ibid., 400.

[54] British Archives, 359.

[55] May and Zelikow, 191.

[56] Kennedy,  97.

[57] Ibid., 96.

[58] Strober and Strober, 383.

[59] British Archives, 295-301.

[60] Ibid., 301.

[61]Larson argues that Khruschev was a rational actor as seen by his repeated emphasis on the possibility of war if either side misunderstood the reason behind the actions of the other in such a volatile and uncertain circumstance in his letter to President J.F. Kennedy on October 28, 1962 in The Cuban Crisis (193-194).

[62] King Jr. and Vile, 121.

[63] Chang and Kornbluh, 45.  Also, see The Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Documents, 11.

[64] Strober and Strober, 331.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid., 344.

[67] Ibid., 335.

[68] Ibid., 347.

[69] Ibid., 350.

[70] King Jr. and Vile, 115.

[71] Strober and Strober, 329.

[72] Ibid., 343.

[73] Loviny and Touze, 96.

[74] May and Zelikow, 150.

[75] Strober and Strober, 350.

[76] May and Zelikow, 111.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ibid., 112.

[79] Ibid.

[80] Ibid., 309.

[81] Kennedy, 74.

[82] Ibid.

[83] Strober and Strober, 375.

[84] Ted Shackley. Spymaster: My Life in the CIA. 1st ed. (Chicago: Potomac Books Inc., 2005), 63.

[85] Ibid.

[86] See Shackley 58-67.

[87] Loviny and Touze,  92.

[88] Kennedy, 30.

[89] May and Zelikow, 91.

[90]Ibid., 96.

[91] Ibid., 111.

[92] Kennedy, 39.

[93] McAuliffe, 304.

[94] Ibid., 316.

[95] Voices from the Brink.

[96] Larson, 17. Also, see Kennedy’s statement on September 13, 1962 in which, he repeated this cautioning tone towards USSR and Cuba in The Cuban Crisis (31-32).

[97] British Archives, 23.

[98] Chang and Kornbluh, 160.

[99] Ibid., 163.

[100] May and Zelikow, 128. Also, see the Memorandum to USIB (United States Intelligence Board) members by McCone on October 19, 1962 which summaries the arguments for and against the blockade. McAuliffe (New York: Government Reprints, 2001), 193-194.

[101] Ibid.

[102] Ibid.  Also, see President Kennedy’s personal telegram T488162 to Macmillan on October 21, 1962 in which he stressed on unity and resoluteness among the ally forces of Briton, NATO, OAS and France towards countering Khrushchev. British Archives (Great Britain: Archival Publications International Limited, 2001, 1962), 7-8.

[103] Ibid., 337. For further understanding of the US stance in this regard, see Zelikow and May, 178.

[104] British Archives, 11-13.

[105] Ibid., 21-22.

[106] Hook, 92.

[107] Ibid.

[108] Kennedy,  26-27. However, the groupthink problem was not completely obviated. Robert Kennedy pointed out an instance in the a preliminary meeting with the President where he was accompanied with a Cabinet officer who “vigorously and fervently expressed the opposite point of view, which, from the discussion, he [Cabinet officer] quite accurately learned would be more sympathetically received by the President.” Kennedy, 86.

[109] Strober and Strober, 382.

[110] Ibid., 379.

[111] Preston, 113.

[112] For a detailed theoretical analysis of the Kennedy-Cuban crisis case-study in terms of the US foreign policy process, see Preston, 97-136.