POLI 243 Lecture Notes - George H. W. Bush, Procrastination, Cuban Missile Crisis

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4 Apr 2012
Individual- Level Theories
Idiosyncratic traits of decision-makers 4/3/12 10:56 PM
It’s the individual that counts, if you replace the individual in a situation the
whole situation would change. A lot of decisions are made that are not
rational. People make decisions based on a lot of things, and choosing the
way to reach a goal is not always made rationally.
Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis
The difference that Kennedy being president made
Eisenhower versus Kennedy on the “Missile Gap”
o difference between the knowledge and experience brought to
the table
o Kennedy was a senator ! criticized the Republicans in order
to win the election, Eisenhower was “old” and didn’t answer
the questions asked to him in press conferences
o 50’s: Soviets had technological edge on the US, Congress
asks for a report which states that the soviets have the lead
and the US needed to do something about it. Eisenhower said
no to closing the missile gap (because he had been the top
allied general in WW2, took charge in the Cold War under
NATO). When he saw the intelligence reports, he wanted
more compelling evidence. Kennedy used this as criticism to
win the election. Eisenhower was used to watching people
playing the bureaucratic game. Eisenhower was right, there
was no missile gap.
Eisenhower versus Kennedy on the Bay of Pigs
o Wanted to overthrow Cuba’s communist regime ! Eisenhower
does not think the CIAs plan would work due to his prior
o CIA shows the plan to Kennedy and he lets the plan go
forward and the plan is a disaster ! Communist forces attack
o Kennedy has to learn to not trust the CIA as much while
Eisenhower has learned
Kennedy’s first reaction to the news of missiles
o Eisenhower and Khrushchev had a certain kind of relationship
o Another flash point of trouble in the cold war was Berlin
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o During Eisenhower’s term, people were still pretty easily
allowed to move between the east and west of the wall
o Kennedy makes a name for himself when going to the Berlin
o At the end of Eisenhower’s term he meets with Khrushchev
and Khrushchev does not get along with Eisenhower
o Kennedy meets Khrushchev and gets along with him when
they meet in Geneva
o “Why is he doing this” " first thing Kennedy says about
Khrushchev putting the missiles in Cuba (why is he doing this
to me) it becomes a very personal thing
o Another part of the crisis is that Americans find out part of
the information and don’t say anything about it for several
days ! gets the soviets to say that they are not putting
missiles in Cuba so they can portray the Soviets as liars
o It becomes very personal for Kennedy, while we can step
back from it
Perception and Misperception
One stimulus- one response?
o Emotions
o Who delivers the message?
Emotions can influence
o Robert Kennedy ! they are about to make my brother look
# Can’t read his memoirs and believe everything to be
# Can't understand what he is doing through bureaucratic
politics since he is the attorney general which has
nothing to do with foreign policy
Prejudices or biases influence how information is received and
o The Soviet Union is no better than Nazi Germany " opinions
and prejudices
# If they talk peace, think war
# Sneaky
# Everything they do is to help them do bad things
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