Graham T. Allison, the author of Essence of Decision
, once described the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 as “a seminal event”. In fact, numerous analytical studies of the crisis have already been written. Moreover, new information which has recently become available sheds new light on the conventional understanding of the crisis, making the event even more attractive to students of international politics and foreign policy. This article is a review of the new information that has recently arisen regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis. In addition, an analysis is made on what kind of influence this new information might have on the development of foreign policy theory.
The largest pillar of this recent revision to the Guban Crisis is the three review conferences, which have been held since 1987. The first was the Hawk's Cay (Florida) Conference, held in March 1987, in which former Excomm members and scholars on international politics got together and recapitulated and re-analyzed the decision-making process in the Kennedy administration during the crisis. The second was the Cambridge Conference, which was held in October 1987, the 25th anniversary of the crisis. At this conference, three Soviets (Mikoyan, Burlatsky, Shakhnazarov) made testimonies on what was happening in Khrushchev's inner circle. The third one was held in Moscow in February 1989. The course of events in the Kremlin was clarified even more at this conference by first-hand accounts made by Andrei Gromyko and Anatoli Dobrynin, among others.
In addition, newly declassified documents, as well as newly published memoirs by those involved in the crisis, both from the U. S. A. and the U. S. S. R., include some startling revelations.
The new information from the American side includes: President John F. Kennedy acutually planned secretly that he would offer a public trade between Soviet missiles in Cuba and U. S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey at the final stage of the crisis (“Rusk revelation”); Robert Kennedy, who had been thought as “the leader of the doves, ” initially insisted on a naval invasion of Cuba; the decision-making process was in fact not so systematic as scholars have analyzed, with the policy makers heavily burdened with psychological stress; etc. Now that the new information is available and we know that there is a diverse possibility in interpreting the decision-makers' motivations for their stances, we have to construct and make use of a more dynamic decision-making model, not a static one like the Bureaucratic Politics model, in order to explain what was really happening in the Oval Office during the thirteen days.
On the other hand, the new revelations from the Soviet side include: Khrushchev's real motivation for deploying missiles in Cuba was to prevent a possible American invasion; Khrushchev got angry at Kennedy's announcement of quarantine and nearly ordered the running of the blockade; Khrushchev also suffered from the heavy pressure of being on the brink of a nuclear war and finally decided to withdraw the missiles from Cuba; 20 nuclear warheads had already arrived, and 40, 000 troops had been sent to Cuba; etc. Although the new revelations from the Soviet side are highly welcome since they fill blank spots in history, we need more information, not only oral testimony but also archival materials, to ascertain the hard facts in the Kremlin during “the Caribbean Crisis.”