Diplomatic Failures By Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Essay

Diplomatic Failures By Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Essay

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Diplomatic Failures
Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Special Assistant to President Kennedy, was close to the Kennedy family and upheld President Kennedy as being shrewd and omniscient during the crisis. Schlesinger, in an April 1999 foreword to Thirteen Days, states that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had “played into Kennedy’s hands” (10) and that President Kennedy was a “remarkably cool, thoughtful, nonhysterical, self-possessed leader” (13). President Kennedy did not have control over to the crisis extent that Schlesinger implies he had as he failed to gain respect from Khrushchev and accepted an agreement that he had no intention of fulfilling.
Relations with Nikita Khrushchev
Though they were both heads of state of the two most powerful nations during the Cold War, Khrushchev did not view President Kennedy as an equal, believing Kennedy to be young and inexperienced. Kennedy had failed to make himself an equal of Khrushchev, and Khrushchev pitied him, calling him “too intelligent and too weak” after meeting with him in Vienna in June 1961 (Dobbs, 36). Kennedy’s poor exchange with Khrushchev at Vienna created a lack of respect from Khrushchev, giving rise to the environment in which Khrushchev felt free to agree to send nuclear weapons to Cuba without fearing retaliation from the United States.
According to Thirteen Days, Soviet Ambassador to the United States Antonin Dobrynin stated that Khrushchev favored Kennedy and did not wish to embarrass him with the 1962 midterm elections approaching (R. Kennedy, 21). However, Operation Anadyr, the Soviet operation that sent nuclear weaponry to Cuba, began 5 months before the midterm election (Fursenko and Naftali, 213). Khrushchev had fooled Kennedy into believing that he would not take...


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...n Civil War or the reintroduction of offensive weaponry (Rabe, 718). Kennedy attempted to preserve the right to invade Cuba while publicly agreeing to not invade Cuba at all. This was in violation of the agreement that ended the crisis and threatened to create a new crisis if information leaked that the United States reserves the right to attack Cuba at any given moment. In the end, President Kennedy directly violated the public agreement by utilizing the CIA to take a more aggressive stance against Cuba in the final year of his presidency. He approved underwater attacks on Cuban docks and ships, contacted potential dissenters in the Cuban army, and targeted Cuban oil refineries and power plants (Rabe, 721-22). By the end of his presidency, Kennedy had blatantly disregarded the crisis agreement and risked a nuclear war in order to attempt to remove Castro from power.

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