The Kennedy administration considered the Soviet placement of missiles in Cuba an affront to U.S. strategic, military, and hemispheric interests. Explain
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The missiles were placed by the Soviet Union in Cuba that has been an integral part of the United States of America for years and one of its strategic objects. Besides, the Guantanamo military base was situated in Cuba. Though the missiles were removed from Cuba after long negotiations, the Kennedy administration was analyzing the situation and motivation of the Soviet Union while making such a decision. Though tension existed between these two superpowers for a long time, there were no open confrontations either from the side of the Soviet Union or from the United States.
The Kennedy administration had suggested five hypotheses as an explanation for the actions of the Soviet government and the placement of missiles in Cuba. As this situation was perceived as an affront to US interests in terms of political and military spheres as well as strategic plans of the country, it was decided that the Soviet Union either attempts to strengthen its strategic position using the United States or diminish the strategic significance of the United States in the Western Hemisphere. Five hypotheses were offered as possible explanations of the Soviet decision to place missiles in Cuba including the influence on Latin America with political and economic purposes, fear of the strategic potential of the US resources, and destruction of Cuba after finding the missiles.
What is the difference between the personal message from Khrushchev (October 26) and the formal quid pro quo proposal (October 27), and why did the Kennedy administration decide to answer the first letter?
The Kennedy administration received a personal letter from Soviet President Khrushchev on October 26 where the Soviet leader reasoned his decision to place the missiles in Cuba and his readiness and ability to remove those missiles from the island. As Khrushchev presented his opinion, it was more favorable for Kennedy to reply to this message than to the one called ‘quid pro quo proposal’ where the Soviet government was mentioning the American missiles placed on the territory of Turkey is one of the neighboring countries to the Soviet Union. In other words, the 26 October message was the personal letter from Khrushchev whereas the 27 October letter was received from the Soviet government.
The Kennedy administration questioned the credibility of the first letter but decided to answer the first letter instead of the second sent by the Soviet government. In this respect, the decision of the Kennedy administration can be explained with the help of the tone and reasoning used in the personal letter written by Khrushchev and the offensive and provocative message received from the Soviet government on October 27. Besides, the second letter was more aimed at assuring the Kennedy administration of the soviet strategic power and promises to ensure the integrity of Turkish frontiers as well as the security of people living on the territory of Cuba.
The President insisted on “centralizing” the right to give certain orders on two occasions. Explain in which context and why
As President Kennedy was making firm decisions, he attempted to make the orders more centralized in order not to tolerate government officials to make decisions that can change the manner of negotiations or, moreover, shift the balance in deliberations. In other words, President Kennedy was supposed to negotiate with the representatives of the Soviet Union and make them aware of the seriousness and firmness of his decisions. Also, the quarantine was ordered in terms of ships coming to Cuba.
President Kennedy decided to centralize the right to give orders in the case when the ship is moving towards the territory of Cuba. As the quarantine had been ordered in terms of the transport coming to Cuba, President Kennedy was able to give orders if inspection of the ship was necessary about the situation, information acquired on the vessel or other facts that could be considered significant for giving such an order. Moreover, government officials were deprived of their ability to make decisions and give orders independently on the situations concerning Cuba and Soviet negotiations. The second case for centralizing the orders was the tension to be increased due to the existing circumstances. As the situation was complicated and any incorrect decision or action could have caused the war, it was necessary to control a step of every person.
The ExComm members were divided into hawks and doves. Who are the most prominent hawks and doves, and what responses/options do they support?
As the entire community of the ExComm organization consisted of government officials and former officials, there were hawks and doves. Notably, some members either did not support any of the wings or supported one of the wings from time to time. In other words, the prominent hawks included Secretary Douglas Dillon, Paul Nitze, Dean Acheson, and John McCloy. At the same time, the prominent doves included the following officials: Robert F. Kennedy, George Ball, Llewellyn Thompson, Robert S. McNamara, Roswell Gilpatric, Theodore Sorenson, Adlai Stevenson, and Robert A. Lovett. So, the number of doves was larger than hawks though this did not mean that hawks were less active in their activity.
The main responses supported by doves included naval blockade as opposed to the airstrike supported by hawks. The main difference is that doves were against the military conflict and tried to solve the problem using negotiating with officials, leaders, and other people that could influence the situation and help resolve it peacefully. The opposition presented by hawks used confrontation and tried to advocate military action to force the Soviet Union to remove the missiles from the island. The doves believed that the military resources of the United States were advanced compared to the Soviets whereas the hawks thought that the Soviets could use the missiles to improve their strategic position.
What role did Congress play in the decision-making process and formulation of the U.S. response?
Congress played a significant role in the formulation of the United States’ response towards the placement of the missiles on the territory of Cuba by the Soviet Union. Though President Kennedy made up his mind to make the final decision and formulate the response without informing and asking for advice from the US Congress. Besides, the Congress was one of the organs of the US governmental apparatus to support President Kennedy in terms of using all means to prevent the Soviet Union from rooting in Cuba.
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The response of the United States to such a sort of military confrontation could be the airstrike to prevent another situation that took place in Pearl Harbor. However, the most favorable way was chosen by President Kennedy to solve the replacement problem and he has approached this issue with the help of negotiations and refused to decide the Soviet Union and its leader Khrushchev as the victory of the United States. The US army would not start the military action because this would have caused insecurity in the region and mistrust of all allies of the US in the world.