In the governmental politics model, internal political struggles can lead to decisions that may at least be questionable. In this case, Soviet President Nikita Khruschev may have been pushed by internal political forces to put missiles in Cuba. President John F. Kennedy faced internal pressure for air strikes on the Soviet sites in Cuba, but resisted them.

In the end, the two sides were able to negotiate their way out of the standoff and ratchet down the rhetoric. The Soviets pulled the missiles out of Cuba; the U.S. pulled missiles out of Turkey—like Cuba for the U.S., right on the Soviets’ doorstep—and promised not to invade Cuba. What’s also useful and interesting about Allison’s work is that it shows how using different theories together can explain why states behave the way they do. Putting missiles in Turkey and Cuba was a realist approach to international affairs. A constructivist view can tell us why things happened the way they did: The culture and politics of the U.S. and the Soviet Union led them to make decisions, and respond to each other’s decisions, in ways that can’t be viewed as entirely rational. And, finally, the solution came from a somewhat liberal approach to policy: Sit down, talk it out, reach an agreement and pull back from the brink. Although in succeeding decades where the missiles were placed became less of an issue, as each side developed weapons that could hit any spot on the globe from anywhere else, despite all the weapons, nobody fired a shot. Despite more than five decades of nuclear tension, threats and military buildup, the world failed to blow itself up


The Cuban missile crisis
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