The Cuban Missile Crisis and Politics as Usual



Allison's (1971) argument about the importance of bureaucratic politics was supported by his use of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 as a “least likely case” for their impact. For the same reasons, the crisis is a least likely case for domestic politics affecting foreign policy. Recent disclosures about the U.S. side during the crisis suggest that U.S. public opinion and interest group activity played a role in U.S. government policy choices that has not formerly been appreciated. Public opinion and interest group opinion were generally supportive of the blockade option. The discussion of the crisis by ExComm members shows awareness of and sensitivity to domestic political considerations in the selection of the initial U.S. response to the Soviet missiles. Evidence of events outside the ExComm supports the contention that domestic political concerns shaped Cuba decision making. If such considerations intruded upon decision making then, treating their importance as more general is reasonable.