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Crisis Diplomacy:Explore a recent or historical international crisis and the role of diplomacy in its attempted resolution,whether successful or othewise.

by on December 22, 2012

There are lots of conflicts and negotiation which has been successfully settled peacefully mainly due to the parties using diplomacy to resolve identified issues. The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 between the United States and Soviet Union which would have resulted in a nuclear war had it not been to both super powers opting to use diplomacy.
Cuba became John F Kennedy’s first foreign policy challenge simply because The US government regarded Castro as a communist leader next door who has to be overthrown.However,the Cuban population did not raise against Castrol in April 1961 despite the US government and the CIA orchestrating an over throw of the Cuban government.
Nikita Khrushchev understood that the display of his missiles in Cuba will not only support this communist comrade but it will essentially give the Soviet Union nuclear parity with the US which will enhance its international prestige. When the Soviet Union secretly put nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba, it nearly started a nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The missiles were discovered by routine spy-plane surveillance.

( 460 × 276 – Cuban missile crisis defense department photo A photo released by the US)

Soviet leader Khrushchev believed the young, newly-elected President Kennedy would not do anything about the Soviets’ putting strategic weapons in Cuba.

One option was for the US to launch an airstrike against the missiles sites which would have killed Soviet troops and conceivably touch off a nuclear war. The US had the means to do this because when Kennedy took office as the president, The US possessed a vast over 100 intercontinental and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, 80 submarine-launched missiles, 1, 7000 intercontinental bombers, and 3000 nuclear armed airplanes on aircraft carries.

(Date: 10/29/1962Creator: Photograph by Cecil Stoughton, White House, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.)

The Soviet had 50 intercontinental ballistic missiles,150 intercontinental bombers and 400 intermediate-range missles.Eventhough the ratio of 17:1 was in favor of the United States,President Kennedy went for a nonviolence solution through diplomacy.He ordered the U.S. Navy to quarantine the island by not allowing any Soviet ships to travel to Cuba. This combined with diplomacy, forced Soviet Premier Khrushchev’s hand, and the missiles were withdrawn.
In the aftermath of the Cuban crisis, historians, politicians and military brass historians say the resolution of the standoff was really a triumph of backdoor diplomacy. Kennedy resisted pressure from aides advising that he even consider a preemptive strike. He instead engaged in intense behind-the-scenes diplomacy with the Soviets, other countries and the U.N. secretary-general.
In conclusion, The Cuban Missile Crisis is deemed as an example of Diplomatic Conflict Resolution, in that, the United States of America and the USSR negotiated to end the crisis with agreement for the Soviets to withdrawal the missiles and the US not to invade Cuba. These negotiated settlements helped end the crisis with only the US blockade of Cuba still remaining till this day.

McWilliams C and Piotrowski(2009);The world since 1945 (7th Edition) date of access 17/12/12

:– historical background and audio recordings for a link. Date of access 17/12/12 audio recordings)


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  1. oskinnn permalink

    Although the US government blocked the naval corridor, a Russian ship (oil ship) was still allowed to pass through. And a U2 plane was destroyed over Cuba. This action shows that, Kennedy had some kind of diplomatic tolerance and exceptions.
    However, the US was getting prepared get in to actions because they were still caring on building their missile bases in Cuba.
    Additionally, the US government secretly offered to redraw US missiles in Turkey in exchange for those in Cuba (removal of those in Cuba).
    When Kennedy brothers meet the Russian ambassador, he mentioned they intention to remove the American missiles from their Turkey base as also part of the deal. Thus intention was just an anticipation of what Krushchev also wanted but, only clarified it in his letter to the US government.
    Just to add to your conclusion the deal involved: the blockage to be lifted, the dismantlement of the Turkish missile bases and the non-invasion of Cuba in exchange of
    Khrushchev taking out the missile bases in Cuba. At this point Khrushchev agreed to end crisis (The Russian bombers left Cuba on the 20th of November) and Kennedy accomplished his part of the deal.


  2. i think the cuban missile crisis is the perfect example of crisis diplomacy occurring in the past century. it shows despite how close we came to ww3 that krushchev and kennedy wanted to do all they could to avoid it from happening. the tolerance between the two enabled a compromise to be worked out despite the enthusiasm from their generals to attack and show of the might of their respective armed forces. it shows even during the 60s from half way across the world that diplomacy saved the day.

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