Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis: Presidential Decision-Making and its Effect on Military Employment During the Kennedy Administration – Fidel Castro, Domino Theory, Covert Operations, Khrushchev

Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this study investigates the methods by which President John F. Kennedy arrived at decisions to deploy the military in the conduct of foreign policy. Specifically, the events covered are the Bay of Pigs, which represents the nadir of Kennedy’s foreign policy experience, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, regarded as his high water mark as a world leader. Further, this study examines how effectively Kennedy employed the military once he arrived at the decision to deploy them in pursuit of his policies.

President Kennedy served during a period of extraordinary turbulence. His preferred instrument of choice in foreign policy matters was the military. This study explores the maturation of Kennedy’s decision-making process and how its evolution most affected the military.

The study focuses on Kennedy’s personality and Cold War political realities to arrive at an understanding of the decision-making mindset of the era. From this point of reference, the measure of effectiveness of Kennedy’s “flexible response” strategy is validated and his employment of the military can be judged a qualified success.

The Kennedy Presidency, perhaps more than any other administration, was inextricably defined by the Cold War. It can be convincingly argued that President John F. Kennedy’s ascendancy to the White House was due in large part to his ardent belief in the containment of Communism and anti-Soviet rhetoric. While the Cuban Missile Crisis can be rightfully regarded as the crowning achievement of his foreign policy legacy, it was the Bay of Pigs that shaped international events throughout Kennedy’s short tenure, and accelerated the process which resulted in the confrontation with the Soviet Union over the small island nation of Cuba.

A constant throughout Kennedy’s years in the White House was his use of the military as America’s principal instrument in the conduct of foreign policy. Decisions to deploy the military were based on a myriad of complex issues which generally resulted in poorly articulated military objectives and an increasingly strained relationship between Kennedy and the military. Nevertheless, the military remained Kennedy’s instrument of choice and when tasked, the military was able to effectively define its role and execute the President’s foreign policy initiatives. This study explores the origins of Kennedy’s decisions and the resultant military employment in support of his policies.

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