The below article, which appeared in the Atlantic last January, is a very important illustration of how domestic politics determine foreign policy. Bear in mind, the behaviour described below occurred when there was (and still is) a consensus among the pol-mil intellectuals that domestic politics stops at the water’s edge and that foreign policy was and should be bi-partisan — the conclusion is a good analysis of where this kind of romantic intellectualization leads.
The Real Cuban Missile Crisis
By Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic, 11 January 1913
On that very first day of the ExComm meetings, McNamara provided a wider perspective on the missiles’ significance: “I’ll be quite frank. I don’t think there is a military problem here … This is a domestic, political problem.” In a 1987 interview, McNamara explained: “You have to remember that, right from the beginning, it was President Kennedy who said that it was politically unacceptable for us to leave those missile sites alone. He didn’t say militarily, he said politically.” What largely made the missiles politically unacceptable was Kennedy’s conspicuous and fervent hostility toward the Castro regime—a stance, Kennedy admitted at an ExComm meeting, that America’s European allies thought was “a fixation” and “slightly demented.”