March 14
Kennedy and the Crisis Presidency

The sourcebook isn't available; just do this web reading. I'll be handing out a few pages in class.

Also, we'll be starting class 15 minutes late (6.20pm) this week.

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Kennedy, Dean Rusk, and Robert McNamara during ExComm deliberations

While Guatemala represented the key Latin American initiative of Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy focused his hemispheric diplomacy on Cuba.  In his inaugural address, Kennedy promised that the United States would actively meet the communist threat anywhere in the the world, although his administration's first effort in that regard, the Bay of Pigs affair of 1961, ended disastrously.  Nonetheless, in Operation MONGOOSE, the administration continued to search for ways to oust Fidel Castro from power.
This failure hovered over the administration's response to events in Cuba 18 months later.   After U-2 overflights confirmed, on October 15, 1962, the existence of a Soviet missile site in Cuba, President Kennedy convened the ExComm (executive committtee of the National Security Council) to deliberate the US response. The fourteen days of the crisis saw the administration adopt a quarantine of Cuba as an alternative to an immediate air strike, Kennedy deliver an ominous speech to the American public announcing the discovery of the missiles, UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson engage in a widely broadcast confrontation with Soviet UN ambassador V.I. Zorin about the Soviet intentions in Cuba, and the two sides eventually agree to a withdrawal of the missiles in exchange for a public commitment by the United States not to invade Cuba and a private promise to dismantle NATO's Jupiter Missiles in Turkey.



National Security Archives essays on the missile crisis: selections 1, 2, 3, 4.

President Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Their ardor for confronting communism in the Third World helped contribute to an expanded US commitment in Vietnam. 
Cuba, of course, did not represent the only area of the world that Kennedy adopted an aggressive course. What motivated a President known for his normally astute response to international affairs to dramatically increase the US role in Southeast Asia? What were his long-term intentions toward the region? Did he have other policy options?
bullet Rusk-McNamara report (1961, excerpts), advocating increased aid for South Vietnam
bullet Rusk instructions on handling Ngo Dinh Diem (Aug. 1963)
bullet NSC meeting on Vietnam (Oct. 1963)
bullet National Security Action Memorandum 263 (Oct. 1963)
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Southeast Asia at the time of the Geneva Accords, 1954

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The enemy situation in South Vietnam, early 1964