Examine the importance of what the recorded transcripts reveal about the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I tend to think that one of the most striking elements revealed in the transcripts of the Cuban Missile Crisis discussion is how President Kennedy sought to fully understand the implications of the situation before action was taken.  The President is shown to ask questions of both the situation in terms of the conditions on the ground as well as his team of advisers as to what should be done.  He is not rash or impetuous, as much as he focused on what needs to be done and the path that has to be taken.  Consider what the President says after a lengthy exchange with Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, and Mac Bundy:

Holding the alliance. Which thing would strain the alliance more ? This attack by us on Cuba, which is by most Allies regard as a fixation of the US, and not a serious military threat ? We would have to apply conditions before have to go in, before they would accept to support our action against Cuba, because they think that we're slightly demented on this subject, so there isn't any doubt, whatever action we take against Cuba no matter how good our films are, that will cause Latin America and a lot of people would regard this as a mad act by the US which is due to a loss of nerve because they would argue that taken at its worst, the presence of these missiles really does not change the military view.

The transcripts reveal a President who understood the implications of what action meant and one that sought to take the advice of others before committing action that would be decisive and forceful. I tend to think that President Kennedy's focus and understanding of one of the most complex situations in modern American History becomes one of the strongest revelations out of the transcripts.

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