What do the transcripts from the Cuban Missile Crisis reveals about the decision-making of President Kennedy and his inner circle?  

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

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I think that one of the most intense elements that come out of the transcripts of the discussions regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis is the bevy of information and insight that President Kennedy relied upon in making his decisions.  President Kennedy was not known as one with a vast amount of foreign policy or national defense credentials when he ran for President.  Republican candidate Nixon hammered this point home in his campaigning against the senator from Massachusetts.  Yet, when Kennedy does show in the transcripts is a complete understanding of how decisions are made when they are informed, judiciously studied, as well as debated and discussed with advisers who are able to give multiple points of view on the issue.  The transcripts reveal how different members of the Executive Committee, or "Ex Comm," featured different points of view regarding the crisis.  Vice President Johnson was included to give the Senate point of view on the issue and the President heard him in detail.  Secretary of Defense McNamara rendered his point of view in light of what Secretary of State Rusk offered.  In the transcripts, President Kennedy is asking questions, gaining information, and not resting on the idea of insecurity and doubt being acceptable.  The transcripts show President Kennedy being able to ask questions and gain insight into a situation that is fluid and dangerous, if not handled and understood properly.

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