Robert Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis

An analysis of the role of Robert Kennedy in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis through his negotiations.

This essay will argue, this role was not simply one of “hawk” or “dove”. Rather, Robert Kennedy’s position – as did the position of many in Washington in those days – moved depending upon what decision appeared to offer the most room to negotiate among a group of generally negative options. However, it was in his extra-constitutional role as an extension of the President’s will that Robert Kennedy played a dominant role in the Cuban Missile Crisis in three respects. His “negotiations” with the Soviets – often unofficial and conducted outside the usual channels of diplomacy – ensured the maintenance of lines of communication between Moscow and Washington in this crucial time.

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