13 days — negotiations analysis


General Maxwell Taylor,

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff


General Curtis LeMay,

Air Force Chief of Staff

13 President, Jack Kennedy

This is the scene where the representatives of the USA Army try to persuade the President to start military actions against Cuba and Soviet Union. During the scene two generals used the tactics of united, two-against-one persuasion, pressing him with their authority, limiting the time and hurrying the President to take final ‘right’ decision.

The sources of power are the following:

  • Reward power. Mr. LeMay and Mr. Tailor have the power to make the future safety available and guarantee this if only Jack Kennedy approves their plan.
  • Coercive power. This kind of power is some kind of inversion, hidden and veiled but still presented, as long as generals can’t really possess coerce power overtly to Jack Kennedy, they threaten the President with the possibility of WW3 and being the source of this events only supplementary, however their (and military) omission can lead to the danger that President can’t prevent without Army Forces.
  • Expert power. Mr. LeMay and Mr. Tailor have knowledge and expertise in the question of hostilities, they are proficient in missiles, their characteristics and time for installation.
  • Legitimate Power. Legal legitimate power comes from the generals’ position in the government as the defenders of the nation’s piece and protection. Moreover, generally, the President as the Supreme Commander is connected with the Army and Generals in terms of solidarity and mutuality in the face of the world trouble.

Strategies used in this episode:

  • Promise strategy. They both use as reward the future promised piece in the USA and them as the only tools being able to achieve this piece. They are insisting that attack will guarantee protection. The generals here are the generators and producers of this ‘piece’ in the world but only by means of war. 
  • Threat strategy. Both LeMay and Taylor, who was additionally frightening the President with the possibility of WW3 and a lot of aspects of unfavorable consequences. They state that if their plan wasn’t finally put in action the catastrophe will begin. 
  • Legalistic strategy is used in connection with already started mobilization and persuading him to remain consistent to his previous ‘commitment’ to start war.
  • Recommendation strategy. Generals exchange the information with the President and then insist on the only one final decision. A caveat with a large share of pressure and manipulation is often used here.

02:03:51,562 — 02:06:15,511 (fragment 15)

14 Ambassador Dobrynin
15 Bob Kennedy

During this meeting both protagonists were trying to persuade each other in some terms of agreement, trying to reach consensus, using different tactics and strategies of their power.
However, both Ambassador Dobrynin and Bob Kennedy being equal in this negotiations wanted to prevent the war, and much was dependent on them, both understood the prospective possible deleterious consequences of this meeting, at the same time representing their home country they were unable to meet all the demands of the counterpart.

Mr. Dobrynin as well as Mr. Kennedy had some sources of power, quite similar to each other at this rank, were skillfully using them to achieve their aims.

Mr. Dobrynin and Mr. Kennedy both have only two sources of power in this situation: reward and coercive. First of all, Soviet Ambassador had in his arsenal and applied only promise and threat strategies, promising to remove the missiles in return to the liquidation of US missiles in Turkey or threatening to facilitate the war in the opposite case.

From his turn, Bob Kennedy was using several strategies:

  • Promise strategy. He stressed that if the missiles were removed (as US government desired) his government would stop the Cuba quarantine and would never invade it in future. Later, he proposed a plan that if the Soviet missiles on Cuba were removed now, US government would remove Turkish missiles later and secretly from present deal.
  • Threat strategy. Mr. Kennedy showed that his country would meet the challenge and counter stand this situation if the missiles were not removed and the war would be started.
  • Request strategy. Bob Kennedy simply requested at the beginning what was his and President’s position and wishes and at the end while pointing the deadlines Mr. Kennedy provokes some pressure stressing the limited time to get the answer.
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