The Influence Of Nuclear Weapons During The Cuban Missile Crisis Essay

1700 Words7 Pages
In his article, “The Influence of Nuclear Weapons in the Cuban Missile Crisis,” Marc Trachtenberg considers three historical approaches to the role that nuclear arms played during the 1962 conflict: first, the view that nuclear arms played no role at all, with U.S. and Soviet weapons cancelling each other out, second, the interpretation that the risk involved with nuclear warfare heavily influenced policy making, and finally the view that the strategic imbalance of nuclear force, characterized by a substantial American advantage, significantly impacted the outcome of the crisis. In weighing the three interpretations, Trachtenberg dismisses the first in supporting the existence of the second, using a variety of primary sources to identify instances when decision-makers were influenced by the risk of nuclear warfare. The focus of the article, however, is on advancing and complicating the third approach, which Trachtenberg claims is congruous with the second. In this third section, Trachtenberg advances the approach that the imbalance of nuclear capabilities impacted Soviet strategy but not American decision making. Accordingly, Trachtenberg’s article is characterized by two central claims: that risk of nuclear war influenced policy during the Cuban Missile Crisis and that American nuclear superiority disproportionately affected Soviet decision-making. The majority of Trachtenberg’s article focuses on the disproportionate effect of the nuclear imbalance, but he first
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