Essence of Decision (Second Edition) by Graham Allison & Philip Zelikow. pages, New York: Longman, Reviewed by Barton J. Bernstein n Buy Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Alternative Etext Formats) 2 by Graham T. Allison, Philip Zelikow (ISBN: ) from. Graham T. Allison – The Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. Chapter (PDF . Philip!Zelikow,!it!introduces!some!new!insights!based!on!.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Essence of Decision by Graham T. Professor Allison analyzes the Cuban missile crisis in terms of three alternative frames of reference. By examining it first through one set of conceptual lenses, then through a second, and finally through a “Essence of Decision” is both a vivid account of a crucial international event and a breakthrough in the application of organizational and political theory to events.
By examining it first through one set of conceptual lenses, then through a second, and finally through a third, he explores some of the fundamental yet often unrecognized choices among the categories and assumptions that channel our thinking and thus influence our decisions and the outcomes in situations such as the missile crisis.
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Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis
A difficult read, but totally worth it. This book analyzes the steps which led to an almost nuclear war inbetween the Soviet Union and Zelikoow.essence.
It uses three models to express three different layers of analysis, making it easy for the reader to follow the reasoning behind them. Recommend it zelioow.essence you’re interested in the subject. Jan 12, CJ rated it really liked it. In a way, this is two parallel books.
It touches on the origin, use, misuse, critiques, and benefits of these models – the rational actor model, the organizational behaviorism model, and the political game model. The other book explains the Cuban missile crisis through each of the above models. The book explains how those models explain different par In a way, this is two parallel books. The book explains how those models explain different parts of the Cuban missile crisis differently better?
I liked the book but I haven’t read much international relations so most of the book was new to me.
Jan 27, Knarik Gasparyan rated it it was amazing Shelves: With more details about the chronology of Soviet decisionmaking and the particular oc, the Cuban defense hypothesis becomes less plausible and the missile power hypothesis more. But as the Model I analyst includes still more information about Khrushchev, alliwon personal stakes and commitments, and what he said and thought at the time much of it newly availablethe story acquires a new shape, linking the missile power hypothesis to a strategy for success in Berlin.
He sees his choice as one between deccision nuclear crisis over Cuba in October or a nuclear crisis over Berlin—and under less advantageous circumstances—in November. An attack on Cuba could provoke a riposte against Berlin. A blockade applied only to items not being transported to Berlin seems a logical middle ground. The tapes and other newly declassified documents reveal a more complex set of options than previously understood, including two critically different variants of the blockade.
Essence of Decision – Wikipedia
Model II focuses attention on what the relevant government organizations could do, could not do, and would be disposed to do without magisterial direction. Many aspects of the Soviet deployment to Cuba could not be explained by Model I. But this blockade creates new dangers, for example, conducting antisubmarine tactics against submarines that, unbeknownst to Washington, were nuclear-armed. Kennedy sets his military forces in motion to signal Khrushchev, but the Model II story again sets in motion vast organizational actions that interact with others in frightening ways that the president can barely imagine try as he does, for example, in the case of the Emergency Defense Plan for Turkey.
When Jupiter missiles in Turkey become a focal point in the crisis, new evidence reveals that Kennedy encountered a State Department that had plugged his concerns into its preexisting plans for a multilateral nuclear force, however irrelevant that plan was to the exigencies of a nuclear crisis. Relying on haphazard and often incorrect information, and without any sustained analysis of the sort commonplace in the American process, he manages a sullen, sporadic group of advisors and rivals.
Indeed, his most competent expert on American affairs is not even informed that the missiles are being deployed.
In Washington, discovery of the Soviet missiles is a story of a political tug of war between powerful officials. But in the second week he seems so resigned to military action that he sees new virtues and possibilities in trying a surprise attack against Cuba.
In the final resolution of the crisis, Model III helps us see new dynamics. But it is a story in which they are informed, misled, persuaded, or ignored by the officials around them, in some cases for better and in some for worse. Almost every day the choices the leaders must make are zelikow.ezsence by the way information and circumstances are brought to them for action.
Model III also sees the leaders as influenced by their place and peculiar responsibilities, the singular burden that falls on the one person with ultimate authority to order nuclear war. It is a lonely burden the president and the chairman share, and at the climax of the crisis a bond that helps them find a way out.
The need for all three lenses is evident when one considers the causal bottom line. Explanation means zelikow.esseence the blockade in a pattern of purposive response to the strategic problem. The analyst emphasizes organizational capacities and constraints both in choice and implementation.
Organizational behavior explains identification of the problem on October 14 rather than two weeks zrlikow.essence or later ; organizational routines defined the options; organizations implemented the blockade. Explanation starts with existing organizations and their repertory of routines at t-1 and attempts to account for what is going on at time t. The Model III analyst makes vivid the action of players in the relevant games that produced pieces of the collage that is the blockade.
Bargaining among players who shared power but saw separate problems yielded: The blockade eventually emerges from the mix of these considerations. In the absence of a number of particular characteristics of players and games, the action chosen would have been materially different.
Oct 14, gaby rated it really liked it Shelves: What a fun read on the 50th sllison of the Cuban missile crisis! An engaging book about different models of allieon and leadership behavior, each told through the example of this strange decislon fascinating moment in diplomacy and chance. Recommended for students and citizens interested in organizational theory, game theory, bureaucratic theory, and yes, the Cuban missile crisis.
Jan 27, Linda rated it it was amazing. The fo org behavior book i’ve read to date. May 05, Billy rated it it was ok Shelves: Zelikoww.essence second model, the Organizational Behavior Model, accounts for the influence of organizations and institutions on decision making processes. The third and final model, which focuses on governmental politics, examines how separated institutions share power and the effects of group processes on decision making.
The result og a thought provoking but inconclusive look at the most dangerous thirteen days of the atomic era. Allison and Zelikow never take a zelikow.eswence stance on the correct method of analysis for the crisis. The end result zelikow.essehce a book meant to inform and advise policymakers on how to read this historic event that never actually does so.
What the book does make clear is the influence economic theory has had on IR theory and policy decisions.
Put simply, the authors never explicitly recognize aloison their models are based in a western economic tradition. These models rely heavily on the maximization of utility and the minimization of threat or danger. The minimax theorem, as first formulated in by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, seems to have influenced all policy decisions of the Cold War.
The authors also never effectively show how both sides of a nuclear balance require equal information of the effects and repercussions znd in a first or second strike. MAD establishes this balance.
Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd Edition
Put simply, they pronounce their biases of political and diplomatic theory by espousing models based in western economic logic. Yet these models are applied to a situation in which the other side, the USSR, based its political ideology in opposition to such western based economic theories. Why is this divide never examined? How stable was the balance between the nuclear superpowers if each side based their diplomacy on completely different ideologies?
In all fairness, these critiques do not address the book on its own merits. Yet these comments reveal an unforeseen argument inherent in Essence of Decision: It is a work that offers no conclusive advice on how to approach policymaking, yet Allison and Zelikow have utilized modernity-based models and economics to endorse a sort of post-modern inconclusiveness.
If nothing else, the book shows just how lucky the superpowers were in escaping nuclear war in October of Aug 27, Seth Benzell rated it liked it Shelves: Despite only rating this book at 3 stars, I do not regret picking it up. While quite dry, the book takes a unique approach, mixing day-by-day detailed history with abstract theory. I went into this book knowing about the Cuban Missile Crisis in only a vague sketchy way. I felt more comfortable with IR theory, having minored in it at Tulane. I could only take the book’s claims about the missile crisis at face value.
I definitely disagreed with, or found unhelpful, with a bunch of the theory The book alternates theory chapters with analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis through the lens of the previous chapter’s theory. The book considers three models of international politics, which it calls: All of these models, especially the first because it is the simplest, come in different flavors.
In the first section, the book makes a compelling case that Khrushchev’s decision to place missiles in Cuba had nothing to do with protecting Cuba. Rather it was an attempt to change the balance of missile power despite having run on the idea of a ‘Missile Gap’, the US actually had a tremendous nuclear advantage over the USSR at this point and ultimately strengthen Khrushchev’s hand when a conflict was anticipated to emerge over Berlin later in the year.
Had the missiles been secretly installed and revealed as a fait accomplis, Khrushchev would have been seen as a strategic genius.
As it was, the missiles were discovered. The US response of a blockade was optimal — it leveraged the strong US tactical advantages e.