Please watch the movie, Thirteen Days. It is not a documentary but is based on the events that took place over a thirteen day period in October 1962. I am not assigning the movie to teach history but rather because it addresses issues related to both decision-making and negotiation. From an historical perspective, this was one of the most important and successful negotiations of all time.
If you have access to HBOgo or a subscription to Hulu, you can stream the movie there. If not, I can send you a link to a I mediocre-quality Zoom video recording.
The events described are pretty self-explanatory. However, as a little historical background, John F. Kennedy was president, having taken office in January 1961. Two characters are shown as his inner circle and confidants: Bobby Kennedy, his younger brother and Attorney General and Kenny O’Donnell, a special assistant.
The movie mentions three historical events that shaped people’s thinking and arguments. First, the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, a Kennedy approved CIA-backed invasion of mainland Cuban by anti-Castro Cubans. It was a political and diplomatic disaster for Kennedy and his presidency and he did not want to repeat the mistakes that lead to that debacle. Second, the 1938 Munich Agreement, when the UK, France, and Italy basically gave Hitler Czechoslovakia in the hope that it would appease Hitler so that war could be avoided. No one wanted to repeat that kind of mistake. Third, the events of August 1914 (described in the book The Guns of August) when a series of decisions made by different European governments lead to the horrific and pointless outbreak of World War I.
October 1962 was in the middle of the Cold War with both the US and Soviet Union facing each other with nuclear missile arsenals. Cuba is an island about 100 miles away from Florida and at that time was a Communist country with Russian-backed Fidel Castro as its President. Russia had a military presence in Cuba. Since the end of World War II, Germany had been divided into a Western-backed West Germany and a Russian backed East Germany. The city of Berlin itself was also divided into two parts, a West Berlin and an East Berlin. West Berlin itself was surrounded by Russian-backed East Berlin.
I have posted questions that you will need to answer after you watch the movie. This is NOT a group exercise. You are expected to answer the questions by yourself and I will deduct points if I believe you worked with any of your classmates. I simply want you to demonstrate that you understand some of the most fundamental concepts of the negotiating process.
Enclosed please find 5 questions and please answer all these questions in 2-3 pages (including questions which is around half of a page).