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Date Published:Mar 1, 2000
The documents concerning the Cuban missile crisis, declassified by the Office of the Historian of the U.S. Department of State, reveal quite effectively a key theme in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy in 1962–63: Cuba's bizarre role within the context of U.S. government decision making. This role had somewhat contradictory dimensions.
Cuba seemed to be both an afterthought and an obsession for U.S. decision makers. Its exclusion from the diplomatic negotiations over the missile crisis was an instance of negligence, though it came about in part from a deliberate decision. Such Cuban exclusion reduced the likelihood that the United States could accomplish all of its goals in the missile crisis settlement. Moreover, information included in these documents only to some degree (or not at all) calls attention to Cuba's much greater substantive importance before and during the missile crisis than U.S. officials thought at the time. This documentary record, therefore, reminds us that the outcome of the missile crisis was so positive for the United States, to a significant degree, thanks to Soviet statesmanship in managing and controlling its unhappy Cuban ally.