Neorealism: War Avoided In Thirteen Days

2012 words - 9 pages

Preferred Tools
Both states have certain tools that they prefer to wield and one of these is secrecy. On the American side, spies, observation flights, and suppressed journalism were used to achieve American goals, and the Soviet Union paralleled this. The Soviet Union continuously denied placing offensive weapons in Cuba, then resorted to attempting to prevent evidence from being revealed (though unsuccessfully). Secrecy is used by both states to coerce the other into certain actions by putting them in unfavourable positions. This tool is in line with neorealism’s ideas. Neorealism believes that the anarchic system in place “makes it impossible for governments to fully trust each other.” Within both the film and the theory, such a sentiment translates into secrecy. There can be no cooperation between the two on matters of international interest and all actions that are taken must be done without the other’s knowledge. Neorealism advocates the use of secrecy as a tool of international relations and this tool is depicted within the film.
The two states also used diplomacy in both a public and private forum. Publically, the two condemned one another in the UN, but the most significant diplomacy occurred in private. The duo interacted with each other most meaningfully through secret telegrams and backchannel negotiations, and it was through secret diplomacy that an agreement was reached. Once again, neorealism is displayed as its ideas about international organizations are reinforced. For neorealists, international organizations exist and can be utilized, but are not significant in situations of national interest or survival. The film depicts this concept for while the UN is used to try to gain public support, the UN does not function to create a solution to the conflict. Instead, it was secret diplomacy, meetings conducted without public knowledge, that was successful at creating a solution.
One more tool was used by both sides: force. Throughout the conflict, there was evidence of both sides utilizing, military action. The United States enacted a blockade of Cuba, an action that was “technically an act of war,” followed by firing warning shots at Soviet ships and planned airstrikes and invasions. Opposing them, the Soviets tested the blockade, resulting in a stand off, and also shot at American observation planes, even taking one out of the air. Both used force to accomplish an end goal – the Americans got the missiles out of Cuba and the Soviets received a promise of American missiles being removed from Turkey. However, their mutual desires for survival kept them from utilizing their full capabilities. Therefore, the film relates back to neorealism. Within neorealism, “force remains an important and an effective tool of statecraft.” However, neorealism also accounts for the desire to survive, placing survival of the state as the primary goal. These two facets of neorealism were revealed in the movie as both...

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