Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Stanford University


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Essence of Victory: Winning and Losing International Crises

Journal Article

Dominic D. P. Johnson - Science Fellow 2003-2004 at CISAC
Dominic Tierney

Published by
Security Studies, Vol. 13 no. 2, page(s) 350-381

This article uses the case of the Cuban Missile Crisis to illustrate the criteria by which victory and defeat are assessed in international crises. The evidence suggests that few objective criteria are actually used in such evaluations. Indeed, examination of the specific terms of crisis settlements can prove to be less important than a range of factors that do not conform to traditional rational actor assumptions. These include: i) prior biases in perception, ii) the experience of the crisis itself and the subsequent way in which it becomes framed, and iii) public opinion management during and after the crisis. This analysis has significant implications for policymakers who have to deal with the aftermath of a crisis, and also for the wider public and media, if governments are to be held accountable for their foreign policy.