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Berlin shivers as Cold War warriors set to clash: The Kennedy administration's deterrence policy in the Berlin Crisis of 1961

Grogan, Emma (2014) Berlin shivers as Cold War warriors set to clash: The Kennedy administration's deterrence policy in the Berlin Crisis of 1961. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

In order for a deterrence policy to be effective and credible, there needs to be a successful application of certain fundamental principles. Of these, one of the most important is perception. Perception, in this context, is defined as the neurological process of observation and interpretation. This dissertation examines the role of perception in the foreign policy making process during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. The focus is primarily on the actions of the two protagonists in the crisis, U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev. The dissertation argues that Kennedy embarked upon an unprecedented U.S. deterrence policy, known as Flexible' Response, to bolster his credibility as an enforcer of deterrence and a champion of the U.S. commitment to Berlin. Moreover, it is suggested that Kennedy’s success in implementing the Flexible Response policy in the context of a highly volatile situation was to a great extent assisted by the Soviet leader’s own perception of Kennedy’s resolve. It is beyond the scope of this dissertation to fully assess the foreign policy strategy of the U.S. or the U.S.S.R. on the European continent during the early 1960s. Instead, this dissertation aims to demonstrate that Kennedy astutely applied the necessary criteria of a successful deterrence policy. The evidence of this success is seen in Khrushchev’s changing perception of the American leader during the course of the crisis. This changing perception was sufficiently credible to deter the Soviet leader from sanctioning a separate German peace treaty.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Webster, Andrew and Crossland, James
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/24804
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