The module for this week entails decision making and diversion where it is evident in international politics. In particular, this focuses on the notion of how leaders of their country can affect the position of their security, in an international sense. In addition, it illustrates how public opinion stemming from just the country itself can affect the policy choices of leaders. The regime types provided to us, are evident in the films, particularly, Thirteen Days. The two regimes evident are a democracy with the United States and autocracy with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In Wag the Dog, we can see how the media and a questionable choice by a president, can affect international relations. The film Thirteen Days is a reenactment of the 13-day standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The missiles were placed on the island of Cuba after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, where Fidel Castro, the leader of Cuba, sought protection from the Soviet Union. After President Kennedy learns of the missiles from a spy plane that flew over Cuba, he starts to gather his team for ideas on what to do in this sincerely difficult situation in a possible threat to the security of the United States. While the Kennedy administration tries to figure out the best possible solution to remove the missiles without furthering tensions and possibly starting a nuclear war, the media and other countries’ perspective are also a high concern for the president. This can be evident a scene where President Kennedy states, “We just can’t let this get out of hand. And we’re going to do whatever we have to do and make this come out right.” In another scene in the briefing room, brother and Attorney General Robert Kennedy voices his displeasure to the recommend attack on the missile sites, “You’re talking about a sneak attack.
How will that make us look? A big country blasting a little one into the Stone Age. Oh we’ll be everyone’s favorite.” His brother’s statement can relate to the reading Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Game where it states, “International pressures can reverberate into the domestic field to change public opinion” (Putnam). These two statements by the Kennedy brothers symbolize that they both fear that other countries will think of them differently based on what their course of action is. They are concerned that relations with other countries can be strained because of that. As the film progresses, the media starts to somehow figure out what is going on amid reports of a military exercise. A scene in the movie illustrates that is when Ken O’Connell, special assistant to the president, gets into an argument with a reporter. The reporter says, “sounds to me like that exercise is an invasion” and then says, “we’re invading Cuba.” O’Connell in response says, “Damn it, we are not invading Cuba, if you print something like that, all you’re going to do is inflame the situation.”
Here O’Connell is concerned about the media starting to figure out what is actually going on and is afraid media talking about it will alert the Soviet Union that the United States has found about the construction of the missiles. In another scene, President Kennedy tells a publisher on a phone call to hold off on the revealing story and when he asks the reason why, Kennedy says, “Listen Orville, you tell them this, that they’ll be saving lives.” President is again concerned about the media finding out about the situation with Cuba and can possibly give away their knowledge of knowing, too soon for comfort. A scene that illustrates concern about what their neutral countries and the American people will think of the blockade as a response is evident from General LeMay, “I think a blockade or an bunch of political talk would be considered by a lot of our friends and neutrals as an pretty weak response. I suspect that many of our own citizens might feel the same way.” Throughout the film, it demonstrates the constant battle with not only the media, but his committee as well, due to the differing stances they have to the president’s blockade option