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Constructing National Interests

The United States and the Cuban Missile Crisis

1999
Author:

Jutta Weldes

Constructing National Interests

Uses the Cuban missile crisis to examine a concept central to International relations.

Not simply an “event” or merely an “incident,” the 1962 standoff between the U. S. and the Soviet Union over missiles in Cuba was a crisis, which subsequently has achieved almost mythic significance in the annals of United States foreign policy. Here, Weldes analyzes the so-called Cuban missile crisis as a means to rethink the idea of national interest, a notion central to both the study and practice of international relations.

Constructing National Interests is a brilliant piece of work that yields historically and theoretically important conclusions. Weldes shows that it is possible to use nontraditional methods and epistemologies and yet be clear, subtle, sophisticated, insightful, and persuasive.

David A. Welch, University of Toronto

Not simply an “event” or merely an “incident,” the 1962 standoff between the U. S. and the Soviet Union over missiles in Cuba was a crisis, which subsequently has achieved almost mythic significance in the annals of United States foreign policy. Jutta Weldes asks why this occurrence in particular should be cast as a crisis, and how this so significantly affected “the national interest.” Here, Weldes analyzes the so-called Cuban missile crisis as a means to rethink the idea of national interest, a notion central to both the study and practice of international relations.

Why did the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba constitute a crisis for U.S. state officials and thus a dire threat to U.S. national interests? It was, Weldes suggests, more a matter of discursive construction than of objective facts or circumstances. Drawing on social theory and on concepts from cultural studies, she exposes the “realities” of the crisis as social creations in the service of a particular and precarious U.S. state identity defined within the Cold War U.S. “security imaginary.”

Constructing National Interests shows how this process allowed for a redefining of the identities, interests, and likely actions of various states, so that it seemed to logically serve the U.S. national interest in removing the missiles from Cuba.

ISBN 0-8166-3110-7 Cloth £00.00 $47.95xx
ISBN 0-8166-3111-5 Paper £00.00 $18.95x
264 Pages 5 7/8 x 9 August
Borderlines Series, volume 12
Translation inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

Constructing National Interests

Jutta Weldes is assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Kent State University.

Constructing National Interests

Constructing National Interests is a brilliant piece of work that yields historically and theoretically important conclusions. Weldes shows that it is possible to use nontraditional methods and epistemologies and yet be clear, subtle, sophisticated, insightful, and persuasive.

David A. Welch, University of Toronto

Constructing National Interests

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Problem of National Interests

1. Representing Missiles in Cuba
2. The View from the ExComm
3. Constructing National Interests
4. Constructing the Cuban Missile Crisis: Cold War Representations
5. Constructing the Cuban Missile Crisis: The Problem of Cuba
6. Identity and National Interests: The United States as the Subject of the Cuban Missile Crisis
7. National Interests and Common Sense

Notes
References
Index