What is groupthink According to the hypothesis of Psychology scholar Irving Janis, groupthink is a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members??™ striving for unanimity overrides their motivation to realistically appraises alternative courses of action (Janis).
Groups tend to be successful due to the varied ideas of group members, as a group members tend to be focused while working together. Groups can be advantageous in multiple situations. They are valuable to individuals because they are able to learn new skills, get feedback from others, and recognize their own strengths and weaknesses (Janis). Also groups accomplish tasks that individuals cannot do on their own. Some examples of groupthink that have been studied is the United States failures to anticipate the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the escalation of Vietnam war, and the ill-fated hostage rescue in Iran.? Current examples of groupthink can be found in the decisions of the Bush administration and Congress to pursue an invasion of Iraq based on a policy of preventive use of military force against terrorists and rogue nations.? The decision to rush to war in Iraq before a broad-based coalition of allies could be built has placed the United States in an unenviable military situation in Iraq that is costly in terms of military deaths and casualties, diplomatic standing in the world, and economically (Thompson 4). Groupthink can be applied to multiple situations, especially to the world of politics
As illustrated in the text, Case Histories in International Politics; the Cuban Missile Crisis was the resulted from the lack of a decision-making process. Although the crisis ended peacefully after brutal negation and flawed intelligence, it could have been handled differently. Perhaps if the method of groupthink had not been avoided the end results of the crisis would have been considered controlled rather than a case of luck (Stiles 91). Evidence of groupthink being avoided was illustrated by President Kennedy when he brought in other distinguished leaders outside his primary decision making team also his brother Robert F. Kennedy purposely acted as an antagonist to challenge different points of view. In continuation the administration acknowledged severe dangers even after arriving at a decision; there was also a precise discussion of moral issues, reversals of judgments, non-stereotypical views of the enemy, and an avoidance of humiliation to allow Khrushchev a face-saving way out of the crisis. In addition,
President Kennedy consciously absent from a number of the sessions of the Executive Committee, so that opinions were not limited due to his appearance. Painstaking efforts employed by the Kennedy administration allowed for the peaceful resolution to the crisis (Thompson 6).
The reason the crisis began was because of Khrushchev, he had hoped to attain balance in nuclear power; with a desire to protect Cuba from invasion of the United States, considering reports stated that the United States advantaged in number, quality, and deployment of nuclear missiles. Khrushchevs other goal was to keep Castro in the Soviet camp, rather than failing to China. Khrushchevs original plan was to secretly deploy several medium-range missiles along with defensive antiaircraft, in hopes of forcing the United States to accept the change in strategic balance (Stiles 83).
In the end after serious contemplation and all the options, the crisis ended with a compromise. The United States pledged not to invade Cuba and outdated United States Jupiter missiles in Turkey would be secretly dismantled at an undetermined later date. The missiles in Turkey were removed later to avoid the appearance of a negotiated quid pro quo settlement, while the Soviets were required to immediately removal the Soviet missiles from Cuba. In consequence, it appeared as if the Soviets unilaterally withdrew the deployed nuclear missiles in Cuba in the face of American military pressure. Because the Soviets upheld the negotiated arrangement to keep the removal of the missiles from Turkey secret, that perception remained (Stiles 89).
In conclusion the Cuban Missile Crisis is an important event in history in the aspect that the United States was able to learn from the event in multiple ways. Specifically the United States was able to learn to build a better decision-making process. Although the United States lucked out according to Robert MeNamara in prevent a nuclear war, does not mean that the United States was not capable of making reasonable decisions (Stiles 91). Because of this event in history the United States was able to later analyze this event and use the flaws to build a stronger decision-making process, although it may not groupthink nor perfect quite yet it is a work in progress in protecting the people of the United States.
Janis, L.J. (1972). Victims of groupthink. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Stiles, Kendall. Case Histories in International Politics. New York: Pearson Longman, 2004
Thompson, Joseph T. “THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS IN CONTEXT.” RIVIER ACADEMIC JOURNAL (2010): 4- 10.