What If They Gave a Crisis and Nobody Came? Interpreting International Crises


If wars are too important to be left to the generals, crises are too dangerous to be left exclusively to the social scientists. Humanistic inquiry has not realized its potential for illuminating these wars of words. Crises occur in a realm foreign to prevailing approaches, but familiar to interpretive approaches to politics. Decision-makers are no longer observers of unmistakable threats: they are interpreters of cryptic texts and symbolic performances. Accordingly, analysts (quite unwittingly) have become interpreters of interpretations--crises inquiry occurs in the archives, not the laboratory. Relying upon a hermeneutic approach used to illuminate crises at other times and places, Hirschbein explores the puzzling aspects of defining Kennedy, Nixon, and Kissinger episodes: Why is Kennedy's joust on the brink enshrined as the unforgettable Cuban missile crises, while Nixon and Kissingers' prudent resolution of a comparable threat is all but forgotten? This novel account of crises construction, management, and remembrance explores how and why these events were handled so differently, and concludes that it is not the world that is the source of our crises, but our interpretation of the world.

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