Amanda Nasca November 20th 2011 Power “Thirteen Days” Legitimate power stems from the belief that a person has the right to influence others by virtue of holding a position of authority, such as the authority of a manager over a subordinate or of a teacher over a student (ENotes. com). In some respects, everyone has power—the power to either push forward or hinder the goals of the organization by making decisions, delegating decisions, delaying decisions, rejecting decisions, or supporting decisions.

However, the effective use of power does not mean control. Power can be detrimental to the goals of the organization if held by those who use it to enhance their own positions and thereby prevent the advancement of the goals of the organization. In the film “Thirteen Days” the aspect of power is displayed from the president of the United States, John F Kennedy. The president is considered by many people to be the most powerful man in the world.

I disagree with that statement, and here’s why.

While technically the president of the US has almost absolute power because according to the Constitution he is the commander and chief of the armed forces, therefore, the president can make a decision on his own without getting approval of anyone in the United States. This is an example of the president’s formal power because the constitution, which is the overriding law of the land, states that he is commander and chief of the armed forces, While the president has formal power it is not unlimited power.

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Thirteen Days Viewing Guide

The Cuban Missile Crisis is what the film is centered around, and during this crisis the president could have done what he wanted to do and be legally correct without the consent or approval of congress. Without needing the consent of any political party, he could have decided to do a first strike against the Soviet Union, but he did not make that choice. While his power seems to be absolute, in reality he does need a certain amount of consensus and approval before he can act.

For example, in the in the film he needed to listen to the opinion of his advisors, the secretary of state, secretary of defense, the joint chiefs of staff, and our allies around the world, before making any final decisions. He could come up with a plan of action, but then he needed these groups to agree on what they want to do. Though his power seems absolute, no man is an island. In further support of my opinion that the president power is not absolute we need to look at the personality of JFK.

He did not just look at a situation and make a decision on his own, he sought out the options of others. Some of the reasons for this can well be because of President Kennedys age, he was younger and less experiences than his secretary of state, secretary of defense, and joint chiefs of staff. To JFK’s credit he realized that the greatness of a leader comes from the greatness of the people that he surrounds himself with; a great leader depends on great advisors. The role of his advisors is to provide him with accurate information to help him make the final decision.

Despite his absolute power, to some degree, he is also dependent on the information his advisors provide him in order to make a decision. Throughout the film there were numerous times when the President and all of his advisors were sitting in a room together debating what the next best course of action is. President Kennedy did not make the decision himself, he seemed to just step aside frequently and allow his advisors to come to a conclusion that himself and everyone else could agree on.

The knowledge that the joint chiefs of staff had concerning the power of the American military and the effectiveness of the Soviet military gave them power because their input was crucial to President Kennedy’s decision making. In a sense JFK was dependent on the knowledge of the military strategy that the joint chief of staff possessed. While the president had the formal power, he had to depend on the information provided to him by the joint chiefs, who had less formal power than he had. (Chou)

In conclusion, what the Cuban Missile Crisis demonstrated is that while the president had the formal power his advisors showed the level of power and influence they possessed in their role with their president. They didn’t have formal power or legal power, but their power comes from their knowledge and their experience in their position, this power would be called personal power. The president’s advisor’s knowledge created a sphere of influence for the president, this knowledge can be known as informal power.

Their opinions carry weight and importance, but yet they have no formal authority. The president who had all the formal power needed to rely on those with informal power to guide his decisions. Sources: “Management: Authority and Responsibility – ENotes. com. ” ENotes – Literature Study Guides, Lesson Plans, and More. Web. 20 Nov. 2011. <http://www. enotes. com/management-authority-responsibility-reference/management-authority-responsibility>. Thirteen Days. Dir. Roger Donaldson. New Line Cinema Presents, 2000. Chou, Andy. “Power and Politics. ” Lecture/Slides.

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Thirteen Days Essay. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

Thirteen Days Essay
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