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The Two Faces of American Power: Military and Political Communication during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kybernetes 35 (3/4) (2006) 547-566.Deinema, Michaël; Leydesdorff, Loet (2006)Purpose: The mismatches between political discourse and military momentum in the American handling of the Cuban missile crisis are explained by using the model of the potential autopoiesis of subsystems. Under wartime conditions, the codes of political and military communications can increasingly be differentiated. Design/methodology/approach: The model of a further differentiation between political and military power is developed on the basis of a detailed description of the Cuban missile crisis. We introduce the concept of a “semi-dormant autopoiesis” for the difference in the dynamics between peacetime and wartime conditions. Findings: Several dangerous incidents during the crisis can be explained by a sociocybernetic model focusing on communication and control, but not by using an organization-theoretical approach. The further differentiation of the military as a subsystem became possible in the course of the twentieth century because of ongoing learning processes about previous wars. Practical implications: Politicians should not underestimate autonomous military processes or the significance of standing orders. In order to continually produce communications within the military, communication partners are needed that stand outside of the hierarchy, and this role can be fulfilled by an enemy. A reflexively imagined enemy can thus reinforce the autopoiesis of the military subsystem. Originality/value: The paper shows that civilian control over military affairs has become structurally problematic and offers a sociocybernetic explanation of the missile crisis. The potential alternation in the dynamics under peacetime and wartime.