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Ngjarja si ka ndodhur historikisht

In a televised speech of extraordinary gravity, President John F.

Kennedy announces that U.S. spy planes have discovered Soviet missile
bases in Cuba. These missile sitesunder construction but nearing
completionhoused medium-range missiles capable of striking a number of
major cities in the United States, including Washington, D.C. Kennedy
announced that he was ordering a naval quarantine of Cuba to prevent
Soviet ships from transporting any more offensive weapons to the island and
explained that the United States would not tolerate the existence of the missile
sites currently in place. The president made it clear that America would not
stop short of military action to end what he called a clandestine, reckless, and
provocative threat to world peace.

What is known as the Cuban Missile Crisis actually began on October 15,
1962the day that U.S. intelligence personnel analyzing U-2 spy plane data
discovered that the Soviets were building medium-range missile sites in Cuba.
The next day, President Kennedy secretly convened an emergency meeting of
his senior military, political, and diplomatic advisers to discuss the ominous
development. The group became known as ExCom, short for Executive
Committee. After rejecting a surgical air strike against the missile sites,
ExCom decided on a naval quarantine and a demand that the bases be
dismantled and missiles removed. On the night of October 22, Kennedy went
on national television to announce his decision. During the next six days, the
crisis escalated to a breaking point as the world tottered on the brink of
nuclear war between the two superpowers.

On October 23, the quarantine of Cuba began, but Kennedy decided to give
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev more time to consider the U.S. action by
pulling the quarantine line back 500 miles. By October 24, Soviet ships en
route to Cuba capable of carrying military cargoes appeared to have slowed
down, altered, or reversed their course as they approached the quarantine,
with the exception of one shipthe tanker Bucharest. At the request of more
than 40 nonaligned nations, U.N. Secretary-General U Thant sent private
appeals to Kennedy and Khrushchev, urging that their governments refrain
from any action that may aggravate the situation and bring with it the risk of
war. At the direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. military forces went to
DEFCON 2, the highest military alert ever reached in the postwar era, as
military commanders prepared for full-scale war with the Soviet Union.

On October 25, the aircraft carrier USS Essex and the destroyer
USS Gearing attempted to intercept the Soviet tanker Bucharest as it crossed
over the U.S. quarantine of Cuba. The Soviet ship failed to cooperate, but the
U.S. Navy restrained itself from forcibly seizing the ship, deeming it unlikely
that the tanker was carrying offensive weapons. On October 26, Kennedy
learned that work on the missile bases was proceeding without interruption,
and ExCom considered authorizing a U.S. invasion of Cuba. The same day,
the Soviets transmitted a proposal for ending the crisis: The missile bases
would be removed in exchange for a U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba.

The next day, however, Khrushchev upped the ante by publicly calling for the
dismantling of U.S. missile bases in Turkey under pressure from Soviet military
commanders. While Kennedy and his crisis advisers debated this dangerous
turn in negotiations, a U-2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba, and its pilot,
Major Rudolf Anderson, was killed. To the dismay of the Pentagon, Kennedy
forbid a military retaliation unless any more surveillance planes were fired
upon over Cuba. To defuse the worsening crisis, Kennedy and his advisers
agreed to dismantle the U.S. missile sites in Turkey but at a later date, in order
to prevent the protest of Turkey, a key NATO member.

On October 28, Khrushchev announced his governments intent to dismantle

and remove all offensive Soviet weapons in Cuba. With the airing of the public
message on Radio Moscow, the USSR confirmed its willingness to proceed
with the solution secretly proposed by the Americans the day before. In the
afternoon, Soviet technicians began dismantling the missile sites, and the
world stepped back from the brink of nuclear war. The Cuban Missile Crisis
was effectively over. In November, Kennedy called off the blockade, and by the
end of the year all the offensive missiles had left Cuba. Soon after, the United
States quietly removed its missiles from Turkey.

The Cuban Missile Crisis seemed at the time a clear victory for the United
States, but Cuba emerged from the episode with a much greater sense of
security.The removal of antiquated Jupiter missiles from Turkey had no
detrimental effect on U.S. nuclear strategy, but the Cuban Missile Crisis
convinced a humiliated USSR to commence a massive nuclear buildup. In the
1970s, the Soviet Union reached nuclear parity with the United States and
built intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking any city in the United

A succession of U.S. administrations honored Kennedys pledge not to invade

Cuba, and relations with the communist island nation situated just 80 miles
from Florida remained a thorn in the side of U.S. foreign policy for more than
50 years. In 2015, officials from both nations announced the formal
normalization of relations between the U.S and Cuba, which included the
easing of travel restrictions and the opening of embassies and diplomatic
missions in both countries.


The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

Si me kuptu ate krize dhe zgjidhja e krizave ne kohen tone

On the morning of October 16, 1962, National Security Advisor

McGeorge Bundy informed President John F. Kennedy that U.S.
surveillance aircraft had discovered the presence of Soviet missiles in
Cuba, just 90 miles from American soil. It was the start of the Cuban
Missile Crisis, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.
Explore 10 surprising facts about the moment when the Cold War turned

1. The U-2 aerial photographs were analyzed inside a secret office above
a used car dealership.
The critical photographs snapped by U-2 reconnaissance planes over Cuba
were shipped for analysis to a top-secret CIA facility in a most unlikely
location: a building above the Steuart Ford car dealership in a rundown
section of Washington, D.C. While used car salesmen were wheeling and
dealing downstairs on October 15, 1962, upstairs CIA analysts in the state-of-
the-art National Photographic Interpretation Center were working around the
clock to scour hundreds of grainy photographs for evidence of a Soviet ballistic
missile site under construction.

2. The Soviets relied on

checkered shirts and tight quarters to sneak thousands of troops into
Beginning in the summer of 1962, the Soviets employed an elaborate ruse,
code-named Operation Anadyr, to ship thousands of combat troops to Cuba.
A few thousand soldiers donned checkered shirts to pose as civilian
agricultural advisers. Many more were issued Arctic equipment to throw off the
scent, sent aboard a fleet of 85 ships and then told to remain below the decks
for the long voyage in order to go undetected. When the CIA estimated on
October 20, 1962, that 6,000 to 8,000 Soviet troops were stationed in Cuba,
the true number was more than 40,000.

3. To keep news of the crisis from leaking, a concocted cold was blamed
for President Kennedys cancellation of public events.
To avoid arousing public concerns in the first days of the crisis, Kennedy
attempted to maintain his official schedule, including a planned seven-state
campaign swing in advance of midterm elections. On October 20, 1962,
however, he abruptly flew back from Chicago to Washington. The presidents
physician fabricated a story that Kennedys voice had been husky the night
before and that he was suffering from a cold and a slight fever. While aides
told the press that Kennedy would spend the rest of the day in bed, he instead
engaged in five hours of meetings with advisers before deciding on instituting
a naval blockade of Cuba. Vice President Lyndon Johnson also blamed a cold
for cutting short a trip to Honolulu to return to Washington.

U-2 reconnaissance photo showing

evidence of missile assembly in Cuba. (CIA)
4. President Kennedys aides drafted a speech announcing a military
invasion of Cuba.
In a dramatic primetime address on October 22, 1962, Kennedy informed the
nation of the naval blockade around Cuba. An alternative speech with a much
different message had been drafted days before, however, in the event the
president opted for a military strike. This morning, I reluctantly ordered the
armed forces to attack and destroy the nuclear buildup in Cuba, began the
address that JFK never delivered.

5. A Soviet spy was a valuable mole.

Colonel Oleg Penkovsky, a Soviet military intelligence officer, passed along
vital espionage about Soviet missile systemsincluding technical manuals
to the CIA and British intelligence officials. That knowledge proved extremely
valuable for the CIA agents analyzing the aerial photographs taken over Cuba.
On October 22, 1962, KGB officials arrested Penkovsky in Moscow, and it is
believed he was convicted of espionage and executed in 1963.

President Kennedy addresses the nation

about the Cuban Missile Crisis on October 22, 1962. (John F. Kennedy
Presidential Library and Museum)
6. There were American combat fatalities.
On October 27, 1962, a Soviet-supplied surface-to-air missile downed an
American U-2 plane, killing its pilot, Major Rudolf Anderson Jr. President
Kennedy posthumously awarded him the Distinguished Service Medal. Four
days before Andersons death, a C-135 Air Force transport bringing supplies
to Guantanamo Naval Air Station on Cuba crashed on landing, killing its crew
of seven.

7. Both sides compromised.

U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk said of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Were
eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked. That assessment is
too one-sided. While on October 28, 1962, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
ordered the removal of Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba, it wasnt a unilateral
move. The Americans also secretly pledged to withdraw intermediate nuclear
missiles from Turkey and not to invade Cuba.

8. Secret back-door diplomacy, rather than brinkmanship, defused the

Once Kennedy announced the blockade, the Americans and Soviets were in
regular communication. The October 28 agreement was hammered out the
night before in a secret meeting between Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy
and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. The Attorney Generals outreach
and offer to remove missiles from Turkey was so clandestine that only a
handful of presidential advisers were aware of it at the time.
Members of the Executive Committee of
the National Security Council leave the White House on October 29, 1962.
(John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)
9. The Cuban Missile Crisis lasted more than just 13 days.
Yes, it was 13 days from when Bundy showed Kennedy the incriminating U-2
photographs to Radio Moscows announcement of Khrushchevs decision to
remove the missiles, and the number has been drilled into history with Robert
Kennedys posthumous memoir Thirteen Days and the 2000 motion picture
of the same name. But even though the world breathed a sigh of relief after
the news of that 13th day, the tense situation did not suddenly abate. The U.S.
military remained on its highest state of alert for three more weeks as it
monitored the removal of the missiles.

10. Although the Kennedy administration thought all the Soviet nukes
were gone, they werent.
President Kennedy, satisfied with Soviet assurances that all nuclear weapons
had been removed, lifted the Cuban blockade on November 20, 1962.
Recently unearthed Soviet documents have revealed, however, that while
Khrushchev dismantled the medium- and intermediate-range missiles known
to the Kennedy administration, he left approximately 100 tactical nuclear
weaponsof which the Americans were unaware for decadesfor possible
use in repelling invading forces. Khrushchev had intended to train the Cubans
and transfer the missiles to them, as long as they kept their presence a secret.
Soviet concerns about whether Castro could be trusted with the weapons
mounted, however, and they finally removed the last of the nuclear warheads
from Cuba on December 1, 1962.

What can we learn from the Cuban missile crisis 50 years after the fact? From the
realities of containment to the need for a strong Navy to the role of
multilateralism in a crisis, these nine insights get at the heart of what America
can learn today from its closest brush with nuclear war.

For the 50th anniversary of what historians agree was the most dangerous
moments in human history, Harvard Kennedy Schools Belfer Center for
Science and International Affairs and Foreign Policy magazine sponsored a
contest for scholars and citizens to reflect on the lessons of the Cuban missile
crisis of 1962 and its lessons for challenges the U.S. faces today. Today, were
happy to announce our three winners: Zachary Elias, Reid Pauly, and Eden Rose
Niles. Their challenge was to present the most persuasive, original lesson flowing
from the confrontation that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war over 13
days in October 1962. Below, weve collected the top three finalists in three
categories the general public, scholars, and students and presented their
insight into the crisis.

Category #1: General Public

Winner: Zachary Elias, Dartmouth College, undergraduate, Hanover, NH

Lesson: The Cuban missile crisis taught the United States what
containment feels like.
The lesson from the crisis is the extent to which containment is terrifying for the
country being contained. Because the U.S. had been a global military superpower
since the end of World War II, it had never faced an existential threat close to its
borders. At the time, U.S. nuclear missiles were stationed in range of Soviet cities
as a means of containment but, for U.S. policymakers, it was unthinkable that
the U.S. could end up in a similar position. So, when the USSR decided to raise
the stakes by placing its own nuclear missiles in range of American cities, U.S.
policymakers were inclined to compromise with the Russians on containment
policy trading nuclear warheads in Turkey for those in Cuba to lessen the
direct military threat posed to each nation by one another.

This is a lesson to keep in mind when deliberating the best means of dealing with
rising powers. When making policy concerning the rise of China, for example,
one would do well to remember that military containment and antagonism makes
the contained country feel threatened, which in turn makes aggression more
likely in response to U.S. provocations. It took trust, diplomacy, and compromise
to resolve a crisis that was precipitated by military buildup, as dictated by
standard realist power calculus. While it is unlikely that China will be able to
challenge U.S. power as the USSR did during the Cold War, one should remain
cognizant of the fact that surrounding another state with military threats is less
likely to spur long-term trust and cooperation which, in an era of cooperative
globalization, is more important than ever.

Robert Walsh, global financial crime officer, AXA Group, New York, NY

Lesson: In a democracy, the need for broad public support to

engage in a dangerous confrontation can have lasting
unintended foreign policy consequences. One example is
foreign policy tunnel vision that can last for generations
because of "accepted truths" trumpeted to justify the

Since 1962 U.S. foreign policy stewards have been hamstrung on Cuba, because
so much patriotic capital was invested in villainizing Soviet Cuba and Fidel
Castro. The martyrdom of JFK compounded this by making it unholy to question
his taking us to the brink. It remains near-treasonous to suggest negotiations
with Fidel Castro. Two comparisons help make this argument: Vietnam and
Japan. While the Vietnam War traded on American patriotism in a similar way to
the Missile Crisis, the success of that rallying cry was mixed, and petered out
feebly at the end. Yet that enabled, in only 40 years, the U.S. to make friends with
the same regime in Vietnam as was in power at the end of that war. Contrast that
with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The U.S. patriotism necessarily invoked at that
time, and since, has rendered it verboten in polite company to ask if perhaps the
U.S. should not have dropped those bombs. It is not politically astute to disagree
with the notion that the use of such bombs "is justified in the right
circumstances." Today the U.S. enjoys tremendous solidarity with the EU, the
U.N. and other countries on international embargo programs regarding Iran,
Syria, North Korea, and Sudan but the U.S. stands alone on Cuba. Not even our
closest allies agree with the U.S. sanctions on Cuba. In 1962, in priming its
population for a dangerous confrontation, the U.S. painted itself into a corner
with respect to future dealings with Cuba and Fidel Castro.

Jacob Schroeder, advertising copyeditor, Chicago, IL

Lesson: As a conflict develops, minor actors play the biggest

roles. A man who made one of the most remarkable decisions during the Cuban
missile crisis did not have the famed name of John Kennedy or Nikita Khruschev,
but rather the unremarkable name of Vasili Arkhipov. As deputy commander of a
Soviet submarine in need of oxygen and perilously encircled by the U.S. Navy, he
urged his superior to take the vessel to the surface for air instead of engaging
American warships with its armed nuclear torpedo in an attempt to flee. What if
Arkhipov had chose to say nothing? That alternative outcome is easy, yet horrific,
to imagine. It is true, a single man smoking a cigarette can burn an entire
parched forest and likewise, during crisis, one minor actor can effect major
sequences. While world leaders command in crises, they do not sail the ships or
pull the triggers. Thus, it is imperative that statesmen be aware of minor actors in
the background or better yet, in military terms, the minor actors on the ground
be it generals or privates, diplomats or secretaries, or in todays interconnected
world galvanized by social media, a single citizen and the roles that they play.
Inevitably, they are bigger than one would surmise. Unfortunately, however, the
name of an actor like Arkhipov will always live in obscurity under the shadow of
actors named Kennedy or Khruschev.

Category #2: Scholars/Practitioners

Winner: Reid Pauly, research assistant to Scott Sagan at Center for
International Security and Cooperation at Stanford, Stanford, CA

Lesson: Multilateralism is key. One rarely hears scholars or policymakers

cite the CMC as a success of multilateralism, but we would be wise to reflect on its
importance during October 1962. While hindsight can tell us that a naval
blockade of Cuba was a good decision, recall that blockades constitute acts of war.
The ExComm thus made two important decisions on October 22, 1962 regarding
the blockade: (1) they softened the label to "quarantine" (also the term "blockade"
brought back memories of 1948 Berlin); (2) they sought legal justification of the
quarantine through the Organization of American States. Of course, the U.S.
could have imposed a blockade without approval, but instead it aligned its
decision with international norms by invoking the OAS charters right to take
collective action in the face of an "armed attack oran act of aggression that is
not an armed attack" in the hemisphere. These nuanced decisions made it
difficult for Khrushchev to justifiably interpret American actions as escalatory
acts of war. Furthermore, Adlai Stevensons presentation of photographic
evidence to the U.N. Security Council legitimized American military mobilization
by framing the crisis as an act of Soviet aggression in front of, as Stevenson said,
"the court of world opinion." The U.S. then made good use of U.N. channels to
facilitate clear communication of messages to the Soviets, like specifications for
the size of the quarantine zone. These decisions, while minimized in the retelling
of such a dramatic tale, were crucial to the successful receding of tensions.
Multilateralism provides added benefits, such as creating a marketplace of policy
ideas, testing the morality of alternatives, and the legitimating of threats and the
use of force. While there are many important lessons to learn from the dark days
of October 1962, one we often ignore is that multilateralism is key.

Lieutenant Douglas Gates, Instructor, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD

Lesson: A flexible and varied military force, including a strong

navy, gives policymakers a wide range of response options.

A few years before the Cuban missile crisis, the military underwent a significant
debate to determine its post-war future. Would the advent of new technologies,
specifically strategic bombers and nuclear weapons, make other weapons
obsolete, or would there continue to be a role for the infantry and warships?
The Cuban missile crisis demonstrated that continuing to equip the nations
military with a vast array of capabilities and warfare specialties was still valuable
because it gave the president several options with which to respond to the
situation. While the Air Force immediately demanded offensive air strikes and
the Army suggested a ground invasion, the Navy provided a scaled response that
sent an effective signal without the use of violence. A naval option kept
Americans off of Cuban soil and out of immediate danger, and yet showed
enough American resolve to convince the Soviets that the battle wasnt worth
fighting. Because the American response was offshore and out of sight of the
Cubans, it deescalated tensions while simultaneously applying pressure on Soviet

Dr. Christopher Bright, staffer on Armed Services Committee, House of

Representatives, Oakton, VA

Lesson: Crisis management may require upending long-

established military doctrine, plans, and policies.

By the time of the Cuban missile crisis, thousands of nuclear antiaircraft weapons
were deployed around dozens of cities and defense sites in the United States.
These surface-to-air missiles and air-to-air arms existed because the large and
lethal aerial blast they produced offered the greatest chance of destroying
nuclear-laden attacking Soviet bombers. The military had the authority to use
these weapons without presidential consultation if commanders believed an
attack was underway. For five years, the widespread and ready expenditure of
defensive nuclear arms to counter a nuclear air raid had been the basis upon
which air defense units had been trained, equipped, and operated.

The crisis spurred military leaders to make changes. The discovery of IL-28
bombers (erroneously believed to be conventionally armed) in Cuba induced
quick preparations to guard against a non-nuclear strike on the southeastern U.S.
Existing arrangements, with the possibility of defensive nuclear expenditure,
dangerously raised the risk of escalation. This was so, especially if nuclear use
resulted from a lower-level decision, and even if it occurred over the United

Therefore, despite objections from the North American Air Defense Command,
air defense forces protecting Florida were prohibited from using nuclear arms.
Unlike units at permanent emplacements in other states, the Army antiaircraft
battery hurriedly established near Miami was equipped only with conventional
missiles. Similarly, Air Force fighters flown to Florida did not carry nuclear
weapons like those fitted to the balance of the interceptor force. These actions
required overcoming many challenges, including instituting new directives and
obtaining sufficient munitions.

The new arrangements contravened long-standing procedures. However, leaders

thought they were necessary. Rather than being rigidly devoted to existing plans,
officials acutely perceived their limitations and deftly ensured that alternatives
were properly developed and implemented.

Category #3: Grades 6-12

Winner: Eden Rose Niles, Colorado Academy High School, Denver, CO

Lesson: During a crisis, when military action is viable as a first

response, the morality of using weapons to reach a resolution
must be considered in order to prevent a catalyst for greater
conflict and subsequent death.

RFK initially believed an air strike was the only option. However, after
considering the morality of a strike, RFK recognized that it could turn crisis into
global conflict. Consequently, his decision to oppose the strike allowed for a
patient approach and consideration of the broader moral issue. This provided
time for Kennedys administration to weigh non-lethal options, eventually
culminating in the quarantine, and more importantly allowing for international
diplomacy to be the source of resolution. My lesson draws from how missiles and
other modern weapons do not require tedious preparations but rather can be
deployed at the push of a button. Accordingly, leaders must consider morality
carefully before choosing military action as a first response. This ensures that
empathy for fellow humans remains in our actions. Due to the empathy cultivated
through the moral question, Kennedy knew violent actions would receive violent
reactions. Deciding to refrain from weapons and working with the Soviets
diplomatically resolved tensions without losing lives.

In todays crises, weapons evolve to allow even less connection between those
who employ violence and those who receive its consequence. Maintaining the
question of morality is increasingly important to ensure that military action does
not abandon the human element and thus inspire new enemies. This is especially
true when there is seemingly less time to consider non-lethal options before
media and politics drown out sober and patient approaches to resolution.

Marija Trajanoska, NOVA International School, Skopje, Macedonia

Lesson: Avoidance of nuclear confrontation has no alternatives

and therefore alternatives to nuclear confrontation should be
sought; forethought leaders know that some decisions may as
well be final.

My lesson from the crisis is reduced to a universal truth that the world just
cannot afford to resort to nuclear confrontation. All other lessons are secondary:
no subsequent lesson holds any worth if reckless decisions lead to self-

Fifty years since the Cuban missile crisis, however, this universal truth is still not
universal enough as the world continues to be terrified from the power of
weapons for mass destruction. In 1962, key players took their time to think about
the alternatives, see through what was not obvious, and respond with foresight
and leadership. Back then, people seemed to have gone back to their senses.

Today, 50 years of high technology and innovation in between, statesmen can still
choose to appeal to their own reason to decide what decisions they make. Today,
more than ever, leaders should be reminded that some decisions can only be
made once and for all. Evidently, some human species-generated decisions may
as well turn out to be truly and finitely final.

So, statesmen should remember to seek creative solutions to the peace and war
challenges of today, while honoring the lessons from the Cuban missile crisis and
keeping consequences in perspective. A sense of urgency is due, of course, before
we all face one nuclear crisis too many.

Oliver Xie, Newton South High School, Newton, MA

Lesson: Have a nuke to grind? Think again

My lesson from The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 is that valuing pride and zero-
sum mentality will only result in apocalyptical events. The engine that choo-
chooed the Cold War to the Missile Crisis was pride. As Russia and the United
States fought their zero-sum game of proxy wars that would later devastate
Pakistan and create Al Qaeda, they were blinded by nationalism and pride. Had
Russia and America come to cooperate earlier, hegemony and psychological, soft
power would no longer be the current day criterion for success.

As such, American statesmen of today should learn that cooperation is the only
path to a brighter tomorrow. Todays Congress shows what happens when the
quest for pride supersedes cooperation. The recent political deadlock is caused by
statesmen who reject or pass bills before even reading them because they simply
have no intention in letting the opposing party gain power. This zero-sum
mentality cannot sustain itself over long periods of time without bipartisanship.

The scope of such a lesson should be further extended into foreign policy.
Whether it be the conflicts with our frenemy, China, or the Middle East,
statesmen must always recognize that countries can mutually benefit from
diplomacy. During the Cuban missile crisis, the effective negotiations between
RFK and Dobrynin were possible because they valued common ground, allowing
them to set aside win-loss mentality and nationalistic pride for a desperate yet
effective solution.

The Cuban missile crisis was not an issue of good versus evil. It stands now as a
test of how far Humans would go before abandoning zero-sum mentality and
pride. However, it shouldnt take risking millions of lives before coming to an
agreement. Find the common ground right from the beginning.

In Harvard Professor Graham Allisons view, the significant unknowns during the Cuban
Missile Crisis nearly catapulted John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev into nuclear war.

Such unknowns, Allison said, remain as grave a risk for todays world leaders as they were in
October 1962 especially in the evolving nuclear showdown between Iran and Western powers.

For former diplomat Nicholas Burns, the principal take-away from the Missile Crisis was the
importance of giving an adversary a way out of a confrontation short of complete surrender.
Burns said that lesson is equally relevant today for those trying to find a solution to the Iran

Allison and Burns were panelists on Oct. 14 at a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential
Library and Museum in Boston to consider the modern lessons of the missile crisis. The event
kicked off an intensive series of seminars and workshops for scholars from Harvard Kennedy
Schools Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs to mark the 50th anniversary of the
missile crisis.

The moderator for the panel was Juliette Kayyem, Kennedy School lecturer in public policy, who
reminded the audience that the missile crisis is often framed through the myth of the tough
American president staring down the Russian foe and making him blink. Kayyem said that
version fails to capture the nuanced secret diplomacy and the American concessions that made a
deal possible.

Allison, director of the Kennedy Schools Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and
author of Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, said the unknowns of the
crisis were part of what he describes to his students as the fog of life.

For example, President Kennedy was considering an invasion of Cuba but did not know that
the Russians had deployed battlefield nuclear weapons that would have been used against U.S.
ground troops, almost certainly triggering a wider nuclear war.

Allison said that similarly, the United States knows now about some Iranian nuclear sites where
uranium is being enriched, and could target those in an air strike. But he said it is extremely
implausible that the U.S. knows of every nuclear facility in Iran, and one thing for sure is you
cant destroy any target that you havent identified.

That heightens the need for a negotiated agreement that persuades Iran to stop short of building a
nuclear weapon, Allison said.

Burns, the former under secretary of state for political affairs who now directs the Belfer
Centers Future of Diplomacy Project and the Middle East Initiative, said a core lesson of the
missile crisis was that unless you are trying to vanquish the other person, unless you want a
100-to-nothing victory, then you are going to have to make concessions.

The lesson for those handling the Iran conflict, Burns said, is that unless we are trying to
destroy Iran, you have to leave your adversary some way to negotiate a way out.

Allison said Kennedy drew that lesson clearly in his American University speech in June 1963,
when Kennedy declared: While defending our national interests, we must avert confrontations
that force an enemy to choose between humiliating retreat or war.
Absorbing their own lessons, after the crisis Kennedy and Khrushchev together established the
hotline, agreed to a limited nuclear test ban treaty and to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Allison said the lessons today are germane not only for Iran but also for relations with China.

Kennedy recognized what he called the precarious rules of the status quo, Allison said. Unless
the United States and China can work out their own precarious rules of the status quo, then the
chances for confrontation in East Asia in coming years is significant, he added.