October marks the 50th anniversary of of the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis, when President John F. Kennedy discovered that the Soviet Union was building secret missile bases in Cuba. Forgoing the option of a Cuban invasion or air strikes, Kennedy asked Russian Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev to remove all weapons from the island, and on Oct. 28, 1962, Khrushchev conceded, halting the standoff. Here, Khrushchev’s son, Sergei Khrushchev, visiting professor of Slavic languages at Brown, reflects on the diplomatic lessons.
The perspective of the crisis has changed over time and today the history of the crisis is more focused not on the confrontation, but on cooperation.
The Cuban Missile Crisis showed that two leaders decided not to shoot first, but to think and negotiate with each other. And today that is very unusual, because we think we can only negotiate with friends. Today, we impose unconditional surrender and nobody surrenders unconditionally until fully defeated. (more…)