News / USA

Cuban Missile Crisis Lessons for Iran

In this October 25, 1962 file photo, U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, far right, describes aerial photographs of launching sites for intermediate range missiles in Cuba during an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council at U.N. Headquarter
In this October 25, 1962 file photo, U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, far right, describes aerial photographs of launching sites for intermediate range missiles in Cuba during an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council at U.N. Headquarter
Historians agree that in October of 1962, U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev squared off in a showdown that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.
 
Sergei Khrushchev, son of the Soviet leader and a professor at Brown University, says the crisis was ultimately resolved peacefully because both leaders were rational men.
 
“We were very lucky that the two leaders were balanced and reasonable and their policy was not shoot first then think, but first think, then, second time, think and maybe don’t shoot at all,” he said.
 
Shortly after the missile crisis, Kennedy and Khrushchev established a “hotline” between Washington and Moscow providing for direct communications between the White House and the Kremlin. It is in operation to this day. The two men also signed a test ban treaty, ending nuclear testing everywhere but underground.
 
“But then Kennedy was assassinated, then Khrushchev was ousted from power,” said Professor Khrushchev. “I think that if these two leaders would have been in power longer, it is a big possibility that the Cold War would have been over. But history decided in a different way and we returned to the Cold War and all this crazy arms race until the Gorbachev time,” he said.
 
Experts such as Graham Allison of Harvard University say there are lessons to be learned from the crisis, which even President Kennedy admitted.
 
“(Kennedy said) the lesson out of this is that we have to avert crises that lead to confrontations in which an adversary has to choose between humiliating retreat and war,” said Allison, adding that President Barack Obama is facing a similar situation with Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, which Allison calls a “Cuban Missile Crisis in slow motion.”
 
“The president is going to be faced with an option between acquiescing in Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb — that’s one option,” he said. “Or alternatively, attacking Iran to prevent it acquiring a nuclear bomb — so attack or acquiesce.
 
“The implication of that for where we stand with Iran today is, if you look at attacking Iran and the consequences of that, they look pretty ugly,” he said. “And if you look at acquiescing to Iran becoming a nuclear-weapon state and the consequences that will have in the very volatile region of the Middle East — and likely trigger further proliferation in other states like Saudi Arabia — that looks pretty ugly.”
 
Allison said the U.S. administration must search for a third option, as did President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
 
“I would hope that immediately after the election, the U.S. government will also turn intensely to the search for something that’s not very good — because it won’t be very good — but that is significantly better than attacking on the one hand or acquiescing on the other,” he said.
 
For his part, Professor Khrushchev favors dialogue.
 
“We have to negotiate with Iran, not threatening them with different sanctions, but negotiate on the highest level, American president with Iranian president," said the professor. "And I don’t think that President Kennedy loved Khrushchev more than President Obama loves President Ahmadinejad, but they understood — Kennedy and Eisenhower — that you have to talk with them, because if you are talking with your enemy, you can influence them and you can better understand them.”
 
If the Iranian crisis cannot be resolved peacefully and it comes to war, says Professor Khrushchev, the United States would win. But, asks the son of the former Soviet leader, at what price?

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: ibrahim mohamed from: mogadishu
October 16, 2012 12:31 PM
the US of America attacked on Iraq by justifying of having dangerous missiles, and now if they try take war against with Iran, it will encounter great damage if it tries to fight with Iran, because it is known that American economy is on the brink of totally collapse, hence peaceful negotiation is still open rather than war against with Iran.


by: George from: USA
October 15, 2012 10:06 PM
Steve from: Colorado Springs: They won't print my response. But, I would love to see your references. Do you include Israeli media in your search of Middle East sources?


by: George from: USA
October 15, 2012 5:56 PM
Steve from Colorado Springs: So, you think I watch Fox News? It is you who must be watching it. So, why don't you list some of the objective sources that you found that say "Iran is building a bomb, in collusion with North Korea, Pakistan."

By the way, do you include Israeli media in your Middle East source? Even Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya lie too. None of these sources are credible.
You are indeed brainwashed by neo-con and Israeli propaganda. Two NIEs said Iran is not building nukes. Even Panetta has said so and you disagree? Do you have your own intelligence agency?


by: Steve from: Colorado Springs U.S.A.
October 15, 2012 12:35 PM
Hi George
Your overall belligerent tone puts any attempt to communicate with anyone like you impossible. Do you know what the word research means? In under 10 minutes I've found numerous stories from middle eastern newspapers confirming everything I mentioned earlier. I wonder if your name is even George?
Stop watching CNN/FOX, it's rotting your brain!


by: CharleyX from: USA
October 15, 2012 10:00 AM
Gee.. I wonder which way Barack HUSSEIN Obama will go.


by: George from: USA
October 14, 2012 11:37 AM
Typically, VOA mostly prints negative comments about Iran. In particular, what is the justification for the comment by "Steve from: Colorado Springs," which is based purely on speculation, to be printed here. On the other hand, my earlier comment pointing out this fact was apparently not approved. I guess people do not deserve to know what is really going on in the world


by: George from: USA
October 14, 2012 4:03 AM
Steve from: Colorado Springs

You say, "Iran is building a bomb, in collusion with North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and China." Where did you get your information? Did you use your crystal ball or did a little bird come and tell this fairy tale? You are hilarious.

So, how did you do your research? Do you have your own intelligence agency? Please enlighten us about any concrete evidence that you have you about all your ridiculous claims.


by: Steve from: Colorado Springs, U.S.A.
October 13, 2012 7:21 PM
Iran is building a bomb, in collusion with North Korea, Pakistan,
Russia and China there are more than enough resources to help this maniacal theology not only build nuclear weapons but the delivery systems as well. Do a little research and you will know these things to be true. I trust the u.n as much as I trust U.S. politicians for getting any real truth and honesty!


by: George from: USA
October 13, 2012 1:20 PM
Iran does not have nuclear weapons and is not building any. How many times does one have to repeat this fact? Two NIEs have said the same thing and even Panetta has repeated it. So, why do we have this silly repetition of the same nonsense over and over again?

Claiming that Iran will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons is like saying Iran will not be allowed to go to Mars. Iran has no interest in going to Mars or to build useless nuclear weapons. No one can use nukes in today’s world.


by: Douglas from: Ghana
October 13, 2012 9:17 AM
Iran getting a nuclear bomb is obviously the worst idea. The USA will never attack Iran without repercussions or consequences. There will surely be seroius damage to an already weak economy. But i think the price is worth it. I don't like the hate comments made by Iran and allies such as hezbollah, hamas etc about Israel. However, i urge Israel to avoid provoking Iran in any way. It is not necessary. Peace is what the world needs.

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid