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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Nate from: US
October 12, 2012 9:48 PM
1) There is no evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon according to US intelligence and the IAEA.
2) Russia and China will not allow another Libya or Iraq to happen to Iran.
3) It seems Israel and the west are more concerned that Iran is becoming a dominant force in the region. Over 100 countries support Iran (NAM).
The Shanghai summit did not include the US, and China is now Saudi Arabia biggest client. Soon China may unhinge the US dollar as the major currency, and Russia, Iran, Venezuela, India, Pakistan and others will support them.
     

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs