Tag Archives: cuban missile crisis

Turkey Shoots Downs Russian Jet: What Happens Next?

Today’s news that Turkish fighters shot down a Russian jet, killing at least one of the pilots, is unlikely to lead to a nuclear crisis … but there is a chance that it could. If Russia had shot down one of the Turkish planes – or were to do so in a future such encounter – we would be bound by Article 5 of the NATO Treaty to treat it the same as an attack on one of our own aircraft. Continue reading

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Avoiding a Repeat of the 1962 Cuban Crisis

I highly recommend Prof. Rajan Menon’s article in The National Interest, Avoiding a New ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ in Ukraine. I’ve attached a few key paragraphs below my signature line, and encourage you to read the full article. This fits well with the risk analysis approach I’ve been recommending for analyzing nuclear deterrence and reducing the danger that it might fail. Continue reading

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Time to Stop Playing Nuclear Roulette

In Russian roulette, there’s one chance in six you’ll be killed – if you pull the trigger only once. If you pull it once a day, or even once a year, it’s not a question of IF you’ll be killed, only WHEN. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Pres. Kennedy said he thought the odds of war were somewhere between 1-in-3 and even. If he was right, that crisis was equivalent to playing nuclear roulette – a global version of Russian roulette – with a 2- or 3-chambered revolver. Fortunately, most events have a much smaller chance of escalating to nuclear war, but even a small probability per event can add up to an unacceptable risk if repeated often enough. Continue reading

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An Important Leap Forward in US National Security

US national security took an important, but little noted leap forward yesterday when President Obama announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba. Most of the media coverage focused on the economic and political consequences of this bold move, and what little I’ve seen on its national security implications quotes opponents as calling it “appeasement.” This is a clear reference to Britain’s vain attempts to mollify Hitler prior to World War II, and therefore an attempt to slam Obama’s move as naive and dangerous. So why do I maintain that his move did the opposite and, instead, dramatically improved our national security? Continue reading

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Avoiding Needless Wars, Part 6: North Korea

Over the last few months, North Korea has severely tested the world’s patience. It conducted its third nuclear test, canceled the armistice ending the Korean War, threatened the US with nuclear ruin, warned foreigners to leave the country because war was imminent, cut its hotline with South Korea, and readied a missile for firing. This shrill, irrational behavior seems to confirm the conventional wisdom that North Korea is a rogue nation, run by a nut job – end of story. In that perspective, there is little we can do other than hope that our military power deters them from following through on their hair-brained threats. While there is truth in that perspective, it pays to examine some other hypotheses which, if true, would give us more effective options for reducing the risk of a needless war. Continue reading

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Avoiding Needless Wars, Part 5: Operation Northwoods

Operation Northwoods is a prime example of why we need to raise critical questions before going to war. Written seven months before the Cuban Missile Crisis, this formerly top secret proposal by the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested ways to build public support for an American invasion of Cuba, including: “A ‘Remember the Maine’ incident could be arranged … We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. … [Or] we could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. … [fostering] attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding.” Continue reading

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Who Done It?

Who wrote JFK’s “airstrike speech?” Kennedy’s usual speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, emphatically denied writing it: Continue reading

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