Drawing a lesson Close

The Americans had to promise Khrushchev that they would leave Cuba alone and would not try to overthrow Castro; they also removed their Jupiter missiles from Turkey. China reaped the benefits and rivalled the Soviet Union in the eyes of Socialist and Third World countries.

From a didactic point of view, the crisis taught US and Soviet leaders how to cope with situations of extreme tension that could end in thermonuclear war, and vindicated the deterrent strategy in so far as the spectre of nuclear war was instrumental in their finding a peaceful compromise.

It also pointed out the discrepancy between the risks taken and what was actually at stake: Cuba was a vital issue and an incentive for JFK to take a firm line, whereas it was only a side one for Khrushchev who could, thus, afford to show some restraint.

The Cuban episode was a model of crisis management: the point was how to have the other side back down without losing face. It also vindicated the flexible response strategy Robert McNamara had advocated when addressing the Atlantic Council in May 1962.


Drawing a lesson Close