The Leadership Test of the Cuban Missile Crisis

My Monday column applies the Cuban Missile Crisis test to the current presidential candidates.

Fifty years ago yesterday, an American U-2 reconnaissance flight snapped a series of damning photographs of offensive Soviet nuclear missile sights being installed on the island of Cuba, some 90 miles from the Florida panhandle. The series of events that followed could very well have precipitated a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States, with a subsequent death toll of around 100 million people on each side. In a word: Armageddon. In the context of modern population figures, that's one out of every three Americans alive today, say nothing of the Soviet death toll.

At any point during those 13 days in October 1962, events could have careened wildly out of control. If just one round of ammunition had been fired in anger, and if news of this aggression had leaked out, it could have rapidly escalated into the unthinkable. If the Kennedy administration had been bullied into an invasion by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Soviets would've surely invaded West Berlin in retaliation, then NATO would've been forced to retaliate against the Soviet invasion and it's highly unlikely that nuclear weapons would've been spared, and World War III would've been engaged.

In fact, we only learned in the last ten years how dangerously close we came to such a scenario... [continued]

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