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Point of View: Boning Up On a Crisis

Thu, 12/09/2021 - 14:21

When the Cuban missile crisis had everyone on tenterhooks, I, a collegian then, was pretty much oblivious, which is why I ordered Martin Sherwin’s book on the subject recently, in order, I suppose, to know before I go.

Yes, I would like to know before I go, although, despite having been informed, as it were, for many years now, there is in this fretful age something to be said for not being too informed. It’s amazing that we’re still here, frankly. And, in great measure, we owe our salvation thus far to the good sense of officers on both sides of the Cold War who, in Marvin Kitman’s words, said in effect, “wait a minute, men,” when faced with rumored threat of nuclear attacks, by land and sea. There should be a Hall of Fame for them.

I was interested to read that it was Adlai Stevenson — all alone at first — who advised that President Kennedy negotiate the removal of Russia’s missiles rather than rain destruction down upon Cuba. Of course, the President eventually came around to Stevenson’s view — and a good thing too, for just about all his advisers continued to press for a military response throughout those nail-biting October days.

How many close calls have there been since? Quite a few, I imagine. It would be ironic were we to preserve through international cooperation the planet’s habitability while leaving the door open to nuclear Armageddon.

Though obviously not to the extent required, we have been working together to rid the world of one plague, which gives me hope that we have it within us to rid ourselves of others, so that the world may not end either with a whimper or a bang.

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