Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The Cuban Missile Crisis: Parallels in History

Stratfor: Cuban crisis parallels < RoughJustice > 10/22 11:38:04

20 October 2003

The Cuban Missile Crisis: Parallels in History


Three things led to the Cuban missile crisis:

1. Consistently poor U.S. intelligence.

2. A prior administration that failed to react to the threat in a timely fashion and in essence passed on the Cuban problem to its successor.

3. A new administration whose president struck his adversaries -- and allies -- as a deer frozen in the headlights.

It is interesting to see these parallels:

1. Both Kennedy and current U.S. President George W. Bush were widely perceived as inexperienced in foreign affairs. Their foes perceived them both as bunglers.

2. Both focused intensely on anything that physically threatened the United States.

3. The rest of the world regarded both presidents as overreacting and as cowboys, risking world security on minor provocation.

4. Both were casual with the truth when it suited the national -- or their political -- interests.

... It is useful to look back on moments like the Cuban missile crisis, which we tend to see through the prism of time as a particular moment of U.S. courage and decisiveness. Like the current circumstance, it was a moment born of failure, ineptitude and dishonesty, and it ultimately gave rise to the things it was intended to prevent. The president that presided over the crisis is revered today. There are few who were alive in September 1962 who would have thought that Kennedy would be remembered for his strategic acumen. And there are many historians who still wonder what the shouting was about.

Bush's critics should take note of this. And Bush should remember that the kind of victory he gains -- if he gains one at all -- is as important as the victory itself.

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