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The Cuban Missile Crisis: Re-examining a Moment of Extreme Danger

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Monday, May 8, 2023 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0261
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A U.S. Navy P-2H Neptune flying over a Soviet cargo ship with crated Il-28s on deck during the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis is an event most Americans have heard of and could probably even recount in broad contours: In 1962, the Soviet Union tried to sneak nuclear missiles into Cuba, but the United States discovered them, and after a 13-day crisis and standoff, the U.S. won the missile crisis when it forced the Soviets to back down. The episode has since become a case study in crisis decision-making in international relations courses.

But is that what really happened, or is that just the myth Americans have told themselves in the years since?

Join Allen Pietrobon, a global affairs professor at Trinity Washington University, as he reflects on the Cuban Missile Crisis. He looks at the lives and actions of John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, and Nikita Khrushchev to consider how they led their countries into such a moment of extreme danger, whose fault it really was, and whether the United States truly won.

Pietrobon argues that, far from being a case study in good crisis management, the crisis consisted of two sides that came perilously close to destruction and pulled through mostly due to both luck and fear. He examines some of the close calls that occurred and assesses what lessons the crisis can teach about the potential for future nuclear armed conflicts.

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