From Prof John Ure, October 21, 2012 11:38 pm
This response first appeared on the Financial Times, Singapore on 21 Oct 2012
Sir, Philip Zelikow’s version of the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis (“Learn the lesson of Cuba and seize the initiative” FT 19th October 2012) is surprisingly out-of-date for a history dean. Recent releases show quite clearly that this was a behind-the-scenes negotiated settlement whereby the US would withdraw its own nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey aimed at the Soviet Union in exchange for the Soviet’s not installing their missiles in Cuba. It was a good trade no doubt, but rather more than US President Kennedy manfully staring down Premier Nikita Khrushchev as we were all asked to believe at the time.
In light of this evidence, to conclude as Zelikow does that the “crisis was driven by the side that had the strategic initiative” rather begs the question of which side this was. The Soviets ended up with no less than they started, the US ended up withdrawing their missiles. The lesson would seem to be that negotiations rather than sabre-rattling produce better outcomes, a point to be considered by the US voters.
John Ure, Associate Professor and Director, Telecommunications Research Project, University of Hong Kong