Lessons From the Cuban Missile Crisis

Lessons From the Cuban Missile Crisis


  • Russia’s short ‘special military operation’ to ‘de-Nazify and de-militarise’ Ukraine is already a nine-month-war, and likely to extend into 2023; trans-Atlantic North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) unity under U.S. leadership despite visible internal differences has not collapsed; Mr. Zelensky’s emergence as a wartime leader is surprising; and, poor Russian military planning and performance, a shock.
  • For the present, Russia is too strong to lose and Ukraine, despite NATO support, too weak to win; so, the war grinds on with no ceasefire in sight.

Takeaways from the Cuban Missile Crisis

  • It is the time for the world to learn lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962), which brought the world perilously close to nuclear war as the US and USSR faced off against each other.
  • President John F. Kennedy of the United States received word on October 16, 1962, that the USSR was getting ready to station medium- and intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Cuba.
  • Following discussion with his core group of advisors, he decided against an invasion of Moscow or a nuclear attack, and announced a naval “quarantine” of Cuba.
  • The most important lesson was that, even as their rivalry played out in other areas, the two nuclear giants should avoid any direct conflict to keep it below the nuclear threshold. It was known as “the stability-instability dilemma” by deterrence theorists. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were forced to confine the instability to proxy battles because of their assured-second-strike capacity, which guaranteed mutually assured devastation. For decades, nuclear war games were unable to address the problem of containing a nuclear conflict once a nuclear bomb was used in combat.
The recent escalation:
  • The Ukraine conflict is putting the nuclear deterrence doctrine to the test.
  • Instead of a nuclear-free Ukraine, Russia finds itself at war with a nuclear-armed NATO.
  • As a result, Mr. Putin has displayed his nuclear intentions repeatedly, doing everything from attending personally in mid-February large-scale drills involving “strategic troops” to putting nuclear forces on “special combat alert.”


Source The Hindu