The Cuban Missile Crisis: Looking Back 60 Years

Trinity Washington University

Dr. Allen Pietrobon is an Assistant Professor and Program Chair of the Global Affairs department at Trinity Washington University. An award-winning historian and public speaker, Allen specializes in 20th-Century American history and U.S. Foreign Policy, focusing on nuclear weapons policies and Cold War diplomacy. Since 2011, he has also served as an Assistant Director of Research at the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University. His latest book, Norman Cousins: Peacemaker in the Atomic Age, explores the widespread influence that prominent journalist Norman Cousins had on postwar international humanitarian aid, anti-nuclear advocacy, and Cold War diplomacy, including secret diplomatic missions he conducted behind the Iron Curtain.



In 1962, the Soviet Union tried to sneak nuclear missiles into Cuba, but the U.S. caught them. After a 13-day standoff, the U.S. “won” the missile crisis when it forced the Soviets to back down. But is that what really happened: steadfast Americans bravely pushing back against a dangerous and reckless Soviet Union…and saving the world from nuclear destruction? Or is that just the myth we told ourselves in the years since? In reality, both sides came perilously close to total destruction and prevailed mostly through luck and fear.

Join Global Affairs professor Allen Pietrobon as we reflect on the Cuban Missile Crisis during its 60th anniversary year. We’ll look at the gripping lives and actions of John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro, and Nikita Khrushchev. How did they lead us into this moment of extreme danger? Whose “fault” was it, really? And did the U.S. “win” after all? We’ll also examine some of the “near misses,” including a Soviet nuclear submarine that came close to firing its weapons at the peak of the crisis and an American spy plane that was shot down over the island. Ultimately, we’ll question what the Cuban Missile Crisis can teach us about the potential for future nuclear conflicts and how a country relying on nuclear weapons to threaten and project power imperils us all.




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Gregory Tanner


5 months ago
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