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Graham Allison unduly credits Kennedy’s use of threats in resolving the Cuban missile crisis, argues James Nathan. Allison disagrees, pointing to the case of Iran, where only the prospect of an attack can convince the country to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose talks with the Harvard professor about the lessons that can be learned 50 years later.
Fifty years ago, the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. Every president since John F. Kennedy has tried to learn from what happened back then. Today, it can help U.S. policymakers understand what to do -- and what not to do -- about Iran, North Korea, China, and presidential decision-making in general.
The current global nuclear order is extremely fragile, threatened by North Korea’s expanding nuclear weapons program, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Pakistan’s increasing instability.
Renewed anxiety over a nuclear attack has prompted three new books on the threat and how to confront it. On one key point they all agree: the need to ensure that "peaceful" nuclear programs do not serve as a guise for less-than-peaceful intentions.
President Bush has called nuclear terror the defining threat the United States now faces. He's right, but he has yet to follow up his words with actions. This is especially frustrating since nuclear terror is preventable. Washington needs a strategy based on the "Three No's": no loose nukes, no nascent nukes, and no new nuclear states.
NOT since World War II have Americans been so uncertain about the proper role of the United States in the world. The broad bipartisan consensus that characterized American foreign policy for two decades after the war has been overcome by widespread, bipartisan confusion about the nature of the world, the character of the challenges that policymakers confront, and the proper employment of non-nuclear forces. Viet Nam is not the only cause of this confusion. Changes In American perceptions were evident earlier: as the fear of monolithic communism waned, hope grew that the United States and the Soviet Union could coexist peacefully; and the public showed diminishing interest in providing aid to less developed countries. But the expenditure of blood and treasure in Viet Nam has deepened fundamental doubts throughout our society-from the highest levels of government to college campuses and midwestern farms-as to whether the United States should in any circumstances become involved again in a limited war. A Time- Louis Harris Poll in May indicated that only a minority of Americans are willing to see United States troops used to resist overt communist aggression against our allies: in Berlin, 26 percent; in Thailand, 25 percent; and in Japan, 27 percent.