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Castro rethinks the missile crisis

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9 September 2010 09:55

The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg has an account of a long interview with Fidel Casto, which includes this:

I mentioned to Castro the letter he wrote to Khruschev, the Soviet premier, at the height of the (Cuban missile) crisis, in which he recommended that the Soviets consider launching a nuclear strike against the U.S. if the Americans attack Cuba. "That would be the time to think about liquidating such a danger forever through a legal right of self-defense," Castro wrote at the time.

I asked him, "At a certain point it seemed logical for you to recommend that the Soviets bomb the U.S. Does what you recommended still seem logical now'" He answered: "After I've seen what I've seen, and knowing what I know now, it wasn't worth it all."

The assessment by then-US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara — that the world 'lucked out' by averting nuclear war during the crisis — seems truer than ever, but also more chilling, since our luck can't hold forever. To quote McNamara: 'The indefinite combination of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will destroy nations.'

The Nuclear Reactions column is supported by the Nuclear Security Project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, as part of a wider partnership between the NSP and the Lowy Institute. 

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