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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
NOVEMBER 2012
17
Recalling a Fateful
13 Days
T
his October, the world observed
the 50th anniversary of the Cuban
Missile Crisis, an episode that has been
the subject of many books (both nonfc-
tion and fction), TV documentaries and
flms. Yet as David Ignatius comments in
th
e Oct. 12
Washington Post
:
“So many of the key questions about
the crisis remain unanswered—and
perhaps, unanswerable: Why did Soviet
Premier Nikita Khrushchev secretly
install nuclear missiles in Cuba? Why
did President John F. Kennedy and his
brother Bobby resist the nearly univer-
sal advice of hawkish advisers to strike
Cuba, despite their own decades of mili-
tant anti-Soviet rhetoric? What would
have happened if detailed news of the
crisis had leaked, or if the Soviets had
publicized JFK’s secret pledge to remove
missiles from Turkey in exchange for
Khrushchev’s public climb-down?”
To mark the occasion, several think-
tanks and other organizations are spon-
soring symposiums to seek the elusive
answers to such questions. Ignatius
devotes much of his column to one such
gathering, held at the
Harvard Kennedy
School’s Belfer Center.
Hosted by Graham Allison, whose
book
Essence of Decision
(published in
1971, then reissued with new material
in 1999) makes him the dean of scholars
of the crisis, that forum has unearthed
some disquieting nuggets of infor-
mation: Some Soviet ships may have
turned around two days earlier than U.S.
intelligence realized; and as JFK’s inner
circle of advisers (known as “ExComm”)
planned an invasion, they didn’t realize
the Soviets had already deployed tactical
nuclear weapons there.
As Ignatius comments, “It’s truly
frightening how much wasn’t under-
stood at the time.”
Te Belfer Center has also
created
a Web site t
o mark the
50th anniversary of the crisis,
ofering background informa-
tion, resources for students
and teachers, and much more. With
For-
eign Policy
magazine, the center also co-
sponsored a contest for the best original
300-word submission on lessons that
leaders can learn from the crisis.
Te Center for International Policy
held an Oct. 25 conference that exam-
ined “Te Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962:
Its Aftermath and Its Implications Ten
and Now.” Retired Foreign Service of-
cers Wayne Smith and Harry C. Blaney,
both senior fellows at CIP, were among
the featured participants.
For its part, on Oct. 15 the Woodrow
Wilson Center held a “National Conver-
sation,” m
oderated by National Public
Radio correspondent Tom Gjelten, to
explore the question, “Is the World More
Dangerous 50 Years after the Cuban Mis-
sile Crisis?” Speakers included Wilson
Center Director Jane Harman; Gra-
ham Allison; Timothy Naftali, a senior
research fellow at the New America
Foundation; and former Washington
Post reporter Michael Dobbs. Te live
webcast is available both on the NPR
and Wilson Center sites.
Dobbs, incidentally, has a fascinat-
in
g blog o
n the
Foreign Policy
magazine
Web site called “On the Brink: Te
Cuban Missile Crisis +50.”
All Hail Mighty Grenada!
T
he United States, China, the United
Kingdom and Russia led the rest of
the world in total number of medals won
at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
But as Aaron Bycofe, Jay Boice and
Andrei Scheinkman point out on the
Hufngton Post
,
ranking nations by total
medals earned isn’t necessarily the best
way to judge relative success. After all,
some countries have a lot more people,
or a lot more money, than others. For
instance, America sent 530 athletes to
the London Games, whereas Somalia
had just two people representing it.
With that in mind, the three analysts
have put together interactive maps
that sift the medal counts according to
each country’s population, and gross
domestic product, respectively. (Tey
weight the results so that a gold medal
is worth three points; a silver, two; and a
bronze, one.)
Looked at in terms of population
base and economic clout, the four
biggest winners all hail from the
Caribbean: Grenada (which brought
home a gold medal with a population of
just 109,011 and a GDP of $1.89 billion),
the Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad &
Tobago.
T
e
Guardian
sports section e
mploys
a similar methodology (explained
in painstaking detail), but goes an
additional step by ranking competitors
in terms of team size. Te newspaper
identifes the top four nations in that
category as China, Jamaica, Iran and
Botswana.
—Tis month’s edition of Talking
Points was compiled by Editor Steven
Alan Honley.
n