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From Cuba to Prague, or Walking the Talk


Image by RobbertjanR (found on Flickr.com)

Khrushchev and Kennedy

Nearly half a century has passed since the events of October/November 1962, today known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. This crisis, arguably the most dangerous one of the Cold War, was unleashed when US reconnaissance flights revealed that the Soviet Union was deploying ballistic missiles, military equipment and personnel to Cuba. President Kennedy, interested in de-escalating the crisis rather than in provoking a war, opted for a well-employed coercive diplomacy as the answer to the observed developments on Cuba. While avoiding to give the Soviets a clear deadline for withdrawing the missiles, he imposed a naval blockade on the island and at the same time mobilized U.S. military forces to a higher readiness degree. This was a clear signal from Kennedy to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev indicating that the United States’ priority was a de-escalation of the crisis.

Image by Mika V. Stetsovski (found on Flickr.com)

Obama and Medvedev

The Cuban Missile Crisis marked a “negative milestone”, as it probably was one of the moments of highest tensions during the entire Cold War. Today, almost fifty years later, signing the U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Pact can be seen as an important milestone or as a small step: A milestone, because it banishes the ghosts of the Cold War and heralds a new era in U.S.-Russian relations. A small step, because there’s still a long way to go before reaching the goal of “a world without nuclear weapons” as called for by Obama exactly one year ago in Prague—the same place as today’s nevertheless historic event. But the good news is that he is walking the talk. During his Nobel Prize speech, Obama said that he viewed the award as “a call to action” rather than as a recognition of his accomplishments. He has followed that call, and while he received the prize mainly for his discourse, he has now made a further step towards deserving it for his actions.


Image Khrushchev/Kennedy: © RobbertjanR (found on Flickr.com)
Image Obama/Medvedev: © Mika V. Stetsovski (found on Flickr.com)


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