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Me and Sergei Khrushchev

July 24, 2009

Here’s an old picture but a good one–me having a chat with Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita, Kennedy’s Russian counterpart during the Cuban Missle Crisis. When asked how close we actually were to nuclear war back then, Khrushchev shrugged and said, “twenty, thirty minutes.” Today, a lot of negotiating can occur in twenty minutes. But back then, the White House and the Kremlin were communicating via telegraph–Western Union, to be specific. It took a message six hours to go through London on it’s way across the Atlantic. So when Khrushchev says we were a half hour away from nuclear war, you realize just how close that was, and how clever the two leaders were at sending and deciphering intent using the positioning of their ships around Cuba.

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