Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cuban Missile Crisis from Soviet perspective - Gilder Lehrmann

The Gilder Lehrmann Institute for American History had an exceptional issue in their Historians on the Record podcast. Their guest was Sergei Khruschev, the son of ... , to talk about the Cuban Missile crisis. The lecture was both informing and entertaining.

There are two charming and thought provoking aspects to Khrushchev's lecture. The expected and still fascinating part is the one that is filled with his personal memories. With him we follow his father step by step through the crisis. Nothing could be more exciting than that. The Soviets regarded Cuba as an unreachable, remote backwater and had no real intention to push the US to the brink. You get to understand why the Hot Line was established afterwards.

How is that the US was pushed to the brink? It is psychology and Khrushchev makes mild fun of the Americans, but also challenges with an idea: the cold water was an event in which the adversaries carefully eyed the other, but were thus looking into a mirror. They project onto the enemy their own sate of mind, their own logic. And so, the Soviets could not anticipate how even the tiniest threat from Cuba could push the Americans into a frenzy. they had been living with menace on each border and overlooked the fundamental difference with the US, which has always had remote enemies. Similarly, he argues, the Americans overreacted to 9/11. Very nice line of thinking.

More Gilder Lehrmann:
African American generations (Ira Berlin),
Theodore Roosevelt (Patrica O'Toole),
Slave Culture (Philip Morgan).
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