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Letter

Nuclear diplomacy is true lesson of Cuban crisis

President John F. Kennedy conferred with his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, at the White House in an Oct. 1, 1962, file photo during the Cuban missile crisis.

File/Associated Press

President John F. Kennedy conferred with his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, at the White House in an Oct. 1, 1962, file photo during the Cuban missile crisis.

It is unfortunate that the article “Cuban crisis is focus of exhibit at JFK Library” (Metro, April 12) perpetuates the myth that the crisis was successfully resolved because President Kennedy stood his ground in a game of nuclear chicken, and, as a result, “Khrushchev blinked and ordered the missiles removed.” In fact, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles in Cuba because Kennedy agreed to remove US missiles in Turkey. In other words, there was a negotiated settlement.

Unfortunately, because Kennedy feared the political consequences of making this trade, the deal was kept secret both by Khrushchev and by Kennedy’s advisers who knew about it. The result was that Americans learned the lesson that so-called toughness pays — even if it risks nuclear war.

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The real lesson was that negotiation pays and that finding ways to deal with our enemies and acknowledge their interests can succeed in avoiding violence and destruction. This lesson was not learned, however, because the truth was not shared with US citizens.

The true account has been known for decades. The Globe article should have made clear that Kennedy and Khrushchev both blinked, and that we should all be grateful for that.

Stephen Nathanson

Brookline

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