18:00 GMT +322 November 2019
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    The Cuban Missile Crisis 55 Years On

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    On this episode, John is joined by US writer and political analyst John Steppling to explore the history of this seminal moment in world history and the lessons to be drawn from it today.

    The relevance of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 could not be more obvious, what with the heightening of tensions between North Korea and the US and its allies in the region, along with Trump's demonization of Iran, threatening to withdraw the United States from the P5+1 deal regarding Tehran's own nuclear programme.

    What should not be overlooked is the fervid atmosphere of the 1960s, whipped up on the back of the anti-communist hysteria which had the US in its grip. It was a time when those two world-historical ideologies of communism and capitalism were engaged in a fierce struggle over the right to shape the future.

    It is why the individual roles of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and his US counterpart, John F Kennedy, were indispensable when it came to averting nuclear Armageddon. Both leaders were surrounded by hardliners, itching for conflict, especially JFK in the shape of notorious US Air Force General Curtis Le May.

    After the crisis, recognizing how close they had come to nuclear war, Khrushchev and Kennedy made a determined push for detente, which in Kennedy's case only intensified the disdain, even hatred, in which he was held by leading elements within his military and intelligence community.

    Worryingly, when it comes to the Cuban Missile Crisis, we are in danger of the past becoming prologue.

    Hard Facts is out every Wednesday. You can join in the conversation here.

    Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, USSR, Cuba, United States, Soviet Union
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