Apparently I’m not alone in doubting that this ship is unsinkable. Here’s a perspective on the Ukraine War from a member of JFK’s Cuban Missile Crisis Management Team; James R. Polk
In a rather ghastly Nineteenth Century experiment, a biologist by the name of Heinzmann found that if he placed a frog in boiling water, the frog immediately leapt out but that if he placed the frog in tepid water and then gradually heated it, the frog stayed put until he was scalded to death.
Are we like the frog? I see disturbing elements of that process today as we watch events unfold in the Ukraine confrontation. They profoundly frighten me and I believe they should frighten everyone. But they are so gradual that we do not see a specific moment in which we must jump or perish.
So here briefly, let me lay out the process of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and show how the process of that crisis compares with what we face today over the Ukraine.
Three elements stand out in the Cuban Missile Crisis: 1) Relations between the USSR and the U.S. were already “on the edge” before they reached the crisis stage; each of us had huge numbers of weapons of mass destruction aimed at the other. 2) The USSR precipitated the Crisis by advancing into Cuba, a country the U.S. had considered part of its “area of dominance” since the promulgation of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine. 3) Some military and civilian officials and influential private citizens in both countries argued that the other side would “blink” if sufficient pressure was put on it.
Allow me to point out that I had a (very uncomfortable) ringside seat in the Crisis. I was one of three members of the “Crisis Management Committee” that oversaw the unfolding events.
My mind drifts back to 1987, during the height of the Cold War, when Roger Waters sang these words:
When they overrun the defences
A minor invasion put down to expenses
Will you go down to the airport lounge
Will you accept your second class status
A nation of waitresses and waiters
Will you mix their martinis
Will you stand still for it
Or will you take to the hills