Members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament protest against the U.S.'s action over the Cuban missile crisis (Getty Images)
Cuban Missile Crisis Witnesses - Son of Premier Khruschev
The twentieth century was filled with opportunities to die violently -- but the standoff in 1962 could have got us all killed. U.S. President John F Kennedy explained to the world that the Soviets planned to arm Cuba with nuclear missiles. And then he explained that wasn't going to happen. The world knew that within moments a volatile leader, a misinformed general, or even a panicked phone call could trigger Armageddon.
For several days the fate of the world was in the hands of the U.S. President and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev. Here to talk about the crisis fifty years later, we were joined by Sergei Khruschev. He is a Visiting Professor of Slavic Languages at Brown University and the son of Nikita Khruschev who was Premier of the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis, fifty years ago. He was in Providence, Rhode Island.
Cuban Missile Crisis Witnesses - Panel
Canada's then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker could read a map as well as anyone; the quickest route from Moscow to Washington runs through Canadian air space. Canadian school kids practiced drills when air raid sirens wailed -- but really, the average Canadian was about as prepared for atomic attack then -- as now.
Although Eric Brown may have been in an enviable position. He watched most of the crisis from inside the Canadian Forces Station in Carp, Ontario. Better known today as the Diefenbunker during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And Andrew Burtch is historian for the post 1945 period at the Canadian War Museum. His new book is Give Me Shelter: The Failure of Canada's Cold War Civil Defence. They were both in Ottawa.
This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.
Last Word - Sunday Edition Promo
And if you've been fascinated by this morning's discussion of the Cuban Missile crisis -- don't miss The Sunday Edition with guest-host Karin Wells. She's joined by historian Jim Blight, co-author of Armageddon Letters.
He points out that you needn't want a nuclear war to get one. He says neither side wanted war 50 years ago, but politics, brinkmanship and ego pushed both sides to the edge. Jim Blight warns the world must listen to all countries with nuclear aspirations. That's on The Sunday Edition with guest-host Karin Wells.
Other segments from today's show: