What the Cuban Missile Crisis Can Teach Us About Barack Obama

Posted: Oct 20, 2008 4:51 PM
Joe Biden's warning that Barack Obama's election will precipitate an international crisis included these words: 
"It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy."
While Kennedy is fondly remembered today, it should be noted that during his presidency, America came closer than we have ever come to nuclear war.

As Michael Dobbs implies in his new book, "One Minute to Midnight," the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred -- at least partly -- because of Kennedy's previous mishandling of a summit meeting with Khruschev (remember how Obama wants to meet with everyone without pre-conditions?):

"Their single summit meeting -- in Vienna, in June 1961 -- had been a brutal experience for Kennedy.  Khruschev had treated him like a little boy, lecturing him on American misdeeds, threatening to take over West Berlin, and boasting about the inevitable triumph of Communism."
... It's not hard to imagine Ahmadenijad schooling Obama like this.  Dobbs goes on to write,

"... 'Roughest thing in my life,' Kennedy had told James Reston of The New York Times, after it was all over, 'He just beat the hell out of me.'  Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was contemptuous of his boss's performance.  'Khruschev scared the poor little fellow dead,' he told his cronies."

... It's not hard to imagine Joe Biden saying (or at least, thinking) the very same thing of Obama. 

Dobbs adds,
"As Kennedy later confessed to Reston, his superpower rival had no doubt concluded that "I'm inexperienced.  Probably thinks I'm stupid.  Maybe most important, he thinks I have no guts."

...Yes, it's true, foreign leaders pay attention to which leaders they deem to be weak and/or inexperienced.  They size-up their adversaries, and determine whether or not they can take the next step.  In this instance, Kennedy's perceived weakness and inexperience emboldened Khruschev. 

And while Kennedy's inexperience fortunately did not result in a nuclear war, it did lead us to the brink of nuclear war -- a situation which would never have occurred if Eisenhower had been in office -- or if Nixon had succeeded him...