Briefly identify a key feature of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In my mind, I think that one of the key features of the Cuban Missile Crisis was the use of diplomacy and insight into an adversary in order to avoid conflict.  The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the nuclear capacities of the Soviet Union and the United States into clear and a sense of crystallized focus.  Yet, I believe that the idea of "empathizing with the enemy," as Robert McNamara would later say is what ended up proving to be so critical about the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The key feature of the entire event was how the United States pursued diplomacy and strategic thought in avoiding war and conflict.  The "saber- rattling" and quick impulses to declare war and immediately strike, something that was by advisors such as General Curtis LeMay, was avoided.  The Cuban Missile Crisis demonstrated that the modern setting, one defined by the presence of totalizing destruction embodied in nuclear weapons, is one where caution and a sense of understanding one's adversary is needed.  Negotiation and careful political manoeuvring replaced immediate retaliatory military action.  It is here where I think that a very key feature of the Cuban Missile Crisis presents itself for both reflection and study.

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