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Michael Klare, An All-American Path to War?

Michael Klare, An All-American Path to War?

The single scariest night of my life may have been on October 22, 1962, when I thought that all the duck-and-cover moments of my childhood were coming home to roost. President John F. Kennedy appeared on national television (and radio) to warn us all to duck and cover. The Soviet Union, it seemed, had managed to emplace medium-range nuclear missiles in Cuba that could reach major East coast cities. He was ordering a naval “quarantine” of the island.  As he put it, “We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth, but neither will we shrink from the risk at any time it must be faced.”

That was the beginning of what came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Of course, I’m here today, so neither New Haven, where I was then a freshman in college, nor New York, where I grew up, had its Hiroshima moment, nor did anyplace else in the U.S., Russia, or Cuba.  Still, it felt too close for comfort.

Despite all the years of the Cold War still to come, I never again felt that unforgettable sense that a nuclear war might break out.  But never say never, not on a planet filled with such weaponry, not when its two major powers, the U.S. and China, are increasingly facing off, particularly over the island of Taiwan.

Last month, for instance, Admiral Sam Paparo, commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet, called China a “pacing threat,” explaining that “I worry about China’s intentions. It doesn’t make a difference to me whether it is tomorrow, next year, or whether it is in six years…

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