By Jim Stuart -
In 1962, after nuclear missiles
were discovered in Cuba, President John F. Kennedy faced down his Soviet Rival
Nikita Khrushchev, almost precipitating a nuclear exchange. The principal reason
JFK took a firm stand was to protect his image. In those days, with the Cold War
in full swing, it was important to maintain a posture of strength and resolve.
Each side was constantly
testing the other for signs of weakness that could be exploited. Earlier in
1961, Kennedy had been humiliated at the Bay of Pigs, and Eisenhower had warned
him that the Soviets would be emboldened as a result. So when the missiles were
discovered, Kennedy's primary concern was not any strategic advantage they might
pose (the US had offsetting nuclear missiles already installed in Italy and
Turkey), but rather, that he not appear weak. Such was his concern for his image
of strength and resolve that he was willing to risk a nuclear confrontation.
Fast forward to the year 2010.
While the Cold War has ended and the Soviet Union exists no longer, there is no
shortage of hostile regimes or groups facing off against the US. These - Iran,
Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, North Korea, Russia, China, and Al Qaeda who - while
not as powerful militarily as was the USSR - are perhaps more aggressive and
less predictable than the old foe. Certainly, there is little doubt that any one
of them could wreak havoc if a major conflict were to break out.
From the perspective of our
enemies, how is this administration shaping up in the area of strength and
resolve? Under little or no pressure, Obama withdrew missile defences in Eastern
Europe. He has created deadlines and threatened sanctions against Iran which
have been ignored without consequences.
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