On the Brink

I think that, by and large, there are these two broad alternatives: One, the quick strike. The other, to alert our allies and Mr. Khrushchev that there is an utterly serious crisis in the making here, and that Mr. Khrushchev may not himself really understand that or believe that at this point. I think then we’ll be facing a situation that could well lead to general war.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War’s most dangerous episode of nuclear brinkmanship, began on this day in 1962 when photographs from U-2 reconnaissance missions revealed the presence of Russian ballistic missile sites in Cuba; the comments above are by Secretary of State Dean Rusk, speaking at the first Kennedy administration Cabinet meeting (October 16) called to discuss the situation.

Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.