Thursday, May 22, 2008

When talks are destructive

Senator Obama defended his position by again enlisting Kennedy’s legacy: “If George Bush and John McCain have a problem with direct diplomacy led by the president of the United States, then they can explain why they have a problem with John F. Kennedy, because that’s what he did with Khrushchev.”

But Kennedy’s one presidential meeting with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, suggests that there are legitimate reasons to fear negotiating with one’s adversaries...

Kennedy went ahead, and for two days he was pummeled by the Soviet leader... The Soviet leader left Vienna elated — and with a very low opinion of the leader of the free world. ...

A little more than two months later, Khrushchev gave the go-ahead to begin erecting what would become the Berlin Wall. Kennedy had resigned himself to it, telling his aides in private that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” The following spring, Khrushchev made plans to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants”: nuclear missiles in Cuba.
--Nathan Thrall and Jesse James Wilkins, NYT, on reasons not to talk

1 comment:

Ray C. said...

Krushchev was famously wacky and volatile. You could've thrown Eisenhower in there and Ike would've left feeling demoralized.