Fifty years after the Cuban missile crisis, where mankind came as close to being wiped off the face of the Earth as ever before or since, the world finds itself on the brink of another potentially devastating nuclear standoff — this time between Iran, Israel and the U.S.
In October of 1962, the world watched terrified and helpless, waiting for possible nuclear Armageddon as U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev squared off over medium-range missiles discovered just 144 kilometres from the Florida coast.
The two nations engaged in a potentially catastrophic game of cat and mouse for weeks before negotiation — not confrontation — pulled the world from the edge of disaster.
In exchange for Khrushchev’s withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba, Kennedy agreed to promise not to invade Fidel Castro’s Caribbean island and to withdraw U.S. missiles from Turkey.
Today, an ever-aggressive and intransigent Iran threatens to once again plunge the planet into a nuclear confrontation.
Its unpredictable and dangerous leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have repeatedly thumbed their noses at United Nations attempts to inspect the nation’s expanding nuclear facilities, earning widespread economic sanctions as a result.
Their response? Iran is talking tough, even going so far as to threaten to boost levels of uranium enrichment in an effort to poke a stick in the eye of their archenemies.
Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu has already warned Iran that it is getting close to a “red line,” the point at which a pre-emptive strike by Israel is inevitable.
During the Cuban crisis, Khrushchev and Kennedy clearly understood what was at stake, with each willing to do what had to be done to avoid the certainty of mutual destruction should nuclear weapons ever be used.
There’s no such guarantee with Ahmadinejad, whose staunch support for the murderous regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad offers proof of his disregard for the value of human life and his apparent willingness to do whatever it takes to hold the world hostage for the sake of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
There’s no doubt the world is a safer place since the end of the Cold War, but Iran has stirred up the ghosts of an era when reason prevailed over rhetoric, commons sense over calamity.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by editor Robert Koopmans, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, news editor Mike Cornell or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.