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"Still Learning Fresh Lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis"

Belfer Center Director Graham Allison (right) and Future of Diplomacy Directory Nicholas Burns lead a conversation about the Cuban Missile Crisis for its 50th anniversary.
(Photo by Tom Fitzsimmons)

"Still Learning Fresh Lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis"

Belfer Center’s 50th Anniversary Events Focus on Ideas for Today’s Crises

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Winter 2012-2013

Author: Sharon Wilke, Associate Director of Communications


Through a special Cuban Missile Crisis website, a lessons-learned contest, a conference of U.S. and Russian experts, a student-organized crisis simulation, and several other events, the Belfer Center provided background on the Crisis and asked policymakers and the public to think about what we can learn from it.

Hundreds of people from around the world submitted essays in response to the lessons-learned contest co-sponsored by the Belfer Center and Foreign Policy magazine.

“Our purpose in commemorating the most dangerous moment in human history with a special website and related events was to get people thinking and reflecting on lessons from that event that can inform choices about current challenges,” said Graham Allison, director of the Belfer Center. “We invited teenagers, the general public, graduate students, and security professionals to connect the dots between those 13 days in 1962 and today. We are pleased that we got so many thoughtful, imaginative responses from around the country and around the globe.”

The Center’s special website provides extensive background on the Crisis and also offers tools to understand how it can inform contemporary policy. Visitors can find key facts about the events of the 13 days along with original historic documents, such as audio recordings of President Kennedy’s telephone conversation with former President Eisenhower discussing ways to deal with the crisis, and a phone conversation in which General Curtis LeMay tells Kennedy, “You’re in a pretty bad fix.”

The site explores the most important lessons drawn from the Crisis by leaders and scholars over the past 50 years, provides teaching materials, and includes information about the nuclear threats facing the world today.


For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.

For Academic Citation:

Wilke, Sharon. "Still Learning Fresh Lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis." Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Winter 2012-2013.

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Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.