Barack Obama continued to display his surprisingly flimsy grasp of American history yesterday. “This whole notion of not talking to people,” began the longtime community organizer. “It didn't hold in the '60s, it didn't hold in the '70s ... When Kennedy met with (Soviet leader Nikita) Khrushchev, we were on the brink of nuclear war."
There’s only one problem with this analysis – Khrushchev and Kennedy met in the first months of Kennedy’s term. The Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t happen until 16 months later. Furthermore, if we really want to dig into the history, many historians believe that the Vienna Summit between the two leaders did much to trigger the Cuban Missile Crisis. Khrushchev, relying on the Bay of Pigs fiasco and what he later saw at Vienna, determined that his American counterpart was a weak sister who could be bullied.
Since Obama obviously knows nothing about the Vienna Summit, he surely doesn’t know that in some circles it’s viewed as a cautionary tale regarding the inherent risks of diplomacy with malevolent regimes (or “talking to people” as Obama prefers to think of such activities). Besides, Kennedy at Vienna was quite frankly a much tougher and more hard-headed leader than one can imagine Obama being. At one point, Kennedy responded to Khrushchev’s blustering by declaring, “Then, Mr. Chairman, there will be a war. It will be a cold, long winter.”
Picture via Hugh Hewitt.