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The Missile Crisis Shows the Soviet Union Must Die

Excerpt from How America Got It Right, by Bevin Alexander, pages 171-72

A profound, less obvious consequence of the Cuban missile crisis [of 1962] was this: it showed that the Soviet Union was bound to die. The Soviet Union relied only on force to expand. It kept a huge, heavily equipped army whose thousands of tanks seemed capable of overrunning Europe within days. If such an event actually occurred, it would fatally weaken the United States. If the United States could not keep the Russians out of Western Europe, it could not stop them from seizing the rest of the world. Cuba demonstrated, however, that if faced with a crisis like overrunning of Western Europe—which would threaten the very existence of the United States— Washington would respond with nuclear strikes directly against the cities of Russia. As the leaders in the Kremlin absorbed this reality, they comprehended they could not use brute force to achieve their goals. Cuba had erased that possibility.

The Soviet Union could challenge the United Statesonly on economic and political grounds, and on these it was hopelessly inferior. The sole hope lay in “peaceful coexistence.” But even this gave no guarantee, because the Soviet Union’s noncompetitive economy offered no model for the world, and this in turn eliminated its political influence over any country not already under its heel. Consequently, the Soviet Union inevitably would succumb to free markets.

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