55th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis: How Does the Past Inform Today’s U.S.-North Korea Standoff?

What: American University experts comment on the 55th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis and its lessons for American foreign policy.

When: Thursday, Oct.5, 2017- ongoing

Where: On campus, in studio, via phone, Skype, or Facetime

Background: In October 1962, the world was on the brink of catastrophe. The Cuban Missile Crisis is often considered the closest the United States and the Soviet Union ever came to full-scale nuclear war.

Understanding this important historical event is crucial in light of the current standoff between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un.

As you cover the anniversary of this landmark event and its continuing repercussions, we hope you will consider speaking with AU experts listed below. 

Philip Brenner is professor of international relations at American University’s School of International Service, director of the graduate program in U.S. foreign policy and national security, and affiliate professor of history. A specialist in U.S. Latin American policy, he has been engaged in research and writing about Cuba and U.S.-Cuban relations since 1974. Prof. Brenner’s 2002 study, Sad and Luminous Days: Cuba’s Struggle with the Superpowers after the Missile Crisis with James G. Blight. explores the Cuban missile crisis from the Cuban perspective, and reveals a secret speech the Fidel Castro delivered to the Cuban leadership in 1968. His latest book is Cuba Libre: A 500-Year Quest for Independence.

Max Paul Friedman, professor of diplomatic history, specializes in 20th-century U.S. relations with Western Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. His latest policy brief on Latin America can be found here. An author and op-ed contributor, Friedman has written for the Christian Science Monitor, New York Daily News, Miami Herald, and other publications and broadcast media in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Latin America. He wrote about the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations for the Orlando Sentinel and The National Interest. On the 55th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he observes that “the crisis was caused as much by U.S. interference in Cuban affairs--proxy invasion, assassination attempts, sabotage--as by Soviet nuclear ambitions. As U.S.-Cuban relations take a turn for the worse, it’s worth remembering that five decades of hostility from Washington only strengthened the Castro brothers’ government. Just as negotiation and compromise proved essential to preventing a nuclear catastrophe during the Missile Crisis, today the United States should use diplomacy to seek mutual agreements that advance the interests of both countries.” 

William LeoGrande, professor in the School of Public Affairs, is a renowned expert on Cuban politics and U.S.-Cuban relations. LeoGrande is the coauthor of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana and author of Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977 to 1992. He served as a high-level adviser to government and private sector agencies. and served on the staffs of the Democratic Policy Committee of the United States Senate, and the Democratic Caucus Task Force on Central America of the United States House of Representatives.



American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 130 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.