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Matlock on escalating war: 'It’s hard to see how we get out of this'

The former American ambassador spoke at a recent retrospective on the Cuban Missile Crisis and lamented the lessons lost.

Europe

Jack Matlock Jr., who was a young U.S. foreign service officer stationed in Moscow during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and then ambassador there 20 years later under the Reagan Administration, joined a seasoned panel of national security specialists, scholars, and journalists last week to discuss Oct. 27, 1962 — the most militarily fraught day of the crisis before back channel talks between Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and U.S. President John F. Kennedy produced an agreement and averted nuclear war.

Matlock, who has been quite vocal about the diplomatic mistakes made by the U.S. after the fall of the Soviet Union — including NATO expansion — said he was worried that events today in Ukraine have gone well beyond control, with both sides raising the specter of nuclear war again, but this time with no talking. "It’s hard to see how we get out of this,” he said, shaking his head.

He was joined for the event (co-sponsored by the American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord and the Quincy Institute) by moderator Katrina vanden Heuvel (ACURA/The Nation), Svetlana Savranskaya (National Security Archive, George Washington University), and Tom Blanton (director, National Security Archive).

Blanton, who has done extensive research into declassified materials relating to the Cuban Missile Crisis timeline, warned that like 1962, “events are in the saddle and riding mankind. The lessons are that nukes are a fundamentally destabilizing dark alley where none of us should go.” 

Please listen to the entire event, here (opening remarks by me):

60th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis event, Tabard Inn, Washington, on Oct. 27, 2022. From left, Svetlana Savranskaya, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and Jack Matlock Jr. (Photo by Khody Akhavi)
Europe
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