Follow us on social


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.


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)
Ukraine-Poland row exposes history, limits of devotion
Credit: Polish President Andrzej Duda (Shutterstock/BikerBarakuss) and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky (Shutterstock/Oleksandr Osipov)

Ukraine-Poland row exposes history, limits of devotion


The vitriolic dispute between Poland and Ukraine brings out some aspects of the West’s approach to the war in Ukraine that the Ukrainian government would do well to study carefully.

The dispute originated in charges by Poland and other central European governments that Ukraine’s greatly increased grain exports to Europe — a consequence of the Russian closure of the Black Sea to Ukrainian maritime trade — were flooding European markets and depressing prices for Polish and other farmers.

keep readingShow less
Rep. Gerry Connolly

Rep. Gerry Connolly, screengrab via

How members of Congress can take on Iran hawks

Middle East

During a recent House hearing on “Iran’s escalating threats,” a Democratic lawmaker completely dismantled all the myths opponents of diplomacy peddle about Iran and its nuclear program.

The hearing was dominated by hawkish voices on Iran, who urged for increasing pressure and spurned any diplomatic engagement. The only exception was Suzanne Maloney from the Brookings Institute, who took a more moderate stance.

keep readingShow less
Brazil is showing us how to avoid a new cold war

President Joe Biden and Brazilian President Lula. photo: White House

Brazil is showing us how to avoid a new cold war

Latin America

When the BRICS grouping held its annual summit in late August, it was widely covered as a portentous affair that signaled a ripening challenge to the U.S.-led global order.

For the first time, the group expanded considerably, reflecting a growing ambition not necessarily shared by each original member. It was reasonable to wonder whether a robust challenge to U.S. hegemony was imminent.

keep readingShow less

Ukraine War Crisis