The main issue that radicalized me when I first became a student activist in the 1960s was war, the actual bloody war going on in Viet-Nam, and the always pending war, permanently etched into the back of my mind, the threat of nuclear war between Russia and the United States. I became a draft resister in 1967, like hundreds of thousands of others, and refused to go to Viet-Nam, opting to become a non-violent warrior for peace and justice instead.
The nuclear standoff that traumatized me and a whole generation of anti-war and civil rights activists arose during the Cuban missile crisis of October 16-28, 1962—60 years ago.
Years later I learned that a global catastrophe in October 1962 was averted only because a Soviet submarine commander, off the coast of Cuba, disobeyed orders to fire his nuclear missiles, after a U.S. naval vessel dropped explosive depth-charges, trying to force the Russian submarine to the surface. The 1962 nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union, eerily reminiscent of the current nuclear standoff in Ukraine, was precipitated by American deployment of nuclear missiles in Turkey, adjacent to the borders of the USSR, prompting Soviet deployment of intermediate atomic missiles in Cuba. Read more