Jack 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

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Reprinted from Responsible Statecraft with permission.

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 US President John F. Kennedy produced an agreement and averted nuclear war.

Matlock, who has been quite vocal about the diplomatic mistakes made by the US 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):

4 thoughts on “Jack Matlock on Escalating War: ‘It’s Hard To See How We Get Out of This’”

  1. It’s easy. Biden and Putin sit down at a table and talk. Putin has been vying for that since December, 2021. No Blinken, Austin, Nuland anywhere near.

    1. But Biden is not willing, that is the big elephant in the room.
      It could be so easy if there was a coalition of the willing for peace.

  2. Nov 1, 2022 UN votes 152 to 5 telling Israel to get rid of its nuclear weapons

    The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly, 152 to 5, to tell the Israeli apartheid regime to get rid of its nuclear weapons, which are illegal under international law.


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