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The Project on Managing the Atom, the Applied History Project, and the Intelligence Project-alongside the entire Belfer Center community-invite everyone to attend a full-day conference (either in-person or virtually via Zoom Webinar for anyone interested) discussing the implications of the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 continues to stand as the single most dangerous event of the nuclear age, when the world came closer than ever before or since to the prospect of nuclear annihilation. Scholars and analysts continue to revisit the CMC to learn its lessons in order to avoid nuclear dangers in the future. A number of recent accounts have shed new light on the various aspects of and incidents within the CMC, providing us with a better understanding of the dynamics of the crisis. As the world marks 60 years since those fateful events, the risk of nuclear conflagration is once again on the rise. Russia, a major nuclear power, is waging a war against Ukraine, a state supported by the United States and NATO, a nuclear-armed alliance. What were the most dangerous moments of the CMC? What contributed to and what ameliorated the risks of a nuclear conflagration? What can we learn from the CMC that is pertinent for preventing a conventional war in Ukraine from crossing the nuclear threshold? MTA brings together historians and political scientists to discuss the state of the art of history and politics of the Cuban Missile Crisis and gauge its relevance for the war in Ukraine and for future crises and conflicts. 

This is a hybrid event. Members of the Harvard community and the public are welcome to register for in-person attendance at the Thompson Room in the Barker Center; coffee and lunch will be provided. Everyone is also invited to attend virtually via Zoom webinar. Registration for both is below. See the "Speakers" tab for more information about the participants, and a detailed agenda is forthcoming.

While this virtual event is on the record, the event organizers prohibit any attendees, including journalists, from audio/visual recording or distributing parts or all of the event program without prior written authorization.

In-person Registration (Click Here)        Zoom Registration (Click Here)

To reflect on the Cuban Missile Crisis, its consequences, and its relevance for the current historical moment, we will be joined by:

Graham Allison, Harvard Kennedy School

Christopher Andrew, University of Cambridge

Sarah Bidgood, CNS Monterey

Tom Blanton, National Security Archive

Mariana Budjeryn, Harvard Kennedy School

Matt Bunn, Harvard Kennedy School

Rose McDermott, Brown University

Timothy Naftali, New York University

Benoît Pelopidas, Sciences Po.

Sergey Radchenko, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Scott Sagan, Stanford University

Svetlana Savranskaya, National Security Archive

Calder Walton, Harvard Kennedy School

Philip Zelikow,  University of Virginia

With a special address by Ash Carter, General Viktor Esin, and Ambassador Linton Brooks

8:30a – 8:45a              Arrival and registration

8:45a – 9:00a              Welcome by Ash Carter (recording)

9:00a – 10:30a            Panel 1. Rethinking Lessons from the CMC

Moderator/discussant: Tom Blanton, National Security Archive


10:30a-10:45a             Coffee break

10:45a-12:15p            Panel 2. (Mis)Perceptions, Intelligence, and Technology in the CMC

Moderator: Maria Robson-Morrow, Intelligence Project, Harvard Kennedy School


12:15p – 1:30p            Lunch

Starting 12:40: Address by General Viktor Esin (recording) and Amb. Linton Brooks (via zoom)

1:30p – 2:30p              Panel 3. Most Dangerous Moments of CMC

                                    Moderator: Francesca Giovannini, MTA, Harvard Kennedy School


2:30p - 2:45p              Coffee break

2:45p – 4:15p              Panel 4.CMC’s Long Shadow: Consequences for Today

                                    Moderator: Mariana Budjeryn, MTA, Harvard Kennedy School

4:15p – 4:30p              Concluding remarks. (Bill Perry, Stanford, TBD)