The Presidency: Time for Risk

Before his flight to Vienna, President John Kennedy made it clear to the U.S. that his meeting with Nikita Khrushchev was to be a size-up instead of a summit, a time for appraisal rather than for decisions. The President was dead right. When he flew back to Washington last week—bone-tired and pained by a back injury—Kennedy faced the same old and annoying cold war conflicts. Nothing seemed to have changed.

Returning to Moscow while John Kennedy jetted to Washington, Khrushchev appeared in bubbling good spirits. It seemed unlikely that Khrushchev would push the U.S. into any overt action by deliberate...

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