NYC teacher Mr. D. decided to have his students re-enact the crisis, with surprising results.
I laid out a dossier of the facts of the case: missiles were discovered in Cuba by an American spy plane. The United States is under pressure from the Soviet Union to withdraw missiles from Turkey. The Russians are not saying for certain that there are missiles. The United States is prepared to escalate with possible military action.
I had the class divide into groups, take the facts and create a course of action. Amazingly, their plans mirrored the plans created by Kennedy’s cabinet and Pentagon officials in 1962. One group favored a military option, a direct strike on the Cuban missiles. Another group favored a covert operation to disable the missiles. Still another favored a unilateral pullout from Turkey as a sign of goodwill.
What was most astonishing was my last group. They actually said, “Maybe we should get other countries on our side by showing them what we have.” By doing so, they figured, it would make the Soviets look like the bad guy, the aggressor. I was floored. These were barely teenagers and they tackled delicate foreign policy like a pro.