On January 29, 2020, Fred Kaplan of Slate magazine, appeared on NPR to discuss his new book “The Bomb”. How close has the world come to nuclear war, Mr. Kaplan was asked. He replied that during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, President Kennedy’s military advisors did not hesitate to suggest a nuclear attack on Cuba. President Kennedy held his peace but he had already decided on a path towards a compromise. If Russia removed its missiles from Cuba, the US would agree to remove its missiles that were situated in Turkey. A perfect compromise and a path away from mutual destruction.
The paradigm of the JFK decision in October 1962 is a reminder that however high the stakes may be, disputes can be resolved by logical, creative thinking. When parties look at WATNA i.e. the Worst Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. Never give up on the possibility of a resolution to a dispute. You may not be saving the world, as JFK may have done, but you will have chosen a most constructive manner of achieving dispute resolution. Mediate don’t litigate.