Emma hosts Martin Sherwin, University Professor of History at George Mason University, to discuss his recent book Gambling With Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette From Hiroshima To The Cuban Missile Crisis, on how war on the international stage changed when we entered the nuclear age. They begin with the moments in the climax of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and how, despite Kennedy, Castro, and Khrushchev being viewed as the main actors, the world came minutes from nuclear warfare without any of them knowing, calling into question any level of control in this crisis. Then, Emma and Martin bring us back to the bombing of Hiroshima, and how the United States could’ve put a stop to them by denouncing them, but instead legitimized them and instilled them as a symbol of American supremacy, before looking into Eisenhower’s role in putting nuclear devices at the forefront of warfare post-WWII, centering them in the arms race with the USSR and using the CIA for outlying reformist (aka Communist to the US) governments – thus setting the stage for the Bay of Pigs. Sherwin gets into the vast differences in worldviews that pulled our relationship with Cuba in all sorts of directions, from Kennedy’s use of Cuba to posture in the lead-up to his election, forcing his hand in the Bay of Pigs conflict, and ensuring he must act in the Cuban Missile Crisis, to the countless war hawks advising him. He concludes the interview reflecting on the importance of overlapping views on the conflict between Khrushchev and Kennedy in bringing it to a close, and how close we came to nuclear warfare despite that. Emma rounds out the first half by touching on Nancy Pelosi’s maintenance of college loan debt as a social mobility tax, working up her best libertarian excuses to take it out of Biden’s hands.
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