The Fog of War – Lesson #1: Empathize with your enemy

On October 27, 1967, the White House found itself in receipt of two messages from Kruschev.

  • The first message said that if the US was to guarantee that it would not invade Cuba, the USSR would withdraw the missiles
  • The second message said that if the US attacked Cuba, the USSR would respond with devastating military power

Thomas “Tommy” Thompson, a former ambassador to Moscow, was in the room. He urged Kennedy to respond to the first message. He saw that Kruschev would capitulate if he was presented a deal in which he could say to the Russian people that he saved Cuba from a US invasion.

“We must try to put ourselves inside their skin and look at us through their eyes, just to understand the thoughts that lie behind their decisions and their actions.”