In the current situation, it’s worth listening to this podcast about nuclear near misses. The Cuban missile crisis was only one example, but is worth considering.
In 1962 the United States and Russia went eyeball to eyeball over Russia’s military base in Cuba. The whole world held its breath. At the last minute, before a scheduled US invasion, an offer arrived from Moscow: remove your base from Turkey and we will remove our troops from Cuba. Kennedy called a meeting of all the senior decision makers. Everyone in the room said it was a terrible deal, there was no way the Unites States should accept it. John Kennedy’s own brother, the Secretary of State, opposed the deal. The invasion of Cuba should go ahead. JFK listened to everyone speak in turn and at the end of the meeting he decided to accept the deal. He was the only man in the room in favour of accepting the deal, but he stuck to his decision and avoided a nuclear war.
What even the President didn’t realise at the time was that nuclear missiles were already in Cuba and ready to be used. Local Russian commanders had been given authority to use nuclear weapons if they came under attack. If the United States had invaded as planned it would almost certainly have resulted in nuclear war, and during this period scenarios for retaliation on each side involved complete destruction of both countries, and most likely, the rest of the world. If any other person in the room had been President that day in 1962 it would have been game over for humanity.
Let’s hope we have leaders ready to make the right call today, to accept an unpopular resolution, to be the only man in the room.