In one sense, this unit explores contrasting events—America's success in staring down the Soviets in Cuba, thereby enforcing the policy of containment versus Nixon's visit to China, reversing 25 years of uncompromising anti-communist foreign policy. Perhaps even more curiously, in contrast to Kennedy's use of nuclear-backed quarantine, Nixon prepared the way for his visit to China with ping pong paddles.
But as we emphasize here, the two events had mar more in common than was acknowledged at the time. The resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis had less to do with the public bravado of the president than his behind-the-scenes willingness to negotiate. Therefore we encourage you to take this opportunity to help your students look closely at the keys to the resolution of the crisis, and, as part of their analysis, to think about whether American interests might have been even better served by making a deal that allowed Soviet Premier Khrushchev to save face.