In times of crisis and difficult political situations, these two men stood tall and strong for their country to ensure peace for the people of this world. Adlai Stevenson of the United States and Valerian Zorin of the Soviet Union eventually went head to head in a session of the United Nations Security Council, but both had great political careers serving as ambassadors for two countries on opposite sides of the Cold War spectrum prior to that encounter.
Khrushchev had not instructed Zorin to change his position of not being truthful to the Security Council about the missiles in Cuba. That would play out to be a key flaw in the Soviet plans to continue the construction of missile sites in Cuba. That one flaw caused the collapse of the Soviet operations in Cuba and ended Khrushchev’s time as their Premier because of the end result that the missiles had to be withdrawn.
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In the days before the encounter, Zorin had denied the existence of the weapons. Then the day of the encounter between the two Zorin offered a statement that the weapons in Cuba do not even exist. The Americans assumed that Zorin was not aware that Americans knew the weapons existed and that the Soviet’s Foreign Ministry had not told Zorin to adjust his position. The result of that breakdown was the Soviet Union was now in a position where the world began to question its credibility. The blame should not be solely placed on Zorin.
The real culprit was the Soviet Union as a whole because Zorin only presented to the United Nations what he was instructed to present. That was one of Zorin’s final debates while being the Soviet ambassador to the United Nations and it was unfortunate that he was misinformed by his country at such a crucial time.
Adlai was not even close to winning the United Nations Security Council debate as well as the support of the world at the beginning of the session. United States President, John F Kennedy told his assistants to tell Adlai to stick it to Zorin and don’t let him off. Well, the assistants did not have faith in Adlai at all, but the special assistant mentioned that you can’t Adlai out this late, he knows the score and how much time is left in the game.
Adlai entered the room of the Security Council and was determined to stick it to Zorin. What Adlai was trying to accomplish something that a lot of people thought he was not up for nor could handle, taking out Ambassador Zorin in front of the world. What happened in the encounter helped shape the outcome of the crisis in Cuba in 1962.
When Adlai walked into the Council, Zorin welcomed him and then pointed out that the world was asking questions about whether accusations by the United States about missiles in Cuba were true or not. Adlai pointed out to Zorin that his story had changed throughout the week.
Zorin refused to answer the questions asked by Mr. Stevenson. Then right then and there Adlai was given the floor by the representative of Chile, with that opportunity the United States unveiled the photos of Soviet missiles in Cuba. That proved the fact that the country lying was the Soviet Union, not the United States. More importantly, Adlai outdid the expectations of the world as well as the people of the Kennedy Administration. Had the United States pulled Adlai out, the world would have never known the actual existence of missiles in Cuba and could have set the stage for war. Adlai said in the movie Thirteen Days “I’m an old political cat, but I still have one life left” and he did prove he had one last burst of diplomacy in him.
The fact is that the two being enemies at one point, they still stand and are remembered as great figures of diplomacy. Their careers involved serving their country in their times of need. Adlai, once a governor and candidate for president and Zorin, an ambassador for the Soviet Union to a lot of countries, the thing in common was their push to get their views out into the world. Both were never afraid to be challenged or to be faced with adversity in their work. In fact, both handle themselves quite well, but in the end, the one thing that never happened that the world feared because of the diplomatic work of the two men was the eruption of the Cold War.
Many people in the world are thankful that the small incident did not turn into a nuclear war and you can thank the work of Adlai Stevenson on that twenty-fifth day of October because other wise our country could have been made into ruins in a matter of minutes. To that, the United Nations proved its usefulness while earning its stature by preventing World War Three.
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