Steps to Defuse a Crisis

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WASHINGTON — As the United States and Iran move closer toward open confrontation, it’s important that both take quiet steps to avoid the miscalculations and misunderstandings that can lead to an inadvertent military conflict. It’s been done before: During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, President Kennedy used a back channel to communicate American resolve to the Soviets, and also explore a formula for settlement. The key points of contact were his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and the Soviet ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Dobrynin. That exchange helped avoid nuclear war. Washington and Tehran today lack any similar means of communication in a crisis. Since the embassy…

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