Black Swans/White House: Why JFK Matters a Half Century After Dallas

CIGI-BSIA Policy Brief No. 5

November 4, 2013

In the latest CIGI-BSIA policy brief, James G. Blight and janet M. Lang examine John F. Kennedy’s (JFK’s) cautious skepticism — his “Black Swan logic”— which he used to scrutinize the potentially disastrous consequences of US military intervention. JFK’s black swan logic helped him to avoid his hawkish advisers’ forceful attempts to bring the United States into conflicts that would have quickly escalated into nuclear war. Shedding new light on his misunderstood behaviour during an era of nuclear uncertainty, Blight and Lang conclude that JFK’s skeptical, cautious approach is as indispensable now as it was during his presidency. 

Part of Series

CIGI-BSIA Policy Brief Series

The CIGI-BSIA Policy Brief Series presents the research findings of leading BSIA scholars, developing information and analysis, including recommendations, on policy-oriented topics that address CIGI’s four core research areas: the global economy; the environment and energy; global development; and global security.

About the Authors

janet M. Lang is research professor at the BSIA and the Department of History at the University of Waterloo.