JFK's drug addictions almost caused nuclear war

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If the Cuban Missile Crisis had happened in the summer of 1961, rather than 1962, the outcome would have been a nuclear exchange.

These were the words last night of British politician Lord Owen, formerly Foreign Secretary David Llewellyn Owen of the Labour and Social Democratic parties. At a talk based on his new book, In Sickness & In Power: illness in heads of government during the last 100 years, Owen went on to explain:

"Kennedy had been receiving daily injections of amphetamines for a month before a key meeting with Khrushchev [in Vienna in 1961]... He received an intravenous injection only 45 minutes before the meeting itself which, the President himself admitted, was a disaster."

Doctors gradually gained control over Kennedy's level of drug-taking. He went on to handle the Cuban Missile Crisis with competence and firmness. Owen's point, however, is the then president's debilitated physical and mental condition could easily have led to nuclear devastation. Indeed, had records been made public, he may never have been elected.

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