With all due respect, Lew Jeppson (Readers' Forum, June 5) is the one in need of some history lessons. John F. Kennedy, against the counsel of his advisers, met with Khrushchev, who was emboldened by what he perceived as weakness in Kennedy.

Absent this perception, it is unlikely that Russian missiles would have been placed in Cuba in the first place, and there would have been no Cuban missile crisis — call it what you like, but Kennedy did little more than escape from a hole that he was largely responsible for digging.

Kennedy himself later admitted that he should not have met with Khrushchev. This analogy, and the others advanced by Jeppson, are largely irrelevant to his critique of President Bush. Both Syria and Iran have long been in the business of state-sponsored terrorism — for all their other faults, the Soviet Union and China were not.

Peter F. Malen Jr.

Salt Lake City