DAY #2: CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On Wednesday, October 17, 1962, President Kennedy received a letter from UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson.*
The ambassador called upon JFK to talk directly to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev concerning the nuclear missiles sites we had discovered in Cuba.
Mr. Stevenson also said in the letter that, in his opinion, JFK “should have made it clear that the existence of nuclear missile bases” in Cuba or anywhere else in the world, “is NEGOTIABLE.”
A copy of the letter, declassified & available at the JFK Library website, reads:
“Because an attack would very likely result in Soviet reprisals…it is important that we have as much of the world with us as possible. To start…a nuclear war is bound to be divisive at best & the judgments of history seldom coincide with the tempers of the moment.”
According to today’s posting by James M. Lindsay on “The Water’s Edge,” EXCOMM met at 8:30 a.m. in the State Department on Oct. 17, 1962.
Mr. Lindsay writes that the President was not present, but that CIA director, John McCone was.
He also says that at this meeting most of the participants believed Khrushchev had put the missiles in Cuba with the intention of putting pressure on the U.S. position in West Berlin.
According to Lindsay, McGeorge Bundy, JFK’s adviser on national security, left this meeting early to go over to the White House to brief the President.
Lindsay also says that JFK directed John McCone to go to Gettysburg to brief former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who recommended a military strike on Havana.*
*There is no source given for the information in this article (“TWE Remembers: JFK Solicits Ike’s Advisers, Cuban Missile Crisis Day 2” at www.blogs.cfr.org) JFK+50 is in the process of attempting to find verification.
MISCONCEPTIONS OF THE MISSILE CRISIS
In THE KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL, Sunday, October 14, 2012, an article titled “Cuban missile crisis misconceptions endure” by Peter Orsi of Associated Press appeared.
There are 3 misconceptions which Mr. Orsi identifies*:
1. The crisis was a triumph of U.S. brinksmanship.
2. Washington won, Moscow lost.
3. The crisis lasted just 13 days.
*There are 2 other misconceptions identified in the online version:
4. It was a high-seas showdown
5. It was an intelligence coup for the CIA
JFK+50 will discuss today the 4th misconception.
IT WAS A HIGH SEAS SHOWDOWN
Mr. Orsi argues that the Cuban Missile Crisis is largely seen through the famous quote of Secretary of State Dean Rusk made as word came through that the Soviet ships had turned back:
‘We stood eyeball to eyeball, & the other fellow just blinked.”
But according to Peter Kornbluh, in the November 2012 issue of Cigar Aficionado…
“This thing about eyeball to eyeball, it never was. That confrontation (on the high seas between US & Soviet ships) never took place.
Mr. Orsi adds that Rusk’s comment was made on October 24th, a day AFTER Khrushchev recalled his ships.