WHO REALLY WON THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS?
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, articles are appearing in newspapers & online attacking the traditional or conventional view of the event.
In today’s & following posts, JFK+50 will review several of these articles & give our take on this revisionism.
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 2nd misconception.
WASHINGTON WON, MOSCOW LOST
Mr. Orsi writes:
“The United States came out a winner, but so did the Soviet Union.”
Very true but JFK+50 would argue that most people who are educated on the Cuban Missile Crisis have always understood this to be true.
I was 14 in 1962 & can’t really remember what the consensus was at the time, but I would assume it probably would have been “Washington won, Moscow lost,” but as detailed information became available, it would have changed to both Washington & Moscow won.
And that would have been within just a few years…so Mr. Orsi’s premise that “Washington won, Moscow lost” would have only been true at the time of the crisis and a short time afterwards, at least for those who were interested enough to do some research.
David G. Coleman*, a University of Virginia historian who has written a new book tilted “The Fourteenth Day,” says:
“Kennedy…carefully avoided any talk of ‘winning’ the crisis…but in the eyes of the world…that was precisely what he had done.”*
While this statement tends to support Orsi’s premise, again it verifies that this was the consensus world opinion at the time.**
*David G. Coleman is chairman of the Presidential Recordings Program at the Miller Center of Public Affairs. He specializes in the JFK-LBJ recordings. Dr. Coleman earned his PhD at the University of Queensland, Australia.
His book, “The 14th Day: JFK & the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Secret White House Tapes” is published by W.W. Norton & Company.
Mr. Orsi goes on to tell us that behind the scenes, JFK negotiated an end to the crisis, in part, by offering to withdraw our Jupiter missiles from Turkey, along with the public pledge not to invade Cuba, if the Soviets would remove their missiles from Cuba.
This is accurate &, according to Mr. Orsi, “gave Khrushchev enough to feel he had saved face, & the following day he announced the imminent dismantling of offensive weapons in Cuba.”
Orsi quotes Robert Pastor of American University who said:
“The major lesson (of the Cuban Missile Crisis) is the necessity of compromise even when faced with a crisis like that.”