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WHO REALLY WON THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS?

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.



USAF Photo


         


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.


**Source: http://www.conwaydailysun.com


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.”

 

MISSILE CRISIS NOT A TRIUMPH OF U.S. BRINKSMANSHIP

CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS WAS NOT A TRIUMPH OF U.S. BRINKSMANSHIP

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 today’s KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL, Sunday, October 14, 2012, an article titled “Cuban missile crisis misconceptions endure” by Peter Orsi of Associated Press appears.


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 1st misconception.


THE CRISIS WAS A TRIUMPH OF BRINKSMANSHIP


Brinksmanship is a term coined by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to describe the policy of the administration of President Eisenhower of pushing the threat of the use of nuclear weapons to the limit.

 

USAF Photo, October 17, 1962


         


Orsi’s argument is that the Kennedy administration, in reality, used “backdoor diplomacy,” rather than brinksmanship to resolve the crisis.


We do not discount the argument that backdoor diplomacy, unknown to the public at the time, played an important role in the resolution of this crisis, but JFK+50 does believe the classification of JFK’s policy as being one of brinksmanship, in & of itself,  is inaccurate as applied to the Cuban Missile Crisis.


To support this, we will take a look at JFK’s speech of October 22, 1962.  He said:


“Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation (in Cuba)…to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.


This secret, swift, (&) extraordinary buildup…is a deliberately provocative & unjustifiable change in the status quo.


Our policy has been one of patience & restraint…but now…action is required.


We will not…unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war…but neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced.”


These words clearly show that JFK is taking action in response to the Soviet threat to the United States & the Western Hemisphere.


And the action he announces is one of “restraint.”


JFK made the decision, after consultation with the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOMM), to set up a military blockade or quarantine around the island of Cuba. 


While this blockade would provide the US the opportunity to block further shipments of nuclear weapons to Cuba, it would also give the Soviets time to reconsider their position.


The decision to set up a quarantine of Cuba then, in our opinion, cannot be classified as one of brinksmanship.


The use of the term, in this case, gives the impression that JFK was backing Mr. Khrushchev into a corner with threats of nuclear attack rather than giving him time & space to resolve the crisis.


PLEASE CHECK BACK FOR MORE POSTS ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS





JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION VII

March 27, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION VII

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The sixth conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger asks Jacqueline Kennedy about what she remembers during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

She says:

“I could tell from his voice something was wrong. (He asked) ‘why don’t you just come back to Washington?’

(I) woke the children up from their naps & we got back there.  From then on, it seemed there was no waking or sleeping, & I just don’t know which day was which.

But….Jack….told me right away & some people had said for their wives to go away, but I said ‘Please don’t send me anywhere.  If anything happens, we’re all going to stay right here with you.'”

Mrs. Kennedy goes on to tell Schlesinger that she had told her husband even if there was no room for them in the bomb shelter she would ‘”just want to be on the (White House) lawn when it happens….”

Mr. Schlesinger asks “What was his mood when he told you?”

She responds:

“I can remember one night Jack was lying on his bed & I came in my nightgown.  I thought he was talking on the phone (but he waved me away)…because (McGeorge) Bundy was in the room.”*


McGeorge Bundy (far left), October 29, 1962, Photo by Cecil Stoughton, JFK Library Image

Schlesinger asks “Did the President comment….on the question of whether there should be a raid to knock the (nuclear missile) bases out or blockade or what?”

Mrs. Kennedy replies:

“He really wasn’t sort of asking me.  But then I remember he did tell me about this crazy telegram that came through from Khrushchev one night. Very warlike.  I remember Jack being really upset about that.”

Arthur Schlesinger asks if JFK showed fatigue from the ordeal.

Mrs. Kennedy answers yes but that she didn’t worry about that because he had driven himself all his life & that she knew her husband had the hidden reserve to get through it.

She says:

“And finally, when it was over….he thought of giving that calendar to everyone. I was so surprised when I got one….that I burst out crying.”**

*McGeorge Bundy was JFK’s National Security adviser.

**JFK presented a silver Tiffany calender for October 1962 with the fateful 13 days highlighted in bold to the members of EXCOMM. 

 Each calender was engraved with “JFK” & the recipient’s initials.


EXCOMM Meeting, The White House, October 29, 1962, Photo by Cecil Stoughton, JFK Library Image


              

           

                     





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