More on Cuba | General’s 1962 Memo Reveals Willingness to Pull Trigger

The US was willing to go to the mat, but Kennedy wisely pushed back:

American military officials advocating an invasion to topple Fidel Castro only suspected it at the time, but Soviet forces in Cuba had nearly 100 smaller tactical nuclear weapons as well, a fact that came to light only three decades later.

“We must accept the possibility that the enemy may use nuclear weapons to repel invasion,” General Taylor wrote. “However, if the Cuban leaders took this foolhardy step, we could respond at once in overwhelming nuclear force against military targets.”

via General’s 1962 Memo Addresses Nuclear Combat on Cuba – NYTimes.com.

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7 thoughts on “More on Cuba | General’s 1962 Memo Reveals Willingness to Pull Trigger

  1. Ankit Lohani says:

    Let us not forget that the Soviet decision to send nuclear warheads to Cuba was in retaliation to NATO positioning nuclear missiles in Turkey in 1958.

    The Soviet support of Cuba in the Cuban missile crisis can be compared to the current US support of South Korea. Cuba was politically inclined to the Soviets just like South Korea is to United States. The political ramification of North trying to invade South Korea is bound to have a retaliatory response from the United States. If the United States does nothing, then it questions the support of United States to countries which uphold its political ideals, furthermore it gives full control of the Asia-Pacific to China and Russia.

    Now imagine, if the South comes under a direct threat of invasion from the (Russia and China backed) communist North. What will US do ? The US has already done what it needs to. There already are 28,500 US Army personnel stationed in the South after the Korean war, sending a signal that the ramification of an attack would be ominous.

    Soviets were in a similar situation during the Cuban crisis. They had to support Cuba because it was one of its political allies and it upheld Communism. However, the decision to move nuclear warheads to Cuba was a totally incumbent decision. But the decision of NATO to put nuclear missiles in Turkey in 1958 was also very foolish and offensive.

    According to Sheldon Stern, former historian at the John F Kennedy Presidential Library,

    “Khrushchev’s original explanation for shipping missiles to Cuba had been fundamentally true: the Soviet leader had never intended these weapons as a threat to the security of the United States, but rather considered their deployment a defensive move to protect his Cuban allies from American attacks and as a desperate effort to give the USSR the appearance of equality in the nuclear balance of power.” Stern writes:

    “The missiles would be removed if the US promised not to invade Cuba.”

    The next day, at 10am, the president again turned on the secret tape. He read aloud a wire service report that had just been handed to him:

    “Premier Khrushchev told President Kennedy in a message today he would withdraw offensive weapons from Cuba if the United States withdrew its rockets from Turkey.”

    Therefore, the Cuban crisis ended when the US promised to remove the NATO nuclear missiles from Turkey.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/15/cuban-missile-crisis-russian-roulette
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba%E2%80%93Soviet_Union_relations

  2. SS Mughal says:

    I think it’s admirable that President Kennedy made his decisions slowly and decisively during the Cuban Missile Crisis as opposed to making fast, irrational choices. At the same time, it’s good that U.S. officials stayed on their toes and were prepared to act with force if needed. I think more U.S. leaders need to be ready to use force when we face threats from powerful countries. Even the fear of retaliation can keep countries as well as terrorists at bay and deter them from carrying out attacks. Having leaders that understand how to forge good relationships with leaders and not compromise our image abroad greatly benefits our country.

    Here’s an archive with many interesting articles dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/cuba_mis_cri/

  3. Ankit Lohani says:

    Let us not forget that the Soviet decision to send nuclear warheads to Cuba was in retaliation to NATO positioning nuclear missiles in Turkey in 1958.

    The Soviet support of Cuba in the Cuban missile crisis can be compared to the current US support of South Korea. Cuba was politically inclined to the Soviets just like South Korea is to United States. The political ramification of North trying to invade South Korea is bound to have a retaliatory response from the United States. If the United States does nothing, then it questions the support of United States to countries which uphold its political ideals, furthermore it gives full control of the Asia-Pacific to China and Russia.

    Now imagine, if the South comes under a direct threat of invasion from the (Russia and China backed) communist North. What will US do ? The US has already done what it needs to. There already are 28,500 US Army personnel stationed in the South after the Korean war, sending a signal that the ramification of an attack would be ominous.

    Soviets were in a similar situation during the Cuban crisis. They had to support Cuba because it was one of its political allies and it upheld Communism. However, the decision to move nuclear warheads to Cuba was a totally incumbent decision. But the decision of NATO to put nuclear missiles in Turkey in 1958 was also very foolish and offensive.

    According to Sheldon Stern, former historian at the John F Kennedy Presidential Library,

    “Khrushchev’s original explanation for shipping missiles to Cuba had been fundamentally true: the Soviet leader had never intended these weapons as a threat to the security of the United States, but rather considered their deployment a defensive move to protect his Cuban allies from American attacks and as a desperate effort to give the USSR the appearance of equality in the nuclear balance of power.” Stern writes:

    “The missiles would be removed if the US promised not to invade Cuba.”

    The next day, at 10am, the president again turned on the secret tape. He read aloud a wire service report that had just been handed to him:

    “Premier Khrushchev told President Kennedy in a message today he would withdraw offensive weapons from Cuba if the United States withdrew its rockets from Turkey.”

    Therefore, the Cuban crisis ended when the US promised to remove the NATO nuclear missiles from Turkey.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/15/cuban-missile-crisis-russian-roulette
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba%E2%80%93Soviet_Union_relations

  4. mitchmender says:

    We can only imagine the kid of feelings that the government must have had during the Cuban missile crisis knowing that one wrong move could cause thousands upon thousands of deaths. I think this article goes to show the importance of diplomacy on an international scale and not just bilaterally. Tomorrows class will be an interesting experience as we have a chance to play out this difficult situation. Even though president Kennedy was portrayed as a immovable negotiator during the crisis and it is slowly coming into light that he might have given in more than we thought he still did his job as commander in chief very notably and he should be respected for that. because that is what being a leader and an ambassador is all about in the end doing what is right for those you represent.

    In an address shortly after the crisis, “President Kennedy told Americans in June 1963, “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
    This is an important perspective that fuels our need for diplomacy and peace.

    http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/Cuban-Missile-Crisis.aspx

  5. I thought it interesting that during the debate Mr. Romney said that “making Iranian diplomats pariahs all over the world” would be an important step towards peacefully resolving the Iranian nuclear issue. Clearly, the successful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which required last minute diplomatic negotiations, shows that working towards a peaceful resolution requires interaction between quarreling countries. I find it disturbing that the potential next President of the United States doesn’t seem to understand this.

    Here’s an article from the daily beast about the Iranian problem and the most recent debate:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/23/what-they-didn-t-tell-you-about-iran.html

  6. marianorfila says:

    Long after the world thought the Cuban Missile Crisis had ended, Unknown to the Americans, the Soviets had brought some 100 tactical nuclear weapons to Cuba. Even with the pullout of the strategic missiles, the tactical would stay, and Soviet documentation reveals the intention of training the Cubans to use them. (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/10/10/cuba_almost_became_a_nuclear_power_in_1962) Many take for granted what happened in Cuba, simply because it did not caused any huge problems, however, the dimensions of the situation were a lot bigger than we all expected. Cubans did not want the missiles, they only accepted the weapons as part of “fulfilling their duty to the socialist camp.” The Cubans were ready to die in a nuclear war and were hoping that the Soviet Union would be also willing “to do the same for us.”

  7. What impressed me the most was the cool calculating position Kennedy was able to maintain in midst of this national crisis. Even with the pressure that he was receive from the brass he was able to hold through and make a well thought out decision. It was not one out of passion nor emotion.
    At Oxford, a study was competed on the “Art of Leadership”. It discusses the traits required for one to show leadership capabilities. It is surprising to see that most of these trait can be learned and acquired over time. Will this article is long I would recommend reading over it. This document will especially help with the elections happening right now. It will be interesting to analyze each Presidential candidates’ characteristics and compare and contrast them with the characteristics listed in this article. http://fds.oup.com/www.oup.co.uk/pdf/0-19-829445-X.pdf

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