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View Full Version : OT Document Friday: The Cuban Missile Crisis Part Two. New Evidence on the Danger.


Natedogg
02-19-2010, 10:49 AM
Here's this week's post I wrote for my job at the National Security Archive. Its a rundown about the new evidence we have about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Some is pretty scary.

Here's a snippet; documents proving the assertions are available at the actual site.

http://nsarchive.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/document-friday-the-cuban-missile-crisis%E2%80%94-kennedys-letter-to-khrushchev/

But other recent evidence shows that the Cuban Missile Crisis was even more dangerous than Kennedy and Khrushchev perceived at the time:

* Despite detecting some nuclear weapons in Cuba, US intelligence was dangerously incorrect in other facets. In addition to mistakenly reporting the presence of Chinese troops on Cuba, Secretary of Defense McNamara reported to the President that there were 6,000 to 8,000 Soviet “technicians” on the island rather than the actual 43,000 armed combat troops. Some of these troops, we now know, were within fifteen miles of Guantanamo Bay and were armed with nuclear cruise missiles which could have obliterated the US base within minutes.
* Fidel Castro was ready to sacrifice his country to nuclear war to promote the socialist cause. In a 26 October 1962 letter to Khrushchev, he wrote that if the imperialist United States “manage[ed] to carry out an invasion of Cuba…then that would be the moment to eliminate this danger forever, in an act of the most legitimate self-defense [read: nuclear war].” Castro’s zeal likely contributed to Khrushchev’s decision to remove the nuclear weapons from Cuba.
* American U2 planes escalated the crisis. On 27 October 1962, Cuban and Soviet troops shot down an American U2 over Cuban airspace because they feared it could uncover the position of the Soviet nuclear cruise missiles near Guantanamo Bay; Maj. Rudolf Anderson was killed. That same day, a U2 piloted by Captain Charles Maultsby flew into Soviet airspace, ran out of fuel, and glided home to Alaska. Khrushchev asked Kennedy in his 28 October 1962 letter, “Is it not a fact that an intruding American plane could be easily taken for a nuclear bomber, which might push us to a fateful step?”
* And most shockingly, hours after the U2 plane was shot down over Cuba, the US Navy used grenade-sized depth charges to force a Soviet submarine armed with a nuclear torpedo to surface in the Caribbean. One sailor has controversially claimed that the captain of the sub became enraged, ordered the nuclear torpedo armed, and yelled, “We’re going to blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all.” Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. According to Robert Kennedy, when McNamara informed the President that depth charges had been used on Soviet submarines, “those few minutes were the time of greatest worry to the President. His hand went up to his face & covered his mouth and he closed his fist.”

http://nsarchive.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/document-friday-the-cuban-missile-crisis%E2%80%94-kennedys-letter-to-khrushchev/

Let me know what you think.

Archer81
02-19-2010, 11:01 AM
Dammit...I knew 13 days with Kevin Costner was too good to be true...


:Broncos:

Natedogg
02-19-2010, 11:02 AM
Dammit...I knew 13 days with Kevin Costner was too good to be true...


:Broncos:

Yeah, sorry to ruin it, but the whole climax part about the sov ships turning back at the lasts second before the blockade never happened. Funny how things get remembered.

colonelbeef
02-19-2010, 11:16 AM
Even if correct, none of these countries have been or are of any real threat to the sovereignty of the USA. Those days died when Nazi Germany decided to go after the USSR instead of holding tight with their European and African claims.

Natedogg
02-19-2010, 11:22 AM
The Soviets could have destroyed the USA with nuclear weapons (even by accident). The Nazis could not. Its doubtful the Nazis could have even crossed the Atlantic. They couldn't even cross the English Channel.

And I am almost completely certain that everything in my post is correct (check the links documenting my assertions). If you find anything specific I wrote that you don't think is true, let me know.

WolfpackGuy
02-19-2010, 12:26 PM
They should've rooted out Castro long before 1962.

The amazing thing is the old fart's still alive!

Archer81
02-19-2010, 01:36 PM
The Soviets could have destroyed the USA with nuclear weapons (even by accident). The Nazis could not. Its doubtful the Nazis could have even crossed the Atlantic. They couldn't even cross the English Channel.
And I am almost completely certain that everything in my post is correct (check the links documenting my assertions). If you find anything specific I wrote that you don't think is true, let me know.


That was in 1941. If the Nazis win in Europe and either conquer England or get them to surrender, the British navy ends up in Nazi hands, and with no one to oppose them from Gibraltar to Siberia, the construction of a blue water navy would have happened.

But this is the assumption Hitler would have wanted to conquer the Americas; it would have been doubtful he pushes for war in the Western hemisphere in his lifetime.

:Broncos:

loborugger
02-19-2010, 05:37 PM
Fidel Castro was ready to sacrifice his country to nuclear war to promote the socialist cause.

Yikes!

SoCalBronco
02-19-2010, 06:43 PM
Perhaps you should write an article on the second Cuban Missile Crisis as well.

Natedogg
02-20-2010, 12:21 AM
Perhaps you should write an article on the second Cuban Missile Crisis as well.

During the Carter administration?

uplink
02-20-2010, 12:31 AM
From TV documentaries:

The Nazis had a plan to attach the U.S. with long range bomber projects in the initial stages. Hitler wrote a follow up to 'mein kamp' where he focuses on eliminating the U.S.

Fidel was a pragmatist and Che was the reason for all the Cuban extremist actions such as housing Soviet bombs and wanting to use them, fighting in the Congo, Boliva, etc etc. When Che left for Boliva and then was killed, the Cuban problem was much milder.

These guys that display the Che images don't seem to realize this guy murdered a bunch of people (he ran the executions after Fidel seized power) and almost caused WWIII and would have loved it. He didn't value human life, just his idealism.

Archer81
02-20-2010, 12:41 AM
From TV documentaries:

The Nazis had a plan to attach the U.S. with long range bomber projects in the initial stages. Hitler wrote a follow up to 'mein kamp' where he focuses on eliminating the U.S.

Fidel was a pragmatist and Che was the reason for all the Cuban extremist actions such as housing Soviet bombs and wanting to use them, fighting in the Congo, Boliva, etc etc. When Che left for Boliva and then was killed, the Cuban problem was much milder.

These guys that display the Che images don't seem to realize this guy murdered a bunch of people (he ran the executions after Fidel seized power) and almost caused WWIII and would have loved it. He didn't value human life, just his idealism.


But but but...he rode a motorcycle through south america! and they made a flattering movie about him!

:Broncos:

SoCalBronco
02-20-2010, 12:47 AM
During the Carter administration?

No. Cienfuegos, 1970.

ZONA
02-20-2010, 01:36 AM
Talk about close calls, Hitler's "secret weapon" the Messerschmitt Me 262 Jet Fighter was almost ready for production in 1945. Had he had that Jet Fighter just a year earlier, we all could be talking German today. A Jet Fighter would have easily turned things in favor of Hitler's Army. But the BMW jet engine, and the other one, both were just not totally reliable at the time. But still, there are those "what if's". What if, America didn't join the war when it did. What if we waited a year or 2? You never know.

http://thefutureofthings.com/column/5887/jet-engine-development-in-germany.html

Killericon
02-20-2010, 01:53 AM
Yeah, in Fog of War McNamara talks about how later him and Castro met and talked about the missiles already there and Castro's willingness to use them.

mhgaffney
02-20-2010, 06:39 AM
The real story is that JFK stood up to the generals, eg. Curtis Lemay, all of whom pressured him to invade Cuba.

If JFK had not stood firm, if he had knuckled under to the Pentagon, none of us would be having this conversation.

JFK paid the ultimate price -- later -- when the CIA offed him.

Archer81
02-20-2010, 10:58 AM
The real story is that JFK stood up to the generals, eg. Curtis Lemay, all of whom pressured him to invade Cuba.

If JFK had not stood firm, if he had knuckled under to the Pentagon, none of us would be having this conversation.

JFK paid the ultimate price -- later -- when the CIA offed him.


Or if Kennedy had not pulled support for the Bay of Pigs at the last second, no missiles would have ever been sent to Cuba in the first place, and we never would have had a Cuban Missile Crisis...

And the CIA did not kill Kennedy.

:Broncos:

elsid13
02-20-2010, 11:13 AM
Yeah, in Fog of War McNamara talks about how later him and Castro met and talked about the missiles already there and Castro's willingness to use them.

Great movie, anyone interested in American History should watch it.

Cito Pelon
02-22-2010, 05:22 PM
Those were tough times in 1962. My uncle was SAC at Tyndall AFB and they were on total alert. There was absolutely no f'ing around at that time. The Caribbean was absolutely gonna be a US sphere of possession. The Monroe Doctrine was gonna be enforced, period. Naval and Air units were moved from all over as a massive military presence. Cuba was locked down. Kruschev could yell as loud as he wanted to but Cuba was locked down.

It was almost toe to toe, but NATO gave Kruschev some face by withdrawing missile batteries in Turkey from the Crimean front. That's a little known aspect of the Cuban Crisis. It was touch and go there for a little while. The story that Kennedy and Kruschev were eye to eye is not an exaggeration, they were eye to eye, and they were both thankful they didn't go toe to toe. Kruschev backed off at the last minute, and some say it's because of NATO withdrawing missile batteries in the Crimea.

Cito Pelon
02-22-2010, 05:37 PM
The Soviets could have destroyed the USA with nuclear weapons (even by accident). The Nazis could not. Its doubtful the Nazis could have even crossed the Atlantic. They couldn't even cross the English Channel.

And I am almost completely certain that everything in my post is correct (check the links documenting my assertions). If you find anything specific I wrote that you don't think is true, let me know.

It was only a ploy. Put yourself in the Soviet's position. They were surrounded by nuclear capable positions. Japan, Korea, China was their enemy, Iran, Turkey, France, NATO, all the way to the Arctic Circle. The USSR was surrounded.

uplink
02-23-2010, 07:51 PM
Its doubtful the Nazis could have even crossed the Atlantic. They couldn't even cross the English Channel.

They could have but couldn't gain air superiority. I don't think a battle has been won since the end of WWI without holding air superiority.

Natedogg
02-23-2010, 07:59 PM
It was only a ploy. Put yourself in the Soviet's position. They were surrounded by nuclear capable positions. Japan, Korea, China was their enemy, Iran, Turkey, France, NATO, all the way to the Arctic Circle. The USSR was surrounded.

I know (MA in Cold War history). But the fact is the Soviets had enough nukes to destroy the world. Only we and them (and now Russia) could do that.

Some people think that Mutually Assured Destruction was a great idea. Start reading up on Launch on Warning.

Natedogg
02-23-2010, 08:01 PM
Those were tough times in 1962. My uncle was SAC at Tyndall AFB and they were on total alert. There was absolutely no f'ing around at that time. The Caribbean was absolutely gonna be a US sphere of possession. The Monroe Doctrine was gonna be enforced, period. Naval and Air units were moved from all over as a massive military presence. Cuba was locked down. Kruschev could yell as loud as he wanted to but Cuba was locked down.

It was almost toe to toe, but NATO gave Kruschev some face by withdrawing missile batteries in Turkey from the Crimean front. That's a little known aspect of the Cuban Crisis. It was touch and go there for a little while. The story that Kennedy and Kruschev were eye to eye is not an exaggeration, they were eye to eye, and they were both thankful they didn't go toe to toe. Kruschev backed off at the last minute, and some say it's because of NATO withdrawing missile batteries in the Crimea.

Thats what my article is all about. RFK and the Soviet Amabassador Dobrynin made the deal. And btw, its Khrushchev :)

Killericon
02-23-2010, 08:01 PM
They could have but couldn't gain air superiority. I don't think a battle has been won since the end of WWI without holding air superiority.

*Cough* Vietnam, Russia/Afghanistan *Cough*

Natedogg
02-23-2010, 08:03 PM
They could have but couldn't gain air superiority. I don't think a battle has been won since the end of WWI without holding air superiority.

Or Naval. The WW2 historical consensus is that the British navy would not have lets the Krauts through.

Archer81
02-23-2010, 08:27 PM
*Cough* Vietnam, Russia/Afghanistan *Cough*


The Vietcong never won a single major offensive until the US withdrew in 1975.


:Broncos:

Killericon
02-23-2010, 08:45 PM
The Vietcong never won a single major offensive until the US withdrew in 1975.


:Broncos:

Fair enough, but it's not as if Afghanistan was taking down a lot of MiGs or anything.

Natedogg
02-23-2010, 08:52 PM
The Vietcong never won a single major offensive until the US withdrew in 1975.


:Broncos:

Whooped our ass at khe Sanh.

And since we were the invading country the "burden of victory" was on us. Our strategic goal was maintaining a democratic, pro US govt in S. Vietnam. We didn't achieve our strategic goal. The Vietcong did achieve theirs.

Archer81
02-23-2010, 08:53 PM
Fair enough, but it's not as if Afghanistan was taking down a lot of MiGs or anything.


Migs were not as effective as the soviet helicopters. That's one of the reasons we sent the afghanis a ton of stinger missiles.


:Broncos:

Archer81
02-23-2010, 08:54 PM
Whooped our ass at khe Sanh.

And since we were the invading country the "burden of victory" was on us. Our strategic goal was maintaining a democratic, pro US govt in S. Vietnam. We didn't achieve our strategic goal. The Vietcong did achieve theirs.


I was not disputing that. Then again, never crossing into North Vietnam did not help things.


:Broncos:

Natedogg
02-23-2010, 08:55 PM
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SoCalBronco
02-23-2010, 11:49 PM
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Yeah...they considered threatening the North with everything in attempt to win concessions. Nothing wrong with that. Despite what they discussed, they never really considered it a viable option for obvious humanitarian as well as electoral reasons. It was a covert and sometimes overt threat that was put out there more than once to scare the North.

In fact, they sent signals of this as early as 1969 as part of the "Madman Theory". During the first year of the administration, some nuclear equipped B-52s in the Pacific were put on "alert" in such a way as to make sure that Soviet intelligence would pick it up (and presumably they would relay that intelligence to Hanoi). He thought that the Soviets and the North Vietnamese would have closely studied his hawkish past and most notably statements he made in 1954 in particular about the use of nuclear weapons...and be prodded to the negotiating table out of fear that he would be unreasonably harsh and/or irrational (hence the name of the theory). The theory was also based on experiences he witnessed re: Eisenhower making implied threats re: Korea many years earlier. Unfortunately, the "Madman Theory" did not really work.

BTW, I am looking forward to seeing you write an article on the Cienfuegos situation of 1970. Now that was a great example of diffusing a potential Cuban missile crisis quietly and effectively, without histrionics or attention whoring.

Cito Pelon
02-24-2010, 02:16 AM
Thats what my article is all about. RFK and the Soviet Amabassador Dobrynin made the deal. And btw, its Khrushchev :)

Well, then it must have been a good article. Sorry, but I didn't read your article, not because I doubt you or I'm not interested, but because I don't click on links too much. Obviously, you know your history. Dobrynin was a slick operator, very capable and clever. He was on TV news shows galore back in the day, seemed like he never slept.

Cito Pelon
02-24-2010, 03:11 AM
Yeah...they considered threatening the North with everything in attempt to win concessions. Nothing wrong with that. Despite what they discussed, they never really considered it a viable option for obvious humanitarian as well as electoral reasons. It was a covert and sometimes overt threat that was put out there more than once to scare the North.

In fact, they sent signals of this as early as 1969 as part of the "Madman Theory". During the first year of the administration, some nuclear equipped B-52s in the Pacific were put on "alert" in such a way as to make sure that Soviet intelligence would pick it up (and presumably they would relay that intelligence to Hanoi). He thought that the Soviets and the North Vietnamese would have closely studied his hawkish past and most notably statements he made in 1954 in particular about the use of nuclear weapons...and be prodded to the negotiating table out of fear that he would be unreasonably harsh and/or irrational (hence the name of the theory). The theory was also based on experiences he witnessed re: Eisenhower making implied threats re: Korea many years earlier. Unfortunately, the "Madman Theory" did not really work.

BTW, I am looking forward to seeing you write an article on the Cienfuegos situation of 1970. Now that was a great example of diffusing a potential Cuban missile crisis quietly and effectively, without histrionics or attention whoring.

I think it was difficult to get accurate intelligence about how the Soviets would react to the Peace Offensive I think it was called at the time.

Nixon and his advisers did a decent job maneuvering to get out of the various crises at that time. And there were crises galore. Having to deal with foreign crises as well as a ton of domestic crises as well. There was a lot of social change going on here at home. And the Soviets were taking advantage of having the US military tied up in Asia by instigating crises in the Non-aligned (Fidel Castro's word) nations.

Those were crazy days, the British were weak and not of much help, the Kim Philby affair in 1963 made British Intelligence a liability rather than a help, France had withdrawn from NATO in 1966 and that was a major blow to Western unity at the time. The Soviets were encouraged by a seeming lack of Western unity and weakness.

You weren't alive back in the 60's, but we used to have nuclear drills at school. There would be an announcement over the PA system from the principal, "The nation is under attack, take your protective positions" , or some such thing. Those protective positions being get under your desk and lock your hands behind your head. We didn't have just fire drills, we had nuclear drills. Crazy times.

Henry Kissinger's memoirs are very interesting to read.

Natedogg
02-24-2010, 05:40 AM
Yeah...they considered threatening the North with everything in attempt to win concessions. Nothing wrong with that. Despite what they discussed, they never really considered it a viable option for obvious humanitarian as well as electoral reasons. It was a covert and sometimes overt threat that was put out there more than once to scare the North.

In fact, they sent signals of this as early as 1969 as part of the "Madman Theory". During the first year of the administration, some nuclear equipped B-52s in the Pacific were put on "alert" in such a way as to make sure that Soviet intelligence would pick it up (and presumably they would relay that intelligence to Hanoi). He thought that the Soviets and the North Vietnamese would have closely studied his hawkish past and most notably statements he made in 1954 in particular about the use of nuclear weapons...and be prodded to the negotiating table out of fear that he would be unreasonably harsh and/or irrational (hence the name of the theory). The theory was also based on experiences he witnessed re: Eisenhower making implied threats re: Korea many years earlier. Unfortunately, the "Madman Theory" did not really work.

BTW, I am looking forward to seeing you write an article on the Cienfuegos situation of 1970. Now that was a great example of diffusing a potential Cuban missile crisis quietly and effectively, without histrionics or attention whoring.

Def agree with everything you wrote. And I'm looking into Cienfuegos. Thanks for the heads up.

uplink
03-02-2010, 10:31 PM
The Vietcong never won a single major offensive until the US withdrew in 1975.
:Broncos:

They only won battles in the media and in world opinion by playing the victim. Not to say that wasn't a good and planned out stragedy. Still no conventional battle won without air superiority.