Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cuban missile crisis revisited

I finished the revisionist history book on the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and was persuaded that Kennedy administration officials, including Bobby Kennedy and Ted Sorensen deliberately misled the American people on what happened.  There was no "Trollope ploy." The president actually overrode the unanimous views of his advisers when he decided to accept the Soviet offer to remove U.S. nuclear-armed Jupiter missiles from Turkey and Italy in exchange for withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. And despite years of denials, the United States did promise not to invade Castro's Cuba.

Les Gelb also has a good piece on the lessons of the crisis. There was a diplomatic bargain, deliberately kept secret but real nonetheless. This was not a case of Soviet surrender to American threats. I hope would-be commanders-in-chief would learn that lesson -- and also learn how close we came, through accidents and misjudgments to a nuclear exchange that likely would have led to a civilization-destroying nuclear war.

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