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Maybe Cuba Should Have Kept Those Soviet Nukes
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The Nuclear Security Summit in Washington is reminds us that President Obama won his Nobel Peace Prize in large part because of his stated intentions concerning nuclear non-proliferation.

The two most recent achievements in US counterproliferation (Libya) and non-proliferation (Iran) have been tarnished by the destruction of Libya as a counter-proliferation example for North Korea by the deposition and murder of a WMD-bereft Muammar Qaddafi; the US inability to follow through on President Obama’s ambitions to bring Israel into the NPT fold as a self-acknowledged nuclear weapons power; and by US acquiescence to brutal Saudi Arabia-led rollback operations against Shia forces in Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain as compensation for US-Iran rapprochement.

In contrast to most sane Americans, I am not an enthusiast for the NPT-enforced oligopoly of a few nuclear states. I think it distorts foreign policy, particularly American foreign policy, which is keyed to the idea of leveraging the US “nuclear umbrella” to establish the United States as the indispensable security power everywhere and anywhere.

In Asia and the Middle East, beyond a continual need to validate its credentials as the biggest bully on the block, the US is trapped into reacting and overreacting to inhibit adversaries and allies alike from doing the obvious: acquiring a nice, neat, powerful, and not-too-expensive nuclear deterrent as an alternative to US dominance of their security regimes.

The United States commentariat is publicly appalled at Trump’s casual comments about South Korea and Japan going nuclear. Me, not so much. I think everybody would behave better if their neighbors had nukes. And the United States would not have so big an incentive to militarize and escalate local frictions to create a plausible role for Uncle Sam and his magic nuclear umbrella.

In other words, in a world in which the US continually maintains and improves its nuclear arsenal while inhibiting the emergence of counterbalancing deterrence—and at the same time refusing to renounce nuclear first strike—maybe the big nuclear danger is trying to keep the nukes out instead of letting the nukes in.

Recall the immortal Casey Stengel debunking the canard that sex before a game was bad for ballplayers:

Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player. It’s staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in.

So, what’s more destabilizing? Proliferation, or US-led anti-proliferation? Discuss!

The one nuclear proliferation crisis everybody likes to cite to illustrate the benefits of anti-proliferation is Cuba 1962, when America’s Best and Brightest under Jack Kennedy stared down Nikita Khrushchev and his attempt to position strategic nuclear weapons in Cuba.

Let’s look at it another way: as the time the Soviet Union tried to beat (or at least match) the US at its own global nuclear hegemon strategy and failed miserably (fundamental contradictions need a good deal of experience, skill, strength, and luck to keep papered over, none of which Khrushchev had); a cautionary tale that allies and proxies don’t rate quite the same nuclear umbrella as the hegemon’s homeland (Japan and South Korea take note); and anti-proliferation is expensive, difficult, dangerous, and involves plenty of knock-on consequences (North Korea, of course).


Revisionist history a.k.a. facts have as usual removed some of the good v. evil gloss slathered on the US by Kennedy hagiographers to reveal the political calculations underlying the confrontation.

It has emerged that Khrushchev was waaaaaaaay on the wrong end of the notorious missile gap, contrary to Kennedy’s claims during the 1960 election, with major shortfalls in operational ICBMs and no strategic submarine capabilities and, indeed, with only 300 strategic nuclear devices overall compared to 1500 for the US. Soviet strategists were appalled by the introduction of US Jupiter nuclear-tipped missiles into Turkey and Italy and justifiably anxious about the prospect of a pre-emptive US strike.

Kennedy understood that standing up to the Soviets over Cuba–antiproliferating–was more a matter of US (and his) credibility and a reflection of US determination over Berlin than an issue of US national security. From the beginning of the crisis, his advisors are unambiguous in their analysis that the missiles in Cuba, when operational, would not effect the strategic balance.

Missiles in Cuba were intended by Khrushchev as a) a stabilizing strategic riposte to the US missiles in Italy and Turkey and b) a neat way to succor Cuba and bind it into a Soviet alliance by deterring a widely expected US “regime change” style invasion.

Recently, the tape recordings of the Oval Office discussions during the crisis were declassified and, according to Benjamin Schwartz in The Atlantic, yielded this priceless nugget:

On the first day of the crisis, October 16, when pondering Khrushchev’s motives for sending the missiles to Cuba, Kennedy made what must be one of the most staggeringly absentminded (or sarcastic) observations in the annals of American national-security policy: “Why does he put these in there, though? … It’s just as if we suddenly began to put a major number of MRBMs [medium-range ballistic missiles] in Turkey. Now that’d be goddamned dangerous, I would think.” McGeorge Bundy, the national security adviser, immediately pointed out: “Well we did it, Mr. President.”

As for regime change, Soviet expectations were spot on; after the Bay of Pigs debacle the Pentagon was busy with Operation Mongoose planning for Castro’s overthrow. Declassified documents reveal that the US would, as usual, take the high ground by invading only in response to a Cuban outrage, albeit one manufactured by the CIA. One scenario, thanks to an anonymous writer with a strong historical understanding of what had worked in US-Cuban relations:

A “Remember the Maine” incident could be arranged in several forms:

1. We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba.

The most interesting element of denuclearizing Cuba is that the United States didn’t think that the Soviet Union had any operational nuclear weapons capability in Cuba when it decided to go public and issue the ultimatum to Khrushchev.

In a piece I wrote about dead horses in Soviet Ukraine (one of my favorite pieces about a pivotal event in Ukrainian history—must read!) I remarked in passing on the assertion by Victor Marchetti, a CIA whistleblower perhaps little remembered today, but a big deal in the last century:

Marchetti, by the way, claims to have been intimately involved in the intelligence aspects of the Cuban crisis. He alleges that President Kennedy was well aware that the missiles in Cuba were still lacking their warheads and therefore posed no threat to the United States. Nevertheless, Kennedy and his hagiographers, perhaps in order to provide America’s youth with sufficient pretext for a frantic pre-apocalypse f*ckfest, have skated over this aspect of the crisis.

According to Marchetti:

[We didn’t] come as close to war as many think, because Khruschev knew he was caught. His missiles weren’t armed, and he hadn’t the troops to protect them. Kennedy knew this, so he was able to say: “take them out.” And Khruschev had to say yes.

Ah, history. Or, as we say, “Whaddya know?”

Well, at the time Marchetti wrote that in 2001, the USSR had met its demise, rehashing the Cuban Missile Crisis had become a cottage industry and occasion for mutual backpatting by Russian and US national security types who had saved the world, at least certain paleskinned bits of the Northern Hemisphere, from destruction…

…and it was pretty categorically stated that Cuba was loaded to the gunwales with nuclear weapons in October 1962, when the crisis started…

…and Marchetti was defending his initial, less alarmist assessments and dismissing the subsequent revelations as nefarious tag-team U.S.-Russian Federation disinfo…

…so post-1989 revelations do have to be parsed carefully since the Cuban missile crisis is apparently still a useful text for geopolitical jockeying between Russia and the United States…

…but emerging documents and memoirs pretty convincingly support the latter assessments.

162 gadgets is the number bandied about, a mixture of strategic warheads for the medium and intermediate range missiles targeting the US, and 92 tactical nuclear devices, especially cruise and short range missiles but also including a pair of nuclear mines.

And as for Khrushchev “not having the troops”, there were allegedly forty thousand Soviet troops in Cuba, not the few thousand estimated by Marchetti and the CIA, infiltrated together with shiploads of military equipment under the noses of the CIA and including infantry, anti-aircraft, and other defensive units to protect the core strategic nuclear force.

Soviet forces were commanded by officers whose concept of operational routine was the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany, had control over those tactical nuclear weapons, and had authority to use them if the U.S. invaded and communications with Moscow were severed. Plenty of material, in other words, to turn Cuba into a major battlefield, starting with the U.S. base at Guantanamo as a focus of Soviet attentions.

Here’s a photo of the general in charge of Soviet forces in Cuba, Issa Pliyev, wearing the “volunteer” civilian garb he detested, standing with Castro, who is wearing the rarely-seen clunky glasses that, apparently, he detested)…

…and here’s General Pliyev in his full military fig as veteran of Stalingrad, two time Hero of the Soviet Union, seven time Order of Lenin, Hero of the Mongolian People’s Republic, Member, French Legion of Honor, etc. etc.

However, Marchetti is, in terms of American perceptions at the time, correct and, in terms of Soviet strategic capabilities, apparently operationally on point.

According to the record, even after a U2 flight yielded unambiguous photographic evidence that, indeed, the Soviets had established intermediate and medium-range missile launch facilities in Cuba (built under a crash program involving the labor of hundreds of thousands of Cubans), the CIA didn’t know for sure that the warheads had arrived in Cuba.

Indeed, the photos reveal something that looks more like construction sites than comfy bases of mass destruction (the Soviets apparently cloned their homeland missile facilities in Cuba, making photo analysis of the nature and progress of the projects a bit easier), supporting the inference that the warheads were not yet on site and integrated with the missiles. The CIA conclusion appears to have been that the warheads weren’t there and if they were, they were off in some warehouse somewhere and the missiles were unarmed. It turns out the CIA was if not completely right, it was not completely wrong; the warheads for the strategic missiles, it transpires, were in Cuba but had not been deployed to the launchers yet.

Another indication that the strategic missiles were not operational in October 1962 is that Khrushchev was not yet prepared to formally announce their existence.

Apparently, Khrushchev planned to announce the existence of the missiles during a visit to the United States in November 1962, bringing to mind this exchange from Kubrick’s 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove:

Dr. Strangelove: Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost, if you keep it a secret! Why didn’t you tell the world, EH?

—Ambassador de Sadesky: It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, the Premier loves surprises.

As for the tactical nuclear weapons, McNamara states that his knees wobbled when he was told about them at a thirtieth anniversary get-together in 1992 between the US, Russia, and Cuba. However, this was apparently not the first he had heard of them.

According to the Kennedy tapes, by October 29, 1962 it was known thanks to low altitude surveillance that there were nuclear capable Soviet tactical missiles on Cuba, and US military commanders were asking for permission to use tactical nuclear weapons in the planned invasion: McNamara himself refused. I’m guessing McNamara chose to assume (erroneously) the missiles were not nuclear tipped and this was the version presented to Kennedy.

Therefore, President Kennedy had the certain luxury of gaming his Cuba scenarios on the assumption that the confrontation would play out within the context of a potential direct nuclear exchange between the US and Russian homelands, and that the risk of losing the aspirational but as-yet non-operational Soviet installations in Cuba would perhaps not justify nuclear Armageddon in Khrushchev’s eyes.

The consensus opinion in Washington in October 1962—buttressed by the reports cited by Marchetti that the warheads had probably not arrived and there weren’t a lot of Soviet troops on the island–was to launch massive airstrikes followed by invasion to take out the missiles (and also, though it’s not much discussed in the official hagiography, deal with that pesky Castro problem once and for all in a geostrategic twofer). However, according to McNamara, Kennedy was swayed to go for the quarantine + ultimatum with airstrikes + invasion to follow option instead by the general in charge of U.S. Tactical Air Command, who cautioned that maybe a nuclear-armed missile might survive the massive U.S. strike to hit the United States.

In other words, the group opinion was 99% sure everything would go great, but Kennedy wanted 100%.

If the group opinion had prevailed and the US had invaded Cuba and been surprised by 40,000 nuclear-armed Soviet troops, things would have gone south in a hurry (together with McNamara’s knees and career). Which is why expert opinion has started to tilt away from “masterful statesmanship” toward the “lucky accident” interpretation of the crisis.

As it transpired, the most immediate nuclear risk during the crisis didn’t even involve the weapons on Cuba. It was created by the US Navy enthusiastically depth charging a Soviet sub nearing Cuba that was armed with a nuclear torpedo. Unaware that the USN was dropping undercharged “we want you to surface and identify yourself” ashcans and not “we want to sink you” depth bombs and worried that his vessel was about to be destroyed, the Soviet captain decided to dish out his 10-kiloton nuclear torpedo and go down in a blaze of glory. Fortunately, the launch was vetoed by his flotilla commander, who happened to be on the boat. The sub, happily, survived, as did significant swaths of the Soviet Union and US.

Khrushchev eventually obliged Kennedy, climbing down in a nice superpower-to-superpower way, receiving in return a pledge that the United States would not invade Cuba (a pledge honored somewhat in the breach) and a sub voce US undertaking to remove soon-to-be-obsolete Jupiter missiles from Turkey and maybe Italy (which were subsequently replaced by invulnerable sub-based Polaris missiles).

And that, of course, did not oblige Fidel Castro, who regards Khrushchev as an ass and a wimp.

An ass, because instead of declaring to Kennedy that the missiles were a deterrent and an sovereign Soviet security interest covered by the USSR’s nuclear force when a U2 flight detected initial signs of missile facility construction in August 1962, Khrushchev fudged and called them defensive (with the apparent mental reservation that “defensive” meant “offensive weapons that defend Cuba by virtue of their deterrent function”). This put the Soviet foreign policy establishment on the wrong foot in vigorously and credibly defending the initiative when it turned out in October that there were four dozen strategic missiles in the package capable of reaching most of the continental United States.

And wimp, because Khrushchev backed down in October 1962 and threw Cuba under the bus. Cuba under Castro had irrevocably burned its bridges to the United States by hosting the missiles, and was ready to do that socialist shoulder-to-shoulder thing and risk US annihilation in an attack if the USSR was ready to take out the United States in retaliation. But not to be. Khrushchev caved to the US and removed all the nukes, not just the strategic weapons he had promised Kennedy to remove, but also the tactical nuclear weapons he had promised Castro in the initial agreement would eventually be delivered to Cuban control—and Washington didn’t even know about.*

So instead of getting a powerful, nuke-based alliance with the USSR that would give Castro bargaining leverage against US security and economic coercion—and maybe diplomatic recognition, who knows? The US had extended the courtesy to a number of Soviet proxies with considerably less national legitimacy than Cuba– Cuba was left as a lonely piñata twisting in the wind while the US took whacks at it for over 50 years. President Obama marked the continuation, rather than conclusion, of the effort by going to Cuba for a triumphal visit that was interpreted, especially in the United States, as receiving the Castros’ surrender to the forces of US democracy and capitalism, notwithstanding Raul Castro’s effort to literally spin Obama’s flaccid wrist into a display of transnational popular solidarity.

Here’s how those socialist photops are supposed to look, by the way.

For the Soviet Union, a dismal botch that helped cost Khrushchev his job and, coming on the heels of the China debacle, pretty much put paid to Soviet overseas nuclear junketeering.

While the Soviet Union was out of the proliferation game, the US went all in on nukes as a geostrategic asset, not only maintaining its nuclear edge through technological improvements and integrating nuclear weapons into its security architecture in Asia as well as Europe, but also by antiproliferating, by seeking to deny new aspirants, allies as well as adversaries, entry to the club through suasion, sanctions, and even war.

In an interesting way, the US is now somewhat recapitulating the Soviet endgame in Cuba, with elements in Japan and the Republic of Korea becoming more vocal about their desire to control their own nuclear destinies rather than rely on the United States, thereby challenging the US nuclear weapons monopoly and the Asian security architecture which it underpins.

The forces advocating for nuclear proliferation are many; the US, while not standing alone as an anti-proliferater, is perhaps alone in its depth of conviction, interest, and determination. This creates challenges for President Obama as he tries to universalize the internationalized NPT legal regime and wean the United States from unilateral anti-proliferation and its occasional resort to violations of sovereignty to achieve its objectives.**

What about Cuba? What would have happened if the USSR, instead of putting its own nukes on Cuba, had just given Cuba some nukes? Or, in a strikingly plausible scenario, let Castro keep the tactical nukes after the Soviets withdrew? How would US relations with Cuba and the rest of Latin America evolved?

Looking at the cavalcade of instability in places like Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Honduras, and Guatemala engendered by the successful US rollback of socialism after Khrushchev bugged out, Latin America would certainly have been different if Cuba had nukes…and maybe not worse off.

But that’s a possibility the US, for obvious reasons, has no interest in exploring.

*The report that Khrushchev had decided to let Castro keep the nukes post-crisis, but his envoy, Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan,evaluated that Castro (admittedly at that time 32 years old, emotionally vigorous, and under tremendous stress) was too headstrong & irrational, & decided on his own initiative to negotiate their withdrawal is, by the way, false. Mikoyan determined that Khrushchev’s serial mismanagement of the crisis had alienated Castro to the degree that effective co-management of the weapons was impossible. Castro, in desperation, was prepared to inform the world through the UN that, despite the Soviet withdrawal, Cuba still had the nukes and an effective deterrent against US invasion. The decision to notify Castro the weapons were being pulled from Cuba was made in consultation with the Soviet Party Presidium.

**There was no basis under international law for the unilateral US blockade of Cuba in 1962. The legal recourse for the US would have been to obtain a 2/3 vote from the Organization of American States authorizing a blockade against a member state, something that the US wasn’t willing to wait for. The legal end-around was to call it a “quarantine”.

(Republished from China Matters by permission of author or representative)
• Category: History • Tags: Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Nuclear Weapons 
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  1. Rehmat says:

    “The Nuclear Security Summit in Washington is reminds us that President Obama won his Nobel Peace Prize in large part because of his stated intentions concerning nuclear non-proliferation.”

    But, but ……. Peter Lee, Obama won his ‘Peace Medal’ within seven months of his presidency for shielding Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

    The Nuclear Security Summit is a JOKE created by the world nuclear powers that has misused the NPT the most.

    Like the previous 3rd Summit, the targets were Pakistan, N. Korea and the non-existential Iranian nuclear research.

    On January 14, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued its latest report, entitled Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons, warning the world how dangerous it’s for a Muslim country to have 110-130 nuclear bombs. The report was prepared by two CRS Jewish ” NPT experts”, Paul K. Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin. Their 2014 report on Iran-N. Korea-Syria Ballistic Missile and Nuclear Cooperation was published at Daily Alert, a propaganda out of Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

    “Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is widely regarded as designed to dissuade India from taking military action against Pakistan. But Islamabad’s expansion of its nuclear arsenal, development of new types of nuclear weapons, and adoption of a doctrine called “full spectrum deterrence” have led some observers to express concern about an increased risk of nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India which also continues to expand its nuclear arsenal,” says the report.

    “Pakistan has in recent years taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in security of its nuclear arsenal. However, instability in Pakistan has called the extent and durability of these reforms into question. Some observers fear radical takeover of the Pakistan government or diversion of material or technology by personnel within Pakistan’s nuclear complex,” the report added.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  2. That supposed picture of General Pliyev with Castro – I don’t know, the guy on the left in the suit looks an awful lot like Anastas Mikoyan…

  3. @Fletcher the Dog

    Anastas Ivanovich Mikolyan — that also was my first impression.
    The single medal of gold star of the Hero of Socialist Labor has much more pronounced volume character, as seen on the photograph, in comparison with rather flat military star of the Hero of Soviet Union, owned by Pliev.
    From :

    In early November 1962, at the height of Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet leadership dispatched Mikoyan to Havana to help persuade Castro to cooperate in the removal of the nuclear missiles and bombers the Soviet Union had placed on the island.[39][40] Just prior to beginning negotiations with Castro, Mikoyan was informed about the death of his wife, Ashkhen, in Moscow; rather than return there for the funeral, Mikoyan opted to stay and sent his son Sergo there instead.

  4. @Fletcher the Dog

    The saying (joke) about Anastas Mikoyan
    (whose last name I typed with a typo in my previous comment) was
    От Ильича до Ильича — без инфаркта и паралича.
    Lengthy translation of the phrase, explaining his long political life, more than 40 years:

    Starting from Vladimir Il’ich Lenin (died in 1924)
    and ending with Leonid Il’ich Brezhnev (came to power in 1964),
    Mikoyan was active and suffered neither heart attack, nor paralysis.

    Play of words: both Lenin and Brezhnev had the same patronymic:
    Il’ich , which sometimes was used to affectionately denote Lenin.

  5. woodNfish says:

    Looking at the cavalcade of instability in places like Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Honduras, and Guatemala engendered by the successful US rollback of socialism after Khrushchev bugged out, Latin America would certainly have been different if Cuba had nukes…and maybe not worse off.

    Oh yeah Peter Lee (author), Latin America would possibly be so much better off. Venezuela is a great example of how much better off a country is under communism. How ignorant can you be?

  6. mtn cur says:

    I grew up in an air force R & D center during the cold war. Despite opinions lauding the superiority of northern Europeans of good Aryan type compared to sub-Saharan Africans, a comparison of MIRVed nukes with sharpened sticks indicates a fugue of complex stupidity which most hunter-gatherers would consign to the refuse midden. Being smarter than road kill possums is no proof of useful intelligence.

  7. tbraton says:

    The memory lapse by JFK re our missiles in Turkey made me chuckle, for he, among others in the Senate, was partially responsible for the fact that our missiles were in Turkey in the first place. As I posted on TAC about 4-5 years ago:

    “tbraton says:
    October 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm
    “I clicked on the “nuclear weapons make you moderate” link; always ready to hear some good news! Unfortunately, the quote I read there was a joke. It was probably true as far as it goes (the USSR got more moderate after Stalin, etc.), but if moderation includes things like the Cuban missile crisis, then God save us all from a moderate nuclear-armed Iran.”

    According to Richard Reeves’ “President Kennedy: Profile” (1993): “The Premier [Khruschev] specifically mentioned U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey, lined up along the Soviet border. President Eisenhower had ordered them put there in 1959, partly to draw Turkey into NATO planning and partly to quiet Democrats like Senator Kennedy who were demanding the United States do something to neutralize big Soviet ICBMs. An intermediate-range missile on the border was essentially a strategic weapon, capable of reaching as deep into Soviet Union as an ICBM in North Dakota and able to get to the target a lot quicker. Eisenhower had been surprised that the Soviets did not react more vehemently to U.S. missile installations in Turkey and Italy. In JUne 1959, Ike had said privately that putting the Jupiters in Turkey was like the Soviet Union putting intermediate range missiles in Cuba or Mexico. He said, privately again, that for once Khruschev was absolutely right in accusing the United States of provocation, that if Soviets had done something like that , the United States would have had to take military action.” (pp.350-51)

    As part of the deal resolving the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. agreed to withdraw the Jupiter missiles from Turkey and quietly did so several months later.”

    I followed up with another post as follows:

    “tbraton says:
    October 15, 2011 at 7:59 am
    There is a piece on the Cuban Missile Crisis by Prof. Ernest May on Real Clear History which contains the following reference to our Jupiter missiles in Turkey, which were placed on the border of the USSR three years before Soviet missiles were placed in Cuba:

    Finessing the Turkish missiles issue
    On 26-27 October, the crisis came to a head. Khrushchev cabled Kennedy that he was prepared to remove missiles from Cuba in return for a US promise not to invade Cuba – a promise that had already been given more than once. But, just as Kennedy and his ExComm began to discuss a response, Khrushchev broadcast from Moscow a second message saying the missiles would be removed if, in addition, the United States withdrew nuclear missiles and other ‘offensive means’ from Turkey.

    The second Khrushchev message provoked furious debate. With Ball in the lead, Kennedy’s advisers said almost unanimously that Khrushchev’s new condition was unacceptable. America’s NATO allies would think the United States was sacrificing their security for the sake of its own. Kennedy alone seemed unconvinced. When Ball said, ‘If we talked to the Turks… this would be an extremely unsettling business’, Kennedy replied with asperity, ‘Well, this is unsettling now, George, because … most people would regard this as not an unreasonable proposal … I think you’re going to have it very difficult to explain why we are going to take hostile military action in Cuba … when he’s saying, “If you’ll get yours out of Turkey, we’ll get ours out of Cuba.”‘.

    What Kennedy wanted was to mollify Khrushchev without seeming to make a concession, and above all to avoid any prolonged negotiations.

    In the end, Kennedy found a way to finesse the situation. He sent Robert Kennedy to see the Soviet ambassador, Anatoly Dobrynin, to tell him that the missiles in Turkey were obsolete, and that the US planned to pull them out within about six months. All this was true. He said further, however, that, if the Soviet Union used this knowledge to claim that the US had struck the deal proposed in Khrushchev’s radio message, Kennedy would deny the claim and would not remove the missiles from Turkey. What Kennedy wanted was to mollify Khrushchev without seeming to make a concession, and above all to avoid any prolonged negotiations. He had to insist that Soviet missiles come out of Cuba unconditionally, or he would compromise the display of firmness that he judged necessary to protect against a Berlin crisis.

    In fact, the exchange between Robert Kennedy and Dobrynin had no effect. Khrushchev had already decided to retreat to a simple request for a no invasion pledge. And the crisis ended on that basis. US reconnaissance aircraft kept watch while the Soviets dismantled their missiles and loaded the parts on ships for return to the Soviet Union.

    Of course, in order to “save face” for the U.S. or to burnish JFK’s reputation, it was never openly acknowledged either that we had pledged not to invade Cuba or that we had promised to remove the Jupiter missiles from Turkey.”

    • Replies: @Rehmat
  8. @Fletcher the Dog

    I believe it IS Comrade Mikoyan.

    • Replies: @Regnum Nostrum
  9. joe webb says:

    your “. I think everybody would behave better if their neighbors had nukes.” reminds me of Huntingtons’ remark that the middle east Arabs ought to have nukes, or that at least one country should have them to ‘balance ‘ Israel, etc.

    While initially sympathetic to that view, I have changed. Israel at least is contained by the US.
    I assume we have attack subs following her nuke subs, etc. Israel could find itself reduced by about 7 million people, and its capital moved to New York City. Many on this list probably disagree.

    Jews are bad enough, but Arabs? Iranians? Puhlese. Let Russia provide some defense for the Arabs…no nukes for those crazy people with low IQ and high volatility.

    Maybe the writer should learn his abcs….one kiloton equals a thousand tons of TNT, (as I recall )..a pretty big boom, plus radiation. A megaton has a thousand thousand tons of TNT equivalent.
    I recall that the People’s Paradise set off a 50 megaton beauty.

    Get a grip. JOE Webb

  10. joe webb says:

    speculation…I seem to recall Shirley space-traveler MacLaine, the actress, planting a big kiss on Khruchev’s pate at some function. She may have saved us.

    Castro wanted to nuke us. It will probably eventuate that the Castro bros are from a converso background.

    Joe Webb

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  11. guest says:

    I think Obama won his Nobel prize for no reason other than that he was their sort of people and they though it’d be good publicity. Him being their sort of people probably has little to do with nuclear weapons policy specifically, except that his sort of people are the sort of people would that believe that sort of thing.

  12. Sean says:

    Meansheimer says much the same and he advised Ukraine to have nukes , but they preferred to rely on security guarantees from the West and … Russia.

    The Russians were alarmed (Khrushchev was terrified) at the prospect of Germany being allowed to have some control over NATO nuclear weapons, and maybe full German ones. Khrushchev privately talked about how Germans with nukes would be sending tanks blitzing for Moscow. That was what Cuba was all about. And the Germans stayed unnuked, so it worked. No Soviet leader was ever going to fight over Cuba. JFK’s rash bravado and tendency to get caught napping was clear to anyone who looked at his WW2 career.

  13. The greatest strategic blunder the US ever made was allowing Castro to consolidate his regime. He could have been easily toppled had the US military been given the go-ahead to remove him. Easily.

    • Replies: @Carlton Meyer
    , @joe webb
  14. Rehmat says:

    The American Conservative being a member of Israel Hasbara Committee , is as much a Zionist propaganda filth as the Wikipedia.

    • Replies: @tbraton
  15. @Connecticut Famer

    It is definitely Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan. If the author cannot get a simple fact like this correctly why should I believe the rest of the story which is not even facts but hearsay, assumptions, speculations, gossip, and all sorts of canards.

  16. @Epaminondas

    I agree that we should have taken out Castro. Not to preserve the wealthy Cuban landlord’s grip on power, but because we wouldn’t have to see Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz speaking today.

    But I’m only joking because invading Cuba would have resulted in a nuclear exchange in which millions of American would have died in one day. That is a fact!

    Rather than read all the details from this article, watch McNamara’s description of the Cuban missile crisis in the great, great documentary “Fog of War.”

    • Replies: @guest
  17. joe webb says:

    tempting proposal but….I was in Cuba in 2000 for a leftie conference. I only went to enjoy watching my few friends squirm, and squirm they did with especially the brown ladies telling us how civil society was the seedbed of capitalism and that therefore it had to be heavily policed.

    I also wanted to see stalinism lite before it faded away. And I did, walking all over Havana and talking to folks, and one trip into the countryside. I wrote it up but no left journal would accept it. Strange.

    I thought about murdering Castro if he showed up at the conference. But rationality and actually not much fear kept me from doing so. He did not show up anyhow. Also, because vestiges of sanity were to be seen in the norte americano gringo academics, the show was not reinvited for the following year.

    Point: communism and its pimping little sister, liberalism must be allowed to fail all by themselves. A yanqui killing Castro would set the wrong tone. Chavez fails, Castros fail, and all the little Fidelistas fail, and so on.

    That is the historically more convincing path. Of course, die-hard commies just have to die off, like those that get onto UR. That is the way it is.

    Joe Webb

    • Replies: @tbraton
  18. haah, no matter what we said about the fat boy in north korea, he isn’t stupid. especially after gadafi.

  19. tbraton says:

    “The American Conservative being a member of Israel Hasbara Committee , is as much a Zionist propaganda filth as the Wikipedia.”

    Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos, two of the three founders of TAC, will be somewhat startled to hear that.

    BTW what was it about my prior message, which merely quoted a few messages I had posted years ago on TAC, that prompted your outburst against Israelis and Zionists? Did they have something to do with the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 that I wasn’t aware of?

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  20. guest says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    The above poster wasn’t talking about invading Cuba in the middle of the crisis, but before Castro took control. There wouldn’t have been any number nuclear exchange in that situation, and there’s plenty of precedent.

  21. tbraton says:
    @joe webb

    “Point: communism and its pimping little sister, liberalism must be allowed to fail all by themselves. A yanqui killing Castro would set the wrong tone. Chavez fails, Castros fail, and all the little Fidelistas fail, and so on.

    That is the historically more convincing path. Of course, die-hard commies just have to die off, like those that get onto UR. That is the way it is.”

    I would have been inclined to agree with you, but I notice that the Soviet Union disappeared in 1991 and currently a number of young Americans are apparently in love with socialism. I was born near the tail end of WWII and grew up during the Cold War, but I can honestly say that I never ever flirted with socialism or communism even as a teenager. The current infatuation with socialism despite its sorry historical record has me completely baffled. That is a sad commentary on our present educational system and a sad commentary on young people, who don’t especially impress me with their intellectual qualities.

  22. @Rehmat

    Pakistan is so dangerous and unstable that its government
    1. Can’t make visiting sporting teams safe enough for cricket Test matches and other sporting events to be held there;
    2. Can’t stop hundreds of children – even children of military personnel – being slaughtered by Taliban;
    3. Is powerless to prevent murder of a civilised provincial governor – and its widespread celebration – because he uttered a few humane and reasonable words in favour of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy…

    So do you think it is a good thing Pakistan has nuclear weapons? If so why?

    What would be the consequence for Pakistan if it didn’t have nuclear weapons?

    Is the worst case scenario some extension of Indian control over Kashmir (and if so why wasn’t that achieved before Pakistan had nuclear weapons?)?
    And why would that matter enough to justify Pakistan spending scarce resources on, and even going to war with, nuclear weapons?

  23. @joe webb

    “converso background”?

    So the suggestion is that the fanaticism of the convert – in this case to Christianity – followed by perhaps the topping up of that fanaticism by conversion to Marxism produced a dangerous Latin American phenomenon – maybe like the feral Jesuits and other lefties that got Popes so worried????

  24. @tbraton

    The Rehmat consortium contrives effortlessly to simulate the screaming denizen of Bedlam.

  25. I would have been interested in more believable detail about serious high level planning by the CIA or other for an invasion of Cuba after the staging of an incident like the sinking of a US ship at Guantanamo. What appears in what declassified material?

    It would be good to know of high level plans (if there have been any outside the back rooms)for the US to use a transparent pretext comparable to Hitler’s excuse for invading Poland.

    • Replies: @mtn cur
  26. mtn cur says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Someone might remember that we already did the sinking ship gig.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  27. @mtn cur

    Remind me. I am not fully switched over from the glory and disgrace of the British Empire to the even shorter term and already declining spectacle of the American Empire so don’t have my Trivial Pursuits mode switched to the right channel at this moment. Not a reference to the Tonkin Gulf I think and not even a truther could think that FDR contrived those December 41 sinkings. The Liberty didn’t sink and anyway the tune is wrong. Cuba 1898 perhaps?

    • Replies: @mtn cur
  28. Anastas Mikoyan visited Cuba in 1960, way before the Cuban missile crisis. The man behind him in the foto is not Pliyev but Alexei Alexeyev, who later became Soviet ambassador to Cuba.

  29. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Twelve Unaswered Questions About the Cuban Missile Crisis

    One of the unintended consequences of the end of the Cold War was that liars on both sides (read spies and intelligence officers) joined forces to misinform. For example, a decade ago gathered in Havana none other than Robert McNamara, Alexei Aleseyev, Sergio Mikoyan, Fidel Castro and other professional disinformation specialists. The reason for the meeting was to discuss about the missile crisis of October 1962.

    The crisis, which allegedly began 50 years ago when an American U-2 plane discovered that the Soviet Union had installed missile bases in Cuba for medium-range strategic nuclear missiles, is still a hot topic in the history of the Cold War. Documents declassified a few years ago, and countless new books on the subject, have given us a vision, indeed terrifying, of the dangerous time when, according to these authors, the world was on the brink of nuclear war. According to them, the missing pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly well to give us a coherent picture of what actually happened during the crisis.
    Maybe too well.

    The truth, however, is that despite everything that has been written, some key questions remain unanswered. I am offering below a few pieces of the puzzle that are still missing, but they are not the only ones.

    Question 1. According to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the idea of placing nuclear missiles in Cuba to defend the Castro government from an American attack came during a trip he made to Bulgaria from 14 to 20 May, 1962. But a few days earlier, on May 5, Cuban Ambassador Faure Chomón definitely had returned from Moscow and its successor, Carlos Olivares, who was appointed twelve days later, still remained in Cuba without presenting his credentials to the Soviet government. The unexpected replacement of Chomón and his urgent return to Cuba coincided with the discovery and subsequent neutralization by Fidel Castro of a coup attempt to overthrow him. The failed coup had been coordinated by the Soviet ambassador in Havana Sergei Kudryavtsev, and seconded by several key members of the traditional pro-Soviet Cuban Communist Party.

    Ambassadort Kudryavtsev, whom Barron in his book KGB called a “master of subversion,” had another job besides being ambassador. His real job was to act as a senior Soviet KGB intelligence officer in Havana and prepare the conditions for a takeover by the Russians after Casto was deposed. But Castro discovered the plot and summarily expelled Kudryavtsev from Cuba along with a group of his embassy officials and KGB agents on 20 May 1962. However, as senior Soviet intelligence officers never act motu proprio, but strictly by-the-book, one can safely surmise that Kudryavtsev anti-Castro activities followed orders from the top Soviet leadership, most likely from Khrushchev himself.

    In diplomatic language, when two countries respectively withdraw their ambassadors it means that the relations are at a very low point, usually close to a breakup. Why was precisely after a failed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro and when relations between the two countries were so unfriendly, that Khrushchev got the wild idea of placing nuclear missiles in Cuba to protect Castro from an American attack? Was Khrushchev crazy?


    Question 2. According to most American authors who have studied the crisis, a key element in its successful solution by President Kennedy was the important role played by Colonel Oleg Penkovsky, a colonel in Soviet military intelligence (GRU), who had been recruited by the CIA. It was a remarkable coincidence, these authors said, that a few months before the crisis Penkovsky had provided the CIA with a copy of the operating manual of the same type of missiles that the Soviets later emplaced in Cuba. Penkovsky was arrested by the Soviet authorities a day before the beginning crisis and allegedly sentenced to death and executed some months later. Even today the CIA recruitment of Penkovsky is considered one its greatest successes, which contributed greatly to restoring the lost prestige after the resounding failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion.

    But top officials of the MI6, the British intelligence service, had a very different opinion about Penkovsky. To them, who were actually those who made the first contacts with the Soviet officer and then passed it on to the CIA, Penkovsky was the main element of a disinformation operation of the Soviet intelligence. Apart from the irregular way in which Penkovsky was recruited — Penkovsky tried on several occasions to be recruited by British intelligence, but they always refused because considered him an agent provocateur — there is strong evidence indicating that, from their first contact with the British, Soviet intelligence was aware of Penkovsky’s activities.

    For this and other reasons, Peter Wright, the famous British spy hunter and former deputy director of MI5 (the British FBI), is convinced that Penkovsky was actually a key element in a Soviet disinformation operation.

    So if, as it appears, Penkovsky actually worked for the Soviet intelligence services, or they had him under surveillance because from the beginning knew of his treachery, why they allowed Penkovsky to give the CIA such detailed information about exactly the type of missiles they were to deploy in Cuba, which later helped the CIA to identify them on Cuban soil?

    Question 3. According to secret Soviet government documents, made available to researchers a few years ago, Soviet officers in Cuba had complete autonomy over the use of nuclear missiles, to the point where they can be fired at will without the express permission of Moscow. If true, this would have violated all procedures established by the Soviet army on the use of nuclear weapons.

    The Soviets have always been very careful in the control of their nuclear weapons, to the point that, although the Army officers had control over rocket artillery missiles with conventional warheads, the nuclear warheads remained apart, controlled by special units of the KGB Spetsnaz. According to their standard operating procedure, the mating of nuclear warheads to missiles was made only following express orders strictly validated by the Soviet high command after having been authorized by the Prime Minister. These regulations were in place before the crisis and maintained thereafter. So, why the Soviets, as alleged in the case of the missiles in Cuba, so drastically violated strict security procedures established by the Soviet military doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons?

    Question 4. In its issue of November 24, 1990, the French magazine Le Monde published parts of a secret speech that Fidel Castro addressed to the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party in 1968, in which he confessed his “immense love” for the nuclear missiles the Soviets had deployed on Cuban soil. It is known that, on October 22, at a critical moment of the crisis, Cuban army units assaulted and occupied for several hours a battery of Soviet missiles anti-aircraft missiles in the eastern part of Cuba, until they were outmanned by Soviet special units, with heavy casualties on both sides. That was the battery that shot down a U-2 during the crisis. The unusual fact was later published in the Washington Times by Daniel Ellsberg, then an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Defense Department, and later confirmed by Adrian Montoro, ex-director of Radio Havana Cuba, in an article he wrote for the New York Times.

    Those who participated in the crisis on the U.S. side repeatedly mentioned Khrushchev’s inexplicable folly of placing nuclear missiles in Cuba. All agreed that jus a single nuclear missile fired from Cuban territory to the United States would have caused a devastating U.S. military response directed not only against Cuba, but also against the Soviet Union. Why Khrushchev, who was no fool and knew perfectly well the extraordinary love that trigger happy Fidel felt for the nuclear missiles, placed so dangerously close to Castro the nuclear trigger that could have brought the total destruction of the Soviet Union?

    Question 5. According to the official story, what finally convinced Castro, who at first was not all get to over the idea of accepting the missiles, was the certainty that President Kennedy was planning an attack on the island. The ultimate proof was submitted in the confidential notes of a conversation that Soviet journalist Alexei Adzhubei, Izvestia’s editor and Khrushchev’s son-in-law, had with President Kennedy a few days earlier in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. According Adzhubei, Kennedy had brought up the subject of the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, reminding him that at that time the United States had not intervened. This, according to the Soviets, was a clear warning that when the Americans invaded Cuba, the Soviets, in return, should refrain from intervening.

    The problem with this theory is that Americans who were at the meeting have denied time and again that Kennedy had mentioned Hungary during the interview, let alone that the U.S. had plans for an invasion of Cuba. All information in this regard seems to confirm the veracity of the American version. Apparently the secret report was a lie specially designed by Adzhubei to convince Castro to accept rockets. Apparently Khrushchev was so eager to convince Castro into accepting the missiles that he went to the point of lying about an impending American attack that did not really exist. But, why?

    Question 6. Available evidence shows that that Fidel Castro really wanted at the time was that the Soviet Union admitted Cuba to the Warsaw Pact or at least sign a separate military treaty with the Cuban government. But, if one is to believe Premier Khrushchev, the best solution to protect the government of Fidel Castro from a U.S. invasion was installing nuclear missile bases in Cuba.

    According to secret Soviet documents brought to light a few years ago, when Americans discovered what looked like strategic missile bases on Cuban soil, they were ready to be fired, and nuclear warheads were already in the island, ready to be matted with the missiles. But, surprisingly, as the crisis went on, Khrushchev gave in to U.S. pressure and withdrew the missile bases from Cuba. In his memoirs, the Soviet leader claims that his decision was because he had received concrete evidence that Kennedy had decided to launch an attack on Cuba.

    So, according to his logic, Khrushchev placed nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter or repel an American attack on the island, and then withdrew them when he was told that the U.S. was going to attack Cuba. Khrushchev’s strange behavior cannot be explained by cowardice or incompetence, because the Soviet military often demonstrated its courage and military domination of technology in the war against the Nazis. Why, then, Khrushchev withdrew the missiles at the precise moment when they could have been used for the purpose for which they were installed in Cuba? This explanation does not make head or tail.

    Question 7. Most American authors who have studied the crisis believe that Khrushchev made a huge miscalculation when he placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, because instead of discouraging an American attack, actually encouraged it. But there are elements that suggest that, contrary to what these authors’ claim, Khrushchev did not commit any error in calculation.

    In its National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) circulated in September 1962, just a few days before the crisis, CIA intelligence analysts, despite all the rumors that the Soviets were building strategic missile bases in Cuba, refused to consider this possibility. The main reason, experts and intelligence analysts from the CIA concluded, was that the Soviets had never transferred nuclear warheads beyond its borders. Another important reason was that Khrushchev had to be aware that the installation of nuclear missile bases in Cuba would trigger a devastating U.S. attack on the island. Soviet secret documents and references made in Khrushchev’s own memoirs seem to confirm this view. If this is true, why Khrushchev ordered to build the missile bases in the knowledge that, far from discouraging, this will surely provoke a U.S. attack?

    Question 8. One aspect that caught the attention of CIA’s intelligence analysts was that the Russians had not camouflaged the missile bases. In photos taken by U-2s, the bases are perfectly defined, without any camouflage concealing them. This is very strange, because the Soviets were experts at masking. Maskirovka always constituted an important aspect of Soviet military tactics, and camouflaging techniques always received special attention in the Soviet military schools. However, it was not until October 23, a day after Kennedy announced on television the discovery of missile bases on Cuban soil, that the Soviets began hastily attempting to camouflage them.

    The fact that the Soviet officers used no camouflage to mask the missile bases caused deep unease among some senior Cuban officials, including Che Guevara. In a secret speech delivered months after to senior members of his “Communis” party,” Castro mentioned the unexplainable fact, and said that he thought the Soviets had done it on purpose. If, as it appears, this is true, why the Soviets wanted the Americans to discover the missile bases?

    Question 9. The facilities that appeared to be strategic nuclear missile bases were surrounded by anti-aircraft rocket batteries (SAMs), whose primary purpose was to protect the bases against air raids, particularly from spy planes. But engineering students at the University of Havana, who had been assigned as advisers to the radar units of the SAM bases, observed how their radar screens showed the U-2 flying over the bases without Soviet officials making the minimum attempt to shoot them down.

    This Soviet behavior angered the Cuban students, who did not understand the cause of the failure of the Soviets to shoot down the spy planes. This anger grew to the point that in some bases it reached almost to the levelt of a revolt. Only the presence of Che Guevara, called urgently to the SAM batteries, managed to calm them down. However, when he in turn informed of the situation on the bases to Castro, Guevara told him that he himself did not understand the Soviet’s behavior. Why the Soviets did not attempt to shoot down American spy planes with the very rocket batteries whose sole purpose was to bring down American spy planes?

    Question 10. According to the official U.S. version of the facts, what sparked off the crisis were the photos taken by a U-2 spy plane flying over the western part of Cuba on October 14. The truth is that since August the U.S. intelligence services were certain that there were Soviet missile bases on Cuban soil. Between August 31 and October 10, Senator Kenneth Keating had made fourteen public statements and ten speeches in the Senate, denouncing the inaction of the Kennedy administration about the existence of missile bases in the western part of Cuba. Cuban refugees who were flying from Cuba to Florida by the hundreds, commented on the strange activities of the Russians in the western part of the island.

    However, despite all the evidence pointed towards the west, Kennedy suddenly banned the U-2 to fly over the western part of Cuba, and flights were concentrated in the eastern region. It was not until the pressure of public opinion and Senator Keating became intolerable that Kennedy ordered to resume flights over the western part of the island. It was in this first flight after the restart of the flights that a U-2 plane photographed what looked like missile bases. Why Kennedy did not want the U-2s to discover the Soviet missiles in Cuba?

    Question 11. According to the official U.S. version of the crisis, the high definition photographs taken by a U-2 plane on October 14 provided incontrovertible evidence of the presence of nuclear missiles in Cuba. But the fact remains that nobody actually saw the missiles, much less touched them. What we have seen are photos of some construction sites that CIA analysts thought were similar to what they believed were strategic missile sites appearing in photographs taken by U-2s flying over the Soviet Union.

    However, in his book The Soviet Army, former Soviet officer Victor Suborov tells how, in the early sixties, nuclear rockets that paraded through Red Square were actually dummies. The Russians, experts in the art of maskirovka and desinfomatzia since the time of Potemkin, had built during the Second World War a giant factory west of the Ural mountains exclusively dedicated to the manufacture of all kinds of war material of props, from inflatable rubber tanks to wooden MiGs and missile dummies.

    CIA subsequently admitted that it had no agents in the field that might have physically verified the existence of the strategic nuclear missiles on Cuban soil. When the Soviets were shipping back to the Soviet Union what they claimed were strategic nuclear missiles, Kennedy had an excellent opportunity to order the Navy to board the ships and physically verify the withdrawal of the missiles, but he did not. Why Kennedy decided not to verify the existence of the missiles and their actual withdrawing from Cuba?

    Furthermore, the U-2 pictures, which allegedly provided incontrovertible proof of the existence of nuclear missiles on Cuban soil, have been published in high resolution and are available on the web. Surprisingly, such photos only show long objects covered with tarps and a few concrete bunkers which allegedly contained the nuclear warheads. But the vaunted nuclear missiles do not appear anywhere. Why most books and articles about the crisis continue to maintain the theory that the U-2 pictures provided incontrovertible proof that there were nuclear missiles on Cuban soil in 1962?

    Question 12. According to documents declassified after the fall of the Soviet Union and confessions of some Soviet officers who participated in the operation, when the missiles were discovered by the U-2s, their nuclear warheads were already in Cuba, and were returned to the Soviet Union together with the missiles. However, all documents of the crisis Americans and one repeated over time, but assumed that the nuclear warheads were on Cuban soil, this was never proved. However, as Kennedy refused to authorize offshore verification, the presence of nuclear warheads on the Soviet ships was never confirmed.

    But there is something even more important. From the beginning of the sixties the U.S. had the technology for the remote detection of gamma radiation from nuclear warheads. By this time they had installed in the Dardanelles some powerful equipment that can detect radiation, and the presence of nuclear warheads on Soviet submarines sailing through the Strait. However, none of the official documents produced during the crisis has brought information that these teams had registered radiation from Soviet ships crossing the Strait supposedly carrying nuclear warheads to Cuba.

    Many of the photos taken during the crisis show U.S. Navy aircraft flying over Soviet ships only a few feet above the masts. Presumably, some of these aircraft carried equipment capable of detecting gamma radiation. But no information whatsoever has been offered about detecting radiation from nuclear warheads on the ships allegedly carrying missiles and nuclear warheads back to the Soviet Union. So, if the Soviets really had nuclear warheads in Cuba, why nobody ever detected radiation from these?

    More Questions Than Answers

    Some professional disinformation specialists have conspired to make us believe that, with regard to the missile crisis, all has been said and explained. The first book about the missile crisis was written by CFR agent Elie Abel. Then Graham T. Ellison (CFR), wrote Essence of Decision, a book that most people still consider the ultimate analysis of the decision making process during the crisis.

    According to Allison, the Soviet failure to camouflage the missiles may have had a simple answer: stupid bureaucratic procedures in the Soviet Army. Missile sites had never been camouflaged in the Soviet Union, so the construction crews at the sites did what they usually do: build the missile sites according to the installation manuals because somebody forgot to retrain them before they went to work on this mission.

    But, knowing the operational procedures of the Soviet Army this explanation seems a bit too simplistic to be credible. First of all, the officers and enlisted men assigned to the job of missile emplacement are normally not common soldiers, but specially trained personnel. Secondly, even with the existence of stupid bureaucratic procedures common to all armies, it is difficult to believe that they had made such a gross mistake, particularly if they were trying to place the missiles in Cuba using deception and stealth as the American official version claimed. Finally, Allison contradicts himself when, just two paragraphs before advancing his theory, he mentions that “The clandestine manner in which the missiles were shipped, unloaded, and transported to construction sites reveals the hand of Soviet intelligence agencies. Secrecy is their standard operating procedure.”

    Talking to journalists at a news conference on February 1963, CFR agent Robert McNamara mentioned the so-called “photographic gap” that occurred between September 5 and October 14. According to McNamara, the U-2 missions during that period “didn’t relate” to the areas where the Russian missiles were eventually found. That was short of a tacit admission that the CIA had failed to photograph the western half of the Island — the area where all evidence pointed that the missiles were most likely to be — during the six weeks preceding the flight that allegedly discovered the long-range missiles.

    Those who needed to know had been assured that any missile emplacements would have been discovered by the U-2 reconnaissance flights over Cuba. But they were not told that these flights were bypassing the important areas allegedly to avoid antiaircraft batteries or SAMs already installed by the Soviets. But, after being ordered to fly over the suspect areas in Cuba, early in October the U-2 flights were inexplicably canceled.

    After the crisis, the White House justified this decision by saying that Hurricane Ella had prevented air surveillance, but we know that Ella did not form until October 16. Even before the crisis was over, suspicions arise that the U-2 flights over Cuba had not been scheduled in an optimal manner. Later, in early 1963, the possibility of a “photographic gap” in U-2 coverage of Cuba was examined in detail by the Stennis Committee, but the charges were rejected as “unfounded.” However, the Stennis Report curiously ignored the critical questions of the U-2 paths over the Island between September 5 and October 24, merely observing that these flights “completed the coverage of those areas of Cuba which had been spotlighted as required early attention.” Yet, during cross examination by Congressmen Minshall and Ford in early February, 1963, Defense Secretary McNamara (CFR) admitted to the “photographic gap” of some 38 days in U-2 coverage of western Cuba.

    Though in his book Collision Course author Henry Pachter makes no reference to the “photographic gap,” he somewhat admits its existence in references to vague hints by administration sources that, because of the threat of Soviet SAM antiarcraft missiles in Cuba, reconnaissance flights during September had been limited to “side ways approaches.” Roger Hilsman’s 1964 article on the missile crisis gives no further explanation or consequences of the “photographic gap.”

    Even more significantly, in his now classic study of the alleged failures in national intelligence estimates, author Klaus Knorr (CFR) didn’t mention the “photographic gap” or even the role played by the U-2 in the intelligence gathering during the crisis. Some years later Theodor Sorensen (CFR) remarked that U-2 incidents elsewhere in the world led to a “high-lever reexamination of that airplane’s use” over Cuba and “some delay in flights,” but gave no additional information. Later in 1965 Roberta Wohlstetter (CFR) suggested that the Kennedy administration knew the Soviets had operations SAM sites in western Cuba, so the may have been extremely cautious in scheduling U-2 flights over the Island for fear of losing a plane.

    Additional disclosures concerning a change in policy concerning U-2 flights over Cuba were made by Elie Abel (CFR) and Roger Hilsman. Not even Graham T. Allison (CFR) gave a clear explanation for the failure of U.S. intelligence, due to a “photographic gap,” to discover the missiles earlier.

    Therefore, the fact remains that on September 10 a high level decision was made and express orders were given, prohibiting direct overflights of western Cuba —the part of the Island where all evidence pointed to the presence of strategic missile sites. This unexplainable decision led to the now famous “photographic gap.”

    Many years later, CIA photo interpreter Dino Brugioni offered a much more credible explanation: It was not the hurricane Ella that kept the U-2 from flying over the western part of Cuba, “but rather the dereliction, bumbling, and intransigence of [Secretary of State Dean] Rusk (CFR) and [Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs McGeorge] Bundy (CFR).” “Because of Bundy’s and Rusk’s stalling actions, there had been no U-2 photos of Cuba for over two weeks.”

    As expected, Foreign Affairs, the Council on Foreign Relations conspirators’ main disinformation organ, has just published on its web site some articles basically centered on the “lessons” of the Cuban missile crisis and its applicability to future crises. Now, given the fact that the “lessons” are based on the conspirators’ false narrative of the events, one have to conclude that these “lessons” are wrong.

    Nevertheless, the fact remains that, 50 years after, none of the above questions I have asked above have been satisfactorily answered. Moreover, I believe that a coherent answer to these questions will not be provided by the CFR professional disinformers because the answers will show us a very different picture than the one they are still trying hard to make us believe.

    Finally, a logical question can come to mind: Why these professional disinformers, most of them CFR members, spend so much time and effort muddying the historical waters? The answer is relatively simple: Because, true to the Orwellian principle that he who controls the past controls the present and the future, giving credibility to false past fears like the Cold War, the CFR disinformers lend credence to present false fears like the War on terror.
    The questions I have posed in this article are fully answered in my book The Nuclear Hoax: Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  30. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    References ? Footnotes? Another junk article.

  31. mtn cur says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Indeed! 1898 it is. Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain. Of course, you don’t even have to sink a real ship if you can conjure a convenient attempt, malice afore thought.

  32. mtn cur says:

    On further reflection, it could claimed that hackers tampering with GPS software caused an entire carrier task force to run aground at Bay of Pigs and the fleet marines went into a joyful combat ecstasy.

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