He was a fervent Cold Warrior whose most important triumphs came in the name of peace. He avoided nuclear holocaust during the Cuban missile crisis and negotiated a partial nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviet Union. He took office with a muscular promise that the United States would “pay any price, bear any burden” in the battle for freedom. But five months before his death, he became a prophet of what would be called detente, describing peace as “the necessary, rational end of rational men.”
Tag Archive for Cuban Missile Crisis
Our 7th podcast. This week we discuss:
Tim Naftali is the former head of the Nixon library, a historian of U.S. intelligence and a chronicler of the Cuban Missile Crisis. So I follow him closely.
In a “blunt” speech at American University, President Obama “aggressively” defended the international agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program by invoking the daring diplomacy of President John F. Kennedy.
The polemical fire in Obama’s address targeted the many critics of the deal who supported the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003. The setting invoked JFK’s “strategy of peace” speech, delivered on the same campus in June 1963. The analogy of Obama’s Iran nuclear deal to JFK’s Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty took up much of the speech.
But the historical strength of Obama’s argument came from another source: Read more
The Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 marked a turning point for President John F. Kennedy. His bold but deft diplomacy spared the world a war that might have gone nuclear. Peace proved popular and JFK’s approval ratings soared. Here’s how it started.
From the font of wisdom that is NewsMax, comes this report: Secret Tapes Reveal JFK’s Duplicity on Cuba, Civil Rights. President Kennedy’s offense in the judgment of today’s right-wing is that he resolved the Cuban missile crisis in secret collaboration with communists.
“This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich.”
— Air Force General Curtis LeMay to JFK upon being told that the U.S. would respond to Soviet missiles in Cuba with a blockade, not an invasion. Read more
Michael Swanson, an investment adviser turned JFK researcher, called my attention to “Council of War,” a fascinating official history of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which documents the Pentagon’s resistance to, and resentment of, President Kennedy’s foreign policy, especially on Cuba and Vietnam.
Published last year by the JCS, the study presents an unvarnished view of an unprecedented mistrust between White House and Pentagon in the year before Kennedy was violently removed from power.
“Read this book and you are reading a real history of the American empire and defense establishment written for future leaders of the Pentagon and armed forces,” writes Swanson, who plans to publish his own study of the Cold War from 1945-1963 in the fall.
Some highlights from “Council of War:”
As the United States lurched towards war over Soviet missiles in Cuba in October 1962, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy refused the suggestion that she leave her husband in the White House and move to a safer location.
A newly declassified Pentagon study, published today by the non-profit National Security Archive, sheds new light on the thinking of U.S. military leaders at the height of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962.
As President Kennedy searched for a solution that did not involve a war that might have gone nuclear, the Pentagon was itching to escalate.
On the Monday following the tragic and astonishing events in Dallas, President Kennedy’s body was laid to rest in Arlington cemetery. A host of foreign dignitaries took part, including British Prime Minister Home, French President Charles de Gaulle, and many others.
Meanwhile the federal government’s response to the assassination was taking shape. Read more
In a smart piece for the Washington Post, Michael Dobbs notes the similarities between President Obama’s predicament in Syria and President Kennedy’s dilemma during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962.
While there are many differences, one basic dynamic is the same: how does the president of the United States resist pressures for a war of choice (not necessity) created by the articulation of red lines.
Dobbs, author of “One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War,” writes;