Blockade. “The most dangerous moment of the 45 year history of the Cold War took place in the early 1960s when we had the Cuban Missile Crisis. . Arguably the most dangerous confrontation the world has faced, the crisis occurred at the height of Cold War tensions. The aim of this "quarantine," as he called it, was to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more military supplies. More than 50 years on, Mark White re-examines the conduct of the president John F Kennedy and his brother Robert, … “The real danger is [any] use of nuclear weapons.”, The missiles in Cuba might add to the danger, but they didn’t create it, he insisted. Although the Soviets removed their missiles from Cuba, they escalated the building of their military arsenal; the missile crisis was over, the arms race was not. But one can imagine his jaw tightening, his temples pulsing, and his eyes fixed firmly on LeMay. A surprised, embarrassed, and angry President John F. Kennedy blockaded the island and after eleven tense days the Soviet Union withdrew its missiles. It was impossible to be sure that all the missiles were destroyed, Gen. Wheeler asserted “until and unless we actually occupy the island.” From a military point of view, he concluded, “I feel that the lowest risk course of action is the full gamut of military action by us. “You’re in a pretty bad fix,” LeMay repeated. John F. Kennedy did not ''announce'' the Cuban Missile Crisis. In October 1962, an American U-2 spy plane secretly photographed nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union on the island of Cuba. He informed the people of the United States of the "quarantine" placed around Cuba … And I’m sure a lot of our own citizens would feel that way, too. The context of the Cuban Missile Crisis is complex, but, in brief, President Castro was concerned that Cuba would be invaded by American forces, while Mr. Khrushchev wanted to gain a foothold in the Caribbean which could potentially be used … It was a political risk, but in light of the possibility that an attack could lead to a war with the Soviet Union, Kennedy reasoned, possibilities had to be treated as probabilities. Risking ground troops when there are nuclear missiles involved is too dangerous. Khrushchev did not want a war. After much debate in his administration Kennedy authorized a clandestine invasion of Cuba by a brigade of Cuban exiles. The Soviet Union’s ICBMs, bombers, and submarines can kill eighty to one hundred million Americans. The chiefs assumed that a prompt military response (bombing and invasion) would coerce the Soviets, but the president believed it would provoke them to respond in kind: “They can’t let us . It will lead right into war. “We don’t have any choice except direct military action,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Curtis LeMay added. On the other hand, if we attack the missiles or invade Cuba it gives them a clear line to take [West] Berlin,” Khrushchev’s highest priority since 1958. It offers a cardinal lesson in presidential leadership in the nuclear age. But Bundy’s report made it clear that Khrushchev had deceived him. John F. Kennedy's Speech on Cuban Missile Crisis Section I Introduction Every United States President has encountered certain challenges of his period and put his unique oratorical stamp on the issue. Cuban Missile Crisis Address to the Nation. Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know now on politics, health and more, © 2020 TIME USA, LLC. So that we’ve got a real problem in maintaining the alliance.”, “Am I clear,” General Wheeler asked, “that you are addressing yourself as to whether anything at all should be done?”, “But that if military action is to be taken,” Wheeler pressed, “you agree with us.”. The decision to blockade rather than invade Cuba led to the most dangerous week of the Cold War. It also may have helped mitigate negative world opinion regarding the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. John F. Kennedy. You have to wait until the actual records are revealed much later to find out what really happened.The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 is one such event which is often portrayed as the time when the world got closest to nuclear war. Save on the cover price & free e-Gift card for Giftees! He met in secret with his advisors for several days to discuss the problem. . Use the Navy to set up a perimeter around Cuba. His decision would depend on too many variables for the president to accept the chiefs’ blithe assumptions. It is a loss to history that there is no photograph of Kennedy’s face at that moment. “You’re talking about the destruction of a country,” he said. During childhood, his family lived in several western states as his father's work in construction caused them to move frequently. Rescue Animals Are TIME's 2020 Pet of the Year, You can unsubscribe at any time. As American troops assaulted the island they would have confronted four times the 10,000 Soviet troops the CIA estimated in Cuba, and they would have been massacred by an array of Soviet tactical nuclear weapons that American intelligence had not discovered. By signing up you are agreeing to our, Here’s How We Could End War in Afghanistan, Jailed Joshua Wong Vows Hong Kong's Struggle Will Continue. Ralph Crane—Life Magazine/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images. Read formerly classified documents and listen in on secretly recorded ExComm meetings during the Cuban Missile Crisis. People watching President John F. Kennedy's TV announcement of Cuban blockade during the missile crisis in a department store in California on Oct.22, 1962. When we recognize the importance of Berlin to Europe, and recognize the importance of our allies to us, that’s what has made this thing be a dilemma for three days. The Soviets increase; we use [force]; they blockade Berlin. It required shedding firmly held Cold War doctrines and resisting the arguments of hard-line advisers who favored attacking Cuba and overthrowing Castro. President Kennedy and principal foreign policy and national defense officials are briefed on the U-2 findings. That’s it, sir.”. Fifty years ago the United States and the Soviet Union stood closer to Armageddon than at any other moment in history. “Yeah,” Kennedy responded, sounding more like a parent exhausted from a debate with his teenagers than a president discussing strategy with his military commanders. President Kennedy did not want the Soviet Union and Cuba to know that he had discovered the missiles. But he was driven by obligations and pressures that could force him to retaliate if his missiles were attacked. . The most dramatic moments of that crisis—the famed “thirteen days—lasted from October 16, 1962, when President Kennedy first learned that the Soviet Union was constructing missile launch sites in Cuba, to October 28, when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev publicly announced he was removing the missiles from the … In other words,” LeMay declared, “you’re in a pretty bad fix at the present time.”. The Cuban Missile Crisis was Khrushchev's colossal, irresponsible gamble, which in retrospect appears almost incomprehensibly stupid. delivered 22 October 1962. “We recognize all these things, Mr. President,” General Taylor responded, and presented the basic assumption that shaped the Chiefs’ recommendations: Cuba is the test of U.S. resolve. The meeting in the Oval Office on October 19th began at 10 a.m. with JCS chairman, Gen. Maxwell Taylor, explaining that the chiefs unanimously agreed on a minimum of three steps: a surprise [bombing] attack against the known missile sites, continued surveillance, and a blockade to prevent reinforcements from entering Cuba. Then we take an initial action.” The additional firepower that the missiles in Cuba added to the Soviet arsenal didn’t add “particularly to our danger,” he insisted. Gen. LeMay then reminded the president that he had made several strong public statements warning the Soviets against sending offensive weapons of any type to Cuba. After many long and difficult meetings, Kennedy decided to place a naval blockade, or a ring of ships, around Cuba. The Cuban Revolution was an affront to the United States, which took control of the island following the Spanish-American War of 1898. In his commencement address at American University, President Kennedy urged Americans to reexamine Cold War stereotypes and myths and called for a strategy of peace that would make the world safe for diversity. The first was the rise of the Cuban communist movement, which in 1959 overthrew President Fulgencio Batista and brought Fidel Castro to power. “But what about the Soviet reaction to an attack on Cuba?” the president asked. On Tuesday morning, October 16, 1962 President John F. Kennedy awoke to a political and security nightmare. But with diplomacy and luck, compromise and serendipity, the crisis ended peacefully when Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles on Sunday morning, October 28. Audio mp3 of Address The political and military standoff that followed between the US and the USSR resulted in a naval quarantine, a downed American plane, and the fear of nuclear escalation. “Thank you, General,” Kennedy tellingly responded. The president’s more cautious attitude reflected the advice he had first received from his Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson: Focus on diplomacy and make it as easy as possible for Khrushchev to back down. A review of his reasoning reveals the historical roots of his thinking and its crude mimicking of United States nuclear policies. In public and private statements Premier Nikita Khrushchev had stated that he sent only defensive armaments to Cuba, and during a press conference in September the president had warned Khrushchev that the United States would not tolerate offensive weapons. But it was a gamble based on 17 years of nuclear experiences going back to Hiroshima. In October 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union were held in high tension due to the cold war. “If we don’t respond here in Cuba we think the credibility of our response in Berlin is endangered,” Taylor declared. The Real Story Of The Cuban Missile Crisis, When The World Was On The Brink Of Nuclear Annihilation More information. In early 1961 President John F. Kennedy concluded that Fidel Castro was a Soviet client working to subvert Latin America. Instead, send bombers to Cuba to bomb all of the known missile sites on the island. This was an independent event that occurred in 1962. “The Joint Chiefs of Staff saw Fidel Castro’s regime as a cancer that must be removed, by whatever means proved necessary,” according to Walter Poole, the official historian of the JCS. The group became known as ExCom, sh… In October 1962 President John F. Kennedy was informed of a U-2 spy-plane’s discovery of Soviet nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba. Source: Foreign Relations of the United States 1961-1963 - Volume XI : Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath Washington, DC : Government Printing Office. The Cuban missile crisis stands as a singular event during the Cold War and strengthened Kennedy’s image domestically and internationally. Taking everything into account, “the logical argument is that we don’t really have to invade Cuba. Adapted from Martin J. Sherwin’s new book Gambling with Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis. We just have to be clear that “if they make a move we’re going to fight.” And then he added: “This blockade and political action, I see leading into war. “These brass hats have one great advantage in their favor,” President Kennedy sardonically remarked to his aide Dave Powers: “If we listen to them and do what they want us to do, none of us will be alive later to tell them that they were wrong.”. He demanded the removal of the missiles already there and the destruction of the sites. From the Archives: Conversations with Eisenhower on the Cuban Missile Crisis, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Arts and Culture in the Kennedy White House, John F. Kennedy and People with Intellectual Disabilities, November 22, 1963: Death of the President, Click here to listen to the Address in the Digital Archive, Click here to listen to the Remarks in the Digital Archive, World on the Brink: John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis. This would eliminate any threat of attack on the U.S. from Cuba. The crisis was a defining moment in the presidency of John F… . Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our, Gambling with Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Inside JFK's Decisionmaking During the Cuban Missile Crisis. take out their missiles, kill a lot of Russians and not do anything.”. They blockade for military purposes. On October 16, 1962 President John F. Kennedy received information from his National Security Advisor (NSA), McGeorge Bundy, regarding the Soviet MRBMs, or medium range ballistic missiles, placed in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the signature moment of John F. Kennedy's presidency. I don’t see any other solution for it. No ships will be allowed in or out. Due to the coronavirus public health emergency, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum will be closed through December 31, 2020 and until further notice. In language very different from his inaugural address, President Kennedy told Americans in June 1963, "For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. . This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich” (which, it was well known, had been supported by the president’s father, Joseph Kennedy, when he was American ambassador to Great Britain). Returning to a question he had asked during the initial ExComm meeting, he proposed that “we ought to think of why the Russians did this.”, It provided them with a range of new options, he explained. No other event in history offers as many relevant lessons about presidential leadership in the nuclear age as those thirteen days in October. 6. Discussions begin on how to respond to the challenge. In October 1962, the US discovered Soviet nuclear missile sites in Cuba. The blockade, he worried, will provide the Soviets with time to hide their missiles, and it will even encourage them to move against Berlin. On Monday, October 22, 1962, President Kennedy appeared on television to inform Americans of the recently discovered Soviet military buildup in Cuba including the ongoing installation of offensive nuclear missiles. . The Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1961-1962. We all cherish our children's future. Click here to listen to the Remarks in the Digital Archive (JFKWHA-143-004). The next day, President Kennedy secretly convened an emergency meeting of his senior military, political, and diplomatic advisers to discuss the ominous development. We all breathe the same air. “Let me just say a little, first, about what the problem is, from my point of view,” President Kennedy interrupted. As long as Castro was supported by the Soviet Union, a military assault was the only good option, they believed. Had the president not insisted on a blockade, had he accepted the Chief’s recommendations (also favored by the majority of his ExComm advisers, he unwittingly would have precipitated a nuclear war. An American spy plane eventually discovered the existence of missile sites off the coast of Cuba, sparking what would come to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy with his cabinet during the Cuban Missile Crisis Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev saw an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro ’s Cuba and make good its promise to defend Cuba from the United States. . October 16, 1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum The thirteen days marking the most dangerous period of the Cuban missile crisis begin. move away from us. And they were wrong. “They came to that conclusion in March 1960 and conveyed it repeatedly thereafter to their civilian superiors.” They insisted that a Communist Cuba threatened the security of the Western Hemisphere, and they assured the commander in chief that it was possible to depose Castro “without precipitating a general war, and without serious effect on world opinion.”. . The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war. Aerial reconnaissance photos of Mariel Naval port, Cuba, and vicinity, taken 4 November 1962, showing missiles and support equipment being prepared for removal from Cuba. Sherwin, George Mason University Professor of History, is the author of. And to be certain that LeMay got his point, he added: “Personally!”, Despite their mutual interest in deposing Fidel Castro’s communist government, the chiefs’ and the president viewed the crisis differently. It was a tortured decision. Cuban missile crisis, major confrontation at the height of the Cold War that brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of a shooting war in October 1962 over the presence of Soviet nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba. * By Jaime Suchlicki United Nations during the Cuban missile crisis In 1962, the Soviet Union surreptitiously introduced nuclear missiles into Cuba. U.S. President John F. Kennedy speaks before reporters during a televised speech to the nation about the strategic blockade of Cuba, and his warning to the Soviet Union about missile sanctions, during the Cuban missile crisis, on October 24, 1962 in Washington, DC. The John F. Kennedy library and museum Cuban Missile Crisis page. President Kennedy did not want the Soviet Union and Cuba to know that he had discovered the missiles. At 9 A.M., McGeorge Bundy, his National Security Adviser, informed him that a U-2 reconnaissance mission over Cuba had photographed Soviet medium range ballistic missiles, nuclear capable weapons with a range of 1,200 miles. On October 22, President Kennedy spoke to the nation about the crisis in a televised address. But the leaders of both superpowers recognized the devastating possibility of a nuclear war and publicly agreed to a deal in which the Soviets would dismantle the weapon sites in exchange for a pledge from the United States not to invade Cuba. . . This is the Cuban Missile Crisis finally explained. [It’s] just one of the difficulties that we live with in life, like we live with the Soviet Union and China.”, The major argument for forcing the removal of the missiles from Cuba “is the political effect [they will have] on United States [prestige].” An invasion may be the most thorough solution, but “a lot of people [will] . People watching President John F. Kennedy's TV announcement of Cuban blockade during the missile crisis in a department store in California on Oct.22, 1962. Cuban Missile Crisis. Otherwise, our answer would be quite easy.”. “I think that a blockade and political talk would be considered by a lot of our friends and neutrals as being a pretty weak response to this. The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962 (Spanish: Crisis de Octubre), the Caribbean Crisis (Russian: Карибский кризис, tr. For thirteen days in October 1962 the world waited—seemingly on the brink of nuclear war—and hoped for a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis. “You’re in there with me,” the president shot back. But a week later, on Monday evening, October 22nd, he announced his decision to “quarantine” (blockade) Cuba as the first move to force Khrushchev to withdraw his missiles. . The three Soviet freighters in the center photo are Divnogorsk at left, Metallurg Anosov at top center, and Bratsk at right, at end of pier. The Cuban Missile Crisis, a tense 13-day standoff between the US and the Soviet Union over the placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba, took place in October 1962. A P2V Neptune U.S. patrol plane flies over a Soviet freighter during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. In October 1962, an American U-2 spy plane secretly photographed nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union on the island of Cuba. And we are all mortal. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a pivotal moment in the Cold War. On October 16, 1962, a 13-day Cold War-era crisis began when U.S. President John F. Kennedy was notified of Russian nuclear ballistic missiles discovered in Cuba, in what came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cuban Missile Crisis (The Cold War) by Peter Chrisp (Hodder Wayland, 2001) An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 by Robert Dallek (Little, Brown, to … Two actions also signaled a warming in relations between the superpowers: the establishment of a teletype "Hotline" between the Kremlin and the White House and the signing of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty on July 25, 1963. Of course “we’ve got to do something,” he conceded, because doing nothing will not make the Berlin problem go away. The chiefs’ objective was to be in the best position to fight a war, while the president’s aim was to select the strategy that was least likely to start a war. They will not respond, LeMay assured him. How he reached this conclusion is revealed in a secret recording of a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff [JCS] on the fourth morning of the crisis. What is known as the Cuban Missile Crisis actually began on October 15, 1962the day that U.S. intelligence personnel analyzing U-2 spy plane data discovered that the Soviets were building medium-range missile sites in Cuba. All Rights Reserved. In 1963, there were signs of a lessening of tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. “The argument for the blockade,” he told the Chiefs, “was that what we want to do is to avoid, if we can, nuclear war by escalation or imbalance. 21 hours ago. Click here to listen to the Address in the Digital Archive (JFKWHA-142-001). The Cuban Missile Crisis has been called the crowning victory of John F. Kennedy's presidency, but less favorable parts of the story have been kept under wraps for decades. Day 7, Cuban Missile Crisis …Moreover, the Congress [Organization of American States] adopted a resolution expressing its support of this declared policy.Despite this, the rapid development of long-range missile bases and other offensive weapons systems in Cuba has proceeded. That “leaves me only one alternative, which is to fire nuclear weapons—which is a hell of an alternative.”, To complicate the situation further, he continued, “our blockade of Cuba will give Khrushchev an excuse to blockade [West] Berlin, which will infuriate our allies. Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral George Anderson, Army Chief of Staff Earle Wheeler and Marine Corp Commandant David Shoup backed LeMay. Meeting that morning with fourteen handpicked advisers—known to history as the ExComm—Kennedy agreed that the missiles would have to be bombed and Cuba invaded. As the defining and most desperate event of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis helped to improve the world’s negative opinion of the United States after its failed Bay of Pigs invasion and strengthened President Kennedy’s overall image at home and abroad. In a separate deal, which remained secret for more than twenty-five years, the United States also agreed to remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey. Published by Knopf. Both assumptions were plausible, and perhaps the Soviets would not have responded militarily. No one was sure how Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev would respond to the naval blockade and US demands. President John F. Kennedy - Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 On October 16, 1962, President John F. Kennedy was shown photographs of Soviet nuclear missile installations under construction in Cuba. “If we allow their missiles to remain, they have offended our prestige, and are in a position to pressure us. Karibsky krizis, IPA: [kɐˈrʲipskʲɪj ˈkrʲizʲɪs]), or the Missile Scare, was a 1 month, 4 days (16 October – 20 November, 1962) confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. . ", Visit our online exhibit: World on the Brink: John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis. This high-quality version of President Kennedy's 10/22/62 Cuban Missile Crisis speech is somewhat rare, because it is complete and unedited. We will be blamed for jeopardizing the city because we overreacted. Two other important results of the crisis came in unique forms. President John F. Kennedy demanded that all nuclear missiles be removed from Cuba and blockaded the island to prevent further deliveries of nuclear warheads. Lemay repeated his thinking and its crude mimicking of United States and the Soviet Union stood closer to than! Deceived him and brought Fidel Castro to power confrontation is often considered closest... 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