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On The Brink Of Nuclear War

October 20, 2011 by  

Forty-nine years ago, the United States and the USSR stood on the brink of a full-scale nuclear war. The Cuban Missile Crisis was coming to a head.

After intelligence analysts reviewing surveillance photographs spotted medium-range missile sites being constructed in Cuba, President John F. Kennedy convened a group of his closest advisers at the White House on Oct. 16, 1962 to discuss a response. According to an article on George Washington University’s National Security Archives website, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara outlined three possible responses:

  • Political: Approach Cuban President Fidel Castro, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and U.S. allies and try to defuse the situation diplomatically.
  • Pressure: Openly declaring increased surveillance and a blockade against offensive weapons entering Cuba.
  • Military: An attack on Cuba beginning with an air attack against the missile sites.

But McNamara cautioned Kennedy that the last option could result in “nuclear escalation.”

“I don’t believe we have considered the consequences,” McNamara said. “I don’t know what kind of a world we live in after we’ve struck Cuba, and we, we’ve started it…  How, how do we stop it at that point?”

On Oct. 22, 1962, Kennedy went on national television and announced his decision to “quarantine” Cuba with a naval blockade and demand the bases be dismantled and the missiles removed.

For the next six days the nations faced off, teetering on the brink of nuclear conflagration. And although there was great angst over the situation at the time, the nations were even closer to war than most people realized.

U.S. documents declassified in 1989 and more documents released after the collapse of the Soviet Union show that U.S. officials mistook a number of Soviet political and military actions as deliberate “signals” from the Kremlin when, in fact, Khrushchev had not cleared them. And the White House was unaware that CIA and military officials had begun threatening operations, including dispatching covert sabotage teams into Cuba.

“This combination of unauthorized military and covert actions, misinterpreted military and political signals, and significant failures in intelligence—all of which threatened to set a war in motion—not only challenges earlier depictions of this event as a model of a ‘controlled crisis’ but calls into question the fundamental assumption that severe international crises can, in fact, be ‘managed’ at all,” states the GWU article.

On Oct. 28, Khrushchev announced his government’s intent to dismantle and remove all offensive Soviet weapons in Cuba, confirming acceptance of discussions from previous days in which the United States verbally agreed to abandon any plans to invade Cuba and remove missiles from Turkey. That afternoon, workers began dismantling the Cuban missile sites.

In the public’s mind, the crisis had been defused, and there was a collective sigh of relief. But there is much more to the story.

Declassified documents show the crisis has its roots in the 1959 deployment of Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Italy, which the Russians viewed as a provocation. Those documents also lend credence to Khrushchev’s claim that the primary Soviet motivation was to protect Cuba from a U.S. invasion.

There was a secret plan, termed Operation Mongoose, that included sabotage, infiltration and psychological warfare activities with military exercises and contingency operations for a possible invasion to overthrow the Castro government that was tacitly approved by Kennedy in March 1962. Then there’s the fact that Kennedy never officially “formalize(d) through the U.N.” a noninvasion pledge, despite repeated requests by Khrushchev.

Conventional wisdom holds that the crisis ended as a “win” for the United States. But the USSR embarked on a massive nuclear buildup, finally reaching parity with the United States in the 1970s with the deployment of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching anywhere in the United States.


Bob Livingston

is an ultra-conservative American and author of The Bob Livingston Letter™, founded in 1969. Bob has devoted much of his life to research and the quest for truth on a variety of subjects. Bob specializes in health issues such as nutritional supplements and alternatives to drugs, as well as issues of privacy (both personal and financial), asset protection and the preservation of freedom.

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  • Sam I am

    If nuclear weapons don’t kill us, nuclear power plants will. Just look at how much damage will be wrought from Fukishima. Its not unreasonable to see Tokyo effectively completely dismantled and reduced to less than Detroit in a few years. This is from one power plant complex. If/when we expierence a a solar storm of biblical porportions like the one that shut down all telegraph lines in 1859 or a massive financial / social collapse with attendant hyper inflation, we could have hundreds of nuclear power plants melting down at the same time.

  • John

    ….I think WW3 began with 9/11 and will be a series of multiple conflicts across flashpoints all over the world… (starting with 9/11). The general civilian populace will not even suspect that they are in the midst of a world war. It will be something like war in slow motion spanning several decades. Perhaps only when the superpowers like China and Russia get involved militarily will we ever confirm that WW3 is taking place….and when they do, things will get ugly.

    Yes, till then there will be false flags, spectacular events that will cost the lives of thousands…etc. Sadly, there is not much anyone can do to prevent this.
    Perhaps, we can expect to see another major event, whether real or false flag, and after that … humankind will be be on its way to all-out war on a global scale.

  • AugieD

    Operation Northwoods was also on the verge of being a reality in 1962. The knowledge to be gained from these “near events” is that the C.I.A. and their clandestine partners will go to any length to get what they want. Even kill American civilians or start a war if it is deemed necessary.

    Gaddafi is now dead. He prophesied his own death and the demise of his country at the hands of the U.S. Government during his speech at the U.N. Sept. 2009. News anchors made fun of him, they called him “crazy”! He knew he was next on the Hit List after Afghanistan and Iraq. Now who’s crazy?

    We face an ever more dangerous world due to the financiers of war. George W. Bush said, “Only countries that thrive on hate, build Weapons of Mass Destruction” Unfortunately, he is correct. The U.S. holds the worlds largest collection of W.M.D’s.

    The world economy has been destabilized in the same manner as the (U.S.) Real Estate – Stock Market – Insurance – Bank failure of 2008. If the U.S. was “Too Big To Fail”, by doing so, we take down the world. The U.S. controllers assume they have enough “fire power” to block any potential threats, while they seat themselves into a position as “World Kings”. Basically Trilaterals on Steroids.

    We will soon see, One World Money, One World Government, and finally…One World Religion. Then we will finally see “One World Completely Destroyed” along with about 6 billion people.

    Only by the hope of faith, will some see the final solution, and walk out of this tribulation into a Paradise. May God protect you, because the Government wont!


    And not one mention of the “October Crisis”! Let’s see, over the ‘six days’, the US launched 625 of it’s B 52s (w/2-4 H-Bombs each), of the 1300 available, and headed for Russia, activated the bombs and called Kruschchev, who immediately laid down the missles. We then returned the B52s to their bases. Otherwise, Russia would have been incenerated! I was serving in a nuclear Army Division at the time.

  • Kevin

    Just to recap: a Democrat stares down the Soviets and made them blink. A Democrat got the mass murderer that a Republicon let go free. And the GOP says Dems are weak on national security. When will the Right ever be right?

  • Chuck

    Kevin (Comrade),

    Just to recap: Killing terrorists, while comforting… can create unintended consequences. Basically terrorist leaders are like a Hydra, cut one head off and 2 more (usually worse) rise up. Not to mention you make martyr’s out of those killed. Now, let’s delve into this a bit deeper: A democrat got the mass murderer that a Republican let go free???? Clinton had Bin Laden and let him go, and the policies initiated by Bush (which Obama has ridiculed) made his capture and subsequent death possible. Not to mention that the current administration went OUT OF THEIR WAY to give the “mass murderer” a traditional muslim funeral at sea. Let’s talk about Gadhafi: The rebels got him, not U.S. or NATO forces. About the only death that the Obama administration is fully responsible for is that of the U.S. economy. I am so sick of you drones who blindly follow this administration regardless of their total incompetence. WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

  • Cep

    I’ll go along with you on that Chuck.But about the main issue.Alot of people don’t know we traded a missle base in Turkey too for the missles in Cuba,Lets face it,there were alot of scared people,including President Kennedy.

  • Bill wright

    Had we listen to Gen.Patton, we wouldn’t have had a cold war,korean,or vietnam war.Because the russians would’ve had their asses kicked.But thats what we get for not finishing World War 2.And we sure as hell wouldn’t have a Cuban Crisis either.


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