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The Cuban Missile Crisis

October 18, 2012 by  

On Oct. 15, 1962, U.S. intelligence workers analyzing photos taken by a U-2 spy plane discovered that the Soviet Union was building medium-range missile sites in Cuba. Seven days later, President John F. Kennedy gave a televised address to announce the discovery to Americans and to proclaim that he was ordering a naval “quarantine” of Cuba to prevent Soviet ships from transporting offensive weapons to the islands. The President made it clear that America would not stop short of military action to end what he called a “clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace.”

For the next 13 days, Americans believed that nuclear war with the Soviet Union–a war that would leave major U.S. cities like Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles incinerated–was about to break out any second.

The discovery of missile sites was actually the culmination of a dance that had been taking place for some time between the Soviets–who apparently had been itching to get the U.S. to “discover” the sites–and the Americans–who, despite reports by Cuban defectors and U.S. intelligence that the Soviets were up to something–had forbade U-2 planes from flying over and photographing the western part of Cuba for weeks.

For days, Kennedy was pushed hard by the Joint Chiefs and the CIA to invade Cuba. Declassified documents and audio recordings Kennedy secretly had made of Oval Office conversations reveal that the U.S. may have been much closer to a military coup than nuclear war sparked by the Soviets.

The Joint Chiefs and the CIA had been quite unhappy with Kennedy since the Bay of Pigs debacle. Eager to eliminate the threat of a Soviet stronghold so close to the U.S., the Joint Chiefs had proposed a plan in 1962 called Operation Northwoods which called for setting off false flag events that could be blamed on Cuba. In addition to staging attacks on the U.S. base at Guantanamo with the use of friendly Cubans in uniform setting off explosives in and around the base, Operation Northwoods suggested the development of a Communist Cuban terror campaign in Miami, sinking a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida, and blowing up a planeload of American college students over Cuba.

But Kennedy rejected the plan outright and eventually fired Joint Chiefs Chairman General  Lyman Lemnitzer when he wouldn’t  stop advocating for a Cuban invasion.

During the height of the missile crisis, Marine Corps Commandant General David Shoup and Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay were recorded badmouthing Kennedy after he and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara had left the room.

But LeMay wasn’t afraid to confront Kennedy to his face. In the book Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, David Talbott writes:

 [LeMay] decided to violate traditional military-civilian boundaries and issue a barely veiled political threat. If the president responded weakly to the Soviet challenge in Cuba, he warned him, there would be political repercussions overseas, where Kennedy’s government would be perceived as spineless. “And I’m sure a lot of our own citizens would feel that way too,” LeMay added. With his close ties to militaristic congressional leaders and the far right, LeMay left no doubt about the political damage he could cause the administration. “In other words, you’re in a pretty bad fix at the present time,” he told Kennedy.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy conducted backchannel negotiations with the Soviet leadership that eventually ended the crisis. The Soviets agreed to dismantle the missiles and all offensive weapons in Cuba in exchange for an American promise not to invade the island and that U.S. missiles would be removed from Turkey.

In his memoirs, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev wrote that a Soviet fear that the U.S. military was about to stage a coup against President Kennedy–which was confirmed by Robert Kennedy during their backchannel conversations—led to the Soviets to agree to end the conflict.

“We could sense from the tone of the message that tension in the United States was indeed reaching a critical point,” Khrushchev wrote.

Many believe that Kennedy’s stands against the CIA and Pentagon over three events—the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the buildup in Vietnam—led to his assassination at the hands of the CIA.

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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  • GALT

    The Dark Legacy

    Will be somewhat curious to see O’Reilly and Dugard’s take in “Killing Kennedy”.

  • Chester

    Now WHY does that quote from General LeMay sound so familiar? Seems like I have been hearing similar words on here about the current administration almost since the day Obama took office.

  • Dan Mancuso

    The most comprehensive and believable book I’ve read on WHY JFK was assassinated was by Michael Collins-Piper, called, I think, “The Final Solution”. Of course he was demonized with the anti-Semite label.
    “The High Priests of War” was also a very good read, on the ex-Trotskiite-Neocons in GWBush’s cabinet. I would be interested however to know which candidate Mr. Collins-Piper is supporting in this election, if any.

  • 1xgi

    I was at fort Gordon GA. when Kennedy put us on alert status. I was attached to a stac (strategic air command) unit that was on maneuvers in Texas. I was part of the skeleton crew that was left behind in Ga. at that time. When the order came down the whole unit returned to Ga. and were stac ready to invade Cuba. It was a touch an go situation, we knew that the bay of pigs deal was a failure, and we were not going to be another b.o.p. we were going to sink the whole island. Well you know that the military has never gone into a battle with the thought they were going to get beat. Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane wasn’t my idea of a good time but would have done so. This was a group of paratroopers, they meant to take Cuba, it was our plan to capture or kill Castro and anyone else that resisted. Kennedy was strong enough in his stance that the Russian began to pull out and the United States owes him real time respect for the way he handled that conflict. his assignation still makes me sad, sad that anyone could get away with such a terrible dead. It wasn’t just Oswald. GOD BLESS AMERICA

  • Fanman

    Well… probably WAS just Oswald. But, it was very sad.
    Interestingly, I had just enlisted in the USAF when the Missile Crisis hit. As a rookie, I was never going to be used for any purpose in this affair, but I was an observer. In Spring 1983, I reached my duty station in Europe….to find the barracks mostly empty. Our teams were technicians, and everyone was in Turkey. Long after they returned, someone leaked that they had been in Turkey to remove our missiles and associated equipment. The US had already floated the story that the Jupiters IRBMs were being removed – on schedule – because ICBMs located in the US eliminated the need for the IRBMs.
    I think the deal with the Russians was that the full story would not be told for 25 years.
    In the end, Khrushchev got what he wanted – no missiles on his doorstep in Turkey – by dangerously placing missiles on OUR doorstep! LeMay never forgot Pearl Harbor, and he came to believe that we would ultimately have to fight the Russians, so why not do it while we had the upper hand in nuclear delivery systems. History now confirms that the known strength of LeMay and the “Attack Them Now!” faction gave Robert Kennedy a unique bargaining chip for dealing with Khrushchev.
    Thank you, Jack and Robert Kennedy for keeping the peace together. They showed the right level of resolve without going over the cliff.


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