Monday, April 17, 2006

1961-1963 Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath

1961-1963 Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath - This site contains an extensive collection of U.S. government documents from the period, including list of key players, glossary of abbreviations, and sources.

The CIA has an article about this event as well. It is Soviet Deception inthe Cuban Missile Crisis and it was written by James H. Hansen.

Here are some additional primary documents relating to the Cuban Missile Crisis: 1. Address by President Kennedy, October 22, 1962 , 2. White House Statement on Continuation of Missile Build-up in Cuba, October 26, 1962, 3. Second Letter from Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy, October 26, 1962 , 4. President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev, October 27, 1962, 5. White House Statement, October 27, 1962 , 6. Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy, October 28, 1962, 7. Statement by President Kennedy on Receipt of Chairman Khrushchev's Letter, October 28, 1962, 8. President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev, October 28, 1962, 9. Address by President Kennedy on Cuba, November 2, 1962, 10. President Kennedy's Statement on Cuba, November 20, 1962

Of note, Wikipedia claims that Russians refer to the event as the "Caribbean Crisis," while Cubans refer to it as the "October Crisis." Various commentators (Melman, 1988; Hersh, 1997) also suggest that the Cuban Missile Crisis enhanced the hubris of American military planners, leading to military adventurism, most decidedly in Vietnam.

It is hard to believe how close the world came to nuclear war in 1961. My hunch is that President Kennedy would have invaded Cuba if Khrushchev had not backed down. How different would the world be now if you want to play the alternative history game?

1 comment:

Jennie W said...

In the introduction to Thirteen Days (written by Robet Kennedy about the CMC), Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. wrote how he didn't understand how dangerous the CMC was, or how close nuclear war was, until a conference in Havana in 1992. He wrote that "my belief when I went to Havana was that we had overdramatized the danger." (pg. 8). But during the conference General Anatoly Gribkov talked about Soviet deployement and said that "in the event that the communications link with Moscow might be severed, Soviet field comamnders were authorized to use tactical nukes against an American invasion." (pg. 8). Schlesinger was sitting next to Robert McNamara (Sec'y of Defense during the CMC) who "almost fell out of his chair" at this news. (pg. 9) Schlesinger went on that "the American Chiefs of Staff (not McNamara, however) had been all-out for invasion. Had their advice prevailed, as McNamara later said, nuclear war would have begun on the beaches of Cuba and might have ended in a global holocaust." (pg. 9)

Thirteen Days is definitely worth the time to read (and it is a really quick read). I have my US history students read it and write a paper on it (I actually have them write about what their thoughts/feelings/reactions would have been during the CMC after interviewing someone who remembers it).

There are a lot of great websites out there on this subject as well.