bmacleod From Canada, joined Aug 2001, 2461 posts, RR: 0 Posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2545 times:
Off topic from US election and NHL Lockout, but this month is the 50 year anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. One has to wonder with all that's happened since then; USSR collapses, Cuba becoming more America-friendly, it could have gone completely different.
Its good to read the books about the missle crisis, or at least watch some of the movies. It turns out nuclear armageddon was on the table and the people deciding our fate were not entirely top-notch....They held exactly the same kind of inane meetings I've sat through over the years where half the people in attendance are irrational, incompetent or not really paying attention. Through some miracle calmer heads prevailed...
If Obama wins I wonder if he will do some of the things you can't do if you're up for re-election, like open up Cuba for full American tourism and business ventures?..... I am pretty sure if Romeny wins he will march with the rabid anti-Castro group in South Florida and let them decide Cuban policy.
ltbewr From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13318 posts, RR: 16
Reply 3, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 2426 times:
I turned 8 years old when this happened. The closest a similar fear of the world ending might be in the hours and days after 9/11. I was in Catholic School, we prayed every day that the 'God-hating Communists' would come to their senses and 'God fearing Americans' would win. was old enough and interested in the news of the times so was well aware of this crises. Of course deals were done we didn't find out until many years later of where we removed nuke missiles in Turkey in return for the USSR not putting missiles in Cuba. The relief of the end of this crises was seen that the USA was right, we flexed our power, and the USSR had to back down. Sadly we are still in a diplomatic stalemate with Cuba in part solidified by this crises, Fidel Castro is still alive and still has some power control and the USSR died over 20 years ago.
Aesma From Reunion, joined Nov 2009, 7355 posts, RR: 13
Reply 5, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2408 times:
Quoting pu (Reply 1): If Obama wins I wonder if he will do some of the things you can't do if you're up for re-election, like open up Cuba for full American tourism and business ventures?..... I am pretty sure if Romeny wins he will march with the rabid anti-Castro group in South Florida and let them decide Cuban policy.
Obama can't open Cuba. What he can do is do away with the sanctions. Then it's up to Cuba to open itself.
New Technology is the name we give to stuff that doesn't work yet. Douglas Adams
pvjin From Finland, joined Mar 2012, 1711 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2380 times:
And Cuba is already opening up and changing their system, small scale private entrepreneurship is already allowed, such as small restaurants and people are now allowed to have more and newer cars.
Really it's completely up to US government now, they are the ones keeping Cuba isolated from them with their embargo, Cubans would welcome all American tourists and trade. I hope Obama would stay in power and end this nonsense, Republicans sure won't.
MD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14381 posts, RR: 62
Reply 7, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 2363 times:
The scariest thing is that back then both supreme commanders (Kennedy and Khrustchev) temporarely lost connection to their military commanders in thev firld, who started on their own to get ready for nuclear war. In Cuba the local Soviet general had the rockets armed and made ready because, under the premisse of "use them or lose them" he wanted to launch them before a possible American counterstrike, and similarly the commander of the Strategic Air Command of the USAF was itching for a fight as well. Also, a russian submarine commander came close to launch missiles after he lost contact with his headquarters in Russia and assumed that it had been destroyed.
pu From Sweden, joined Dec 2011, 855 posts, RR: 14
Reply 8, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2339 times:
The Missile Crisis was in 1962. But only the previous year JFK was confronted with those pushing for war over Cuba via the Bay of Pigs invasion:
"Now, in retrospect, I know damn well that they [the Pentagon and the CIA] didn't have any intention of giving me the straight word on this thing [the Bay of Pigs operation]. They just thought that if we got involved in the thing, that I would have to say 'Go ahead, you can throw all our forces in there, and just move into Cuba.' ... Well, from now on it's John Kennedy that makes the decisions as to whether or not we're going to do these things."
Richard Reeves, President Kennedy: Profile of Power
How often presidents get pressured into war by their military and foreign policy "experts"...
Mortyman From Norway, joined Aug 2006, 4208 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 2292 times:
The Cuban missile crisis was severe, but gave the US and the world time to prepare. The Norwegian rocket incident, also known as the Black Brant scare, occurred on January 25, 1995 and is considered just as severe if not more as no one was prepared for that one.
This event resulted in a full alert being passed up through the military chain of command all the way to President Boris Yeltsin, who was notified immediately and the "nuclear briefcase" (known in Russia as Cheget) used to authorize nuclear launch was automatically activated. President Boris Yeltsin activated his "nuclear keys" for the first time. No warning was issued to the Russian populace of any incident; it was reported in the news a week afterward.
As a result of the alert, Russian submarine commanders were ordered to go into a state of combat readiness and prepare for nuclear retaliation.
After a while, Russian observers were able to determine that the rocket was heading away from Russian airspace and was not a threat. The rocket fell to earth as planned, near Spitsbergen, 24 minutes after launch.
The Norwegian rocket incident was the first and only incident where any nuclear weapons state had its nuclear suitcases activated and prepared for launching an attack.
txjim From United States of America, joined May 2008, 250 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 2234 times:
Quoting ltbewr (Reply 3): I turned 8 years old when this happened. The closest a similar fear of the world ending might be in the hours and days after 9/11.
I'm about the same age but don't have strong memories of the event which is surprising because:
- My family was living on a Navy base in Puerto Rico during the incident
- I did not know it at the time, but my father was an Electronics Surveillance officer who spent several days a week in Guantanamo bay (I do seem to remember him being gone for a day or two at a time)
- Several years after his death, I learned that he was one of the first Americans to learn of the missile sites. Damn! Sure wish I could have talked to him about it. Doubt if he would have said much.
MD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 14381 posts, RR: 62
Reply 11, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 2201 times:
Quoting Mortyman (Reply 9): The Norwegian rocket incident was the first and only incident where any nuclear weapons state had its nuclear suitcases activated and prepared for launching an attack.
AFAIK, they didn´t have the elaborate "nuclear briefcase" system back in the early 60s, it only came up BECAUSE of the almost war during the crisis (same as the direct telex line between the Kreml and the White House).
The problem during the Cuba crisis was that on both sides some generals were acting independently of their political commanders. Also, don´t forget that Fidel Castro was deliberately urging Khrustchev to use the Soviet missiles in a pre-emptive strike to prevent an American invasion of Cuba.
At the same time there was a massive political crisis in Germany. Parts of the conservative ggovernment under Adenauer, and especially minister of defence, Strauss, were trying to get nukes for the new Bundeswehr. At this time the NATO doctrine was to slow down the possibly Soviet invasion with conventional means and only escalate to nuclear weapons if there was no other choice. Strauss on one hand knew that he couldn´t fullfill Western Germany´s NATO commitment of providing a certain number of divisions, both due to financial constraints and due to internal political reasons (WW2 was only 17 years over and the new Bundeswehr existed only for 7 years at this time and it was still very much a debate if Germany should become pacifist). His supporters in the German military developed a new doctrine calling for a pre-emptive strike on Warsaw pact units with tactical nuclear weapons (especially the Davy Crockett and Honest John missles) if it would just LOOK as if the Soviets could invade. For him each Davy Crockett missile was the equivalent of 5000 solodiers and therefore much cheaper. I also think that his longterm plan was to establish Western Germany as an independent nuclear power besides (at this time) the US, the Soviet Union, the UK and France. You can imagine how well this idea would have gone down with the other European and NATO countries, 17 years after WW2.
Some Bundeswehr officers, who didn´t agree with this deviation from NATO doctrine, and who wanted to keep Germany within NATO, leaked these plans to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, together with a devastating comment by referees after the NATO exercise FALLEX 62, in which Western Germany´s lack of conventional capability was heavily critizised.
Strauss, bypassing the constitutional course of justice, had the whole leading redactional staff of this magazine plus several Bundeswehr officers arrested for treason and even had his main opponent, the at this time Hamburh state minister of the interior (and later chancellor) Helmut Schmidt chaged with the same crime. He was especially hard on the Spiegel because a few months before they had exposed a corruption affair within his own party, in which he was involved.
The whole thing came known in Germany as the "Spiegel Scandal". Thousands of people of all political directions went to the streets to protest against the attack against the freedom of press, in a way never seen before in Germany.
A few months later all people charged in the affair were aquitted by the criminal courts, Strauss was forced out of office and Adenauer´s government was badly shaken. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiegel_scandal
ronglimeng From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 626 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 2186 times:
Wow, Fifty Years !
I had just entered high school and was thoroughly enjoying everything about Grade 9. When the crisis started I thought that all that would come to an end. I remember asking Mom what we would do for a fall-out shelter. She said "I guess we'll get into the fruit cellar".
When the crisis eased I don't remember a hell of a lot of people crowing that we went toe-to-toe with the Ruskies and they backed down. It was mostly one long sigh of relief that the world would go on.
DeltaMD90 From United States of America, joined Apr 2008, 8176 posts, RR: 51
Reply 13, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 2180 times:
I was about negative 30 years old, so I obviously wasn't there... I know hindsight is 20/20, but at the time, was this whole situation (not just the CMC but dealing with the Soviets in general) really smart and popular, or was it just unnecessary brinkmanship? (again, not looking back at it but the general consensus at the time)
L-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29903 posts, RR: 58
Reply 14, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 2125 times:
I have to put a plug in for the movie Thirteen Days. They used a lot of the recorded audio tapes from the white house for writing the script, literally transcribing entire conversations between JFK and his cabinet and a lot if restored archival film from the period of events and people happening at the time.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
Of course it doesn't offer supernatural characters, fantasy worlds, hobbits, etc. so not everyone will like it.
Criticism from the right: too much JFK-hero-worship that downplays the threat of communism
Criticism from the left: too much military storyline that exaggerates the threat to America
PSA53 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3102 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2036 times:
I can give a scary thought,as I had lived it.
One day in school in Monterey Park,CA,a loud thunder interrupted our class.The teacher called for order but everyone ran outside to see what was all the commotion.The noise got louder and then it came into view.It was tanks and all type of army vehicles and personal moving down Garvey ave.As kids,you we're excited and trilled at the awesome display of hardware not knowing seriousness at hand.
There were always loud air raid drills before in which the students got under the desk so we could survive a nuclear strike but nothing like this.(lol)
Growing up and learning about the Cuban missile crisis makes me thankful to Kennedy for calling Khrushchev's poker hand while keeping the military at bay.We did give away the Turkish missiles but a small price.
Quoting L-188 (Reply 14):
I have to put a plug in for the movie Thirteen Days
I'm going to put in a word i for JFK here, forget his personal habits, this was stuff that really mattered.
The Bay Of Pigs left him with the feeling that some of his military and CIA advisers were full of BS.
He had enough experience of combat to know that things go wrong, to expect the unexpected.
He had recently been fascinated by the book 'The Guns Of August', how a series of mistakes, misunderstandings, had led to WW1.
He was curious enough to, this being the very important, try to put himself into his opponents head.
He has the balls to not accept the consensus in his Cabinet, which favoured an attack.
Not long after being President, JFK found out, with the brand new satellite technology, that the 'Missile Gap' was nonsense. The USSR had very few ICBM's, both sides then had liquid fuelled, often above ground stored, missiles but the Soviet weapons took even longer, much longer, to prepare for launch than US ones.
At the time of Cuba, the US enjoyed a 17-1 advantage in nuclear weapons they could hit the USSR with. A much larger bomber force with huge geographical advantages, the new SSBN's dramatically superior to the Soviet force, more ICBM's, all those weapons in Europe.
The Soviets only real strength was in short/medium range missiles, which could hit the US.....unless.
JFK was surprised to find that the Jupiter missiles in Turkey, of which he had ordered the deactivation of, had not yet been withdrawn. The brand new Polaris subs, when deployed in European waters, made them obsolete, Polaris was safer, less destabilizing.
The Jupiter's were nearer to Soviet territory than Cuba was to the US, thus giving Kruschev his excuse for Cuban missiles.
It also figured that Kruschev was under local political pressure, all his boasts about churning out ICBM's 'like sausages' was a sham. The missiles on Cuba were a reflection of both his military weakness and political problems within the Politburo.
But for all that, the USSR had raised the stakes with missiles on Cuba, it fitted with the aggressive posture of Kruschev.
It maybe was a double standard to be so opposed to the USSR doing in Cuba what the US had done in Europe, even so, politically those missiles had to go.
But to risk a thermo-nuclear confrontation over them?
The likes of LeMay gagging to bomb them, to follow up with attacking the USSR.
Doing so would have totally destroyed the USSR, however some major US targets would have been hit too, some Soviet bombers would have got through. Or stand off missiles fired by them.
Having to surface to fire some crude, clumsy SLBM's compared badly to a Polaris but those on the receiving end to a Soviet SLBM warhead would not have cared.
These targets most likely being some of the main metropolitan areas of the US and Canada.
The effects of all this would have been vast and global, national boundaries would not be respected by vast amounts of radioactive fallout spreading around the world, a destroyed Ozone Layer, a likely 'nuclear winter'.
Europe too would have been destroyed by all those short to medium ranged systems on both sides.
Worse, not only did the USSR put shorter ranged, truck mounted FROG missiles on Cuba, suspected but undetected even by the major US recon effort over the island, we now know that they also had cruise missiles too. Hidden, ready to fire, nuke tipped. Only revealed as ever being there 30 years later.
(Only after the cold War did we also learn that there had been many more Soviet troops in Cuba than assessed at the time, including a crack mechanised brigade).
The cruise weapon was rather primitive, like a pilot-less Mig-15, again little consolation if you are anywhere one when it hits, be it Gitmo, US Marines landing on a Cuban beach or bases/cities in Southern Florida.
These and the FROG crews had explicit orders, if the US attacks Cuba, including by a conventional invasion, deploy and fire.
And these crews would probably see a conventional air strike, even if only directed at the missile and SAM sites, as a prelude to an invasion.
The very same limited air strike that JFK came under such great pressure to authorise.
It took great strength of character to resist all the siren calls for an air strike, including from some he liked and trusted.
To see the bigger picture, to put oneself in the head of your opponent. A part of him must have been sympathetic to the air-strike option too.
That's why JFK should be applauded for the way he handled the missile crisis.
pu From Sweden, joined Dec 2011, 855 posts, RR: 14
Reply 19, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 1942 times:
Quoting GDB (Reply 18): At the time of Cuba, the US enjoyed a 17-1 advantage in nuclear weapons they could hit the USSR with.
Good point and very nice post, thanks! Wasn't the "missle gap" oddly a PR tool for both sides?
My father was in the USSR quite a bit from the 1950s through the 1980s, working on industrial engineering projects often comically advertised as "peaceful civilian purposes".... and said the toilets didn't flush in the finest hotel in Moscow, the lifts didn't work in the Kremlin and that most mechanical problems were dealt with by discarding the malfunctioning device rather than any attempts at repair. His modestly imformed opinion is that the Soviets would be lucky to get 10% of their missles off in any conflcit.