|Quoting L-188 (Reply 14):|
I have to put a plug in for the movie Thirteen Days.
And another one.
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.
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surprised to find that the Jupiter missiles in Turkey, of which he had ordered the deactivation of, had not yet been withdrawn.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.