Monday, July 23, 2018
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By Adan Makina

Editor’s Note: Since Donald Trump assumed the Presidency of the United States on Jan 20, 2017; many believe the prestige of the office of the presidency, the position and the influence of the United States around the world has diminished. Case in point, President Trump alienated NATO member states by calling the alliance obsolete; he supported Brexit (Britain’s exit from the EU) and at the present time he is at odds with North Korea’s dictator.  President Trump’s unpredictability and inflammatory rhetoric to pressure Pyongyang has instead risked the world peace, given that North Korea is not Iraq or Afghanistan but a nuclear power. However, if we look back at history, this is not the first time the world almost came to a standstill. To draw some experience, Adan Makina takes us back to the era of Cuban missile crisis and how it was handled by President John F. Kennedy.


From its inception in 1776 when courageous and heroic American men and women proclaimed their inalienable rights to self determination from the forces of colonial England, the government and people of the United States never imagined weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) would be hauled 7,000 miles all the way from the shores of communist adversary U.S.S.R and assembled a distance spanning ninety nautical miles from Florida on the shores of modern-day Cuba.

Since the beginning of the 19th century, the United States has been the undisputed dominant power in terms of science and technology, military, politics, and economy with the exception of a time in history known as “the Cuban Missile Crisis” when John F. Kennedy’s faulty and hesitant foreign policy promoted and irritated Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to grasp his surreptitious intention in America’s backyard. Since that fateful day of October 14, 1962 when an American U-2 photoreconnaissance plane captured photographic proof of Soviet missile bases under construction in Cuba, differing views and ideas have been deciphered and written by historians, political scientists, and students of international relations as to what went wrong and why secretive Nikita Khrushchev’s ill-fated operation happened in the first place in America’s backyard without prior knowledge of the U.S. president, the U.S. intelligence services, and American public.

Nikita Khrushchev (left), Castro and JFK

Just as early seventh century C.E. Chinese rulers of the postclassical era thought the expansive Taklimakan Desert to be a natural barrier against foreign infiltrations and that also the pharaohs of Egypt saw the Sahara Desert as an obstacle for alien invaders, likewise, there was a perception in the United States that the massive Pacific and Atlantic Oceans would safeguard America from foreign aggression. The objective of this research is to uncover the pitfalls of the Kennedy administration for failing to uncover Soviet military buildup in Cuba, nondescript Nikita Khrushchev’s fantasy of ensuring Soviet longevity through justification and emulation, and Moscow’s morbid suspicion of foreigners-especially America and Americans.

Soviet Belligerence in Words and in Deeds

Right after the end of the Second World War, in words and deeds, Soviet leaders and Soviet intelligence worked exhaustively without stop ultimately aiming at inflicting significant harm to the United States, to her allies, and to her democratic values. When McCone, in his capacity as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, presented a memorandum on the Donovan Project regarding the Soviet Cuban-Missiles to JFK on October 11, 1962, “The President requested that such information be withheld at least until after elections as if the information got into the press, a new and more violent Cuban issue would be injected into the campaign and this would seriously affect his independence of action.” In his memoir, Robert F. Kennedy indicated that the president knew nothing about the Soviet missiles in Cuba, “yet several times before the missile crisis erupted, Kenneth B. Keating, a White-manned Republican senator from Rochester, New York, charged that the Soviets were putting missiles on Cuba.”[1] For example, U.S. intelligence experts failed to analyze and pre-empt the strongly-worded message from the Soviet government carried by the daily Pravda on the morning of February 19, 1962, that read in part:

“Does the U.S. government organize and direct aggression against another country accusing it of having established a social system and a state different from what the United States wanted? If the U.S. government arrogates this right to itself, it is standing on very shaky ground, because it does not…possess the military might that would permit it to dictate conditions to other countries. The U.S. political leaders should take into account that there are other countries possessing no less terrible weapons, standing guard over peace, and prepared to prevent the unloosing of a new war.”[2]

The phrase “direct aggression against another country” is in reference to the United States’ policies toward Cuba while “social system” denotes the communist system established by Fidel Castro in Cuba with help from the Soviet politburo. Khrushchev issued this echoing message as a stern warning to the United States while the administration in Washington remained oblivious and unperturbed.

Soviet Missile Assembly in Cuba

According to U.S. intelligence information gathered on the Soviet build-up in Cuba, there were two types of missiles of distinct deterrence: medium-range and intermediate range. Designed to carry nuclear warheads and capable of travelling 1,100 miles; the medium-range missiles were capable of striking Washington, DC, Mexico City and other cities in the south-eastern parts of the United States, Central America and the Caribbean area. The intermediate-range missiles had the capability to strike major cities in the western hemisphere from Hudson Bay in Canada to Lima in Peru. On the other hand, President Kennedy noted that Soviet bombers capable of carrying nuclear warheads were being “uncrated” and assembled in Cuba while Cuban air bases capable of accommodating the bombers remained under construction. [3]

Read more: The pitfalls of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Adan Makina

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