Astonishingly there are those who believe the Cuban Missile Crisis was a provocation against the US, and not, as it was, the inevitable consequence of American aggression.
Benjamin Schwatz writes,
On the first day of the crisis, October 16, when pondering Khrushchev’s motives for sending the missiles to Cuba, Kennedy made what must be one of the most staggeringly absentminded (or sarcastic) observations in the annals of American national-security policy: “Why does he put these in there, though? … It’s just as if we suddenly began to put a major number of MRBMs [medium-range ballistic missiles] in Turkey. Now that’d be goddamned dangerous, I would think.” McGeorge Bundy, the national security adviser, immediately pointed out: “Well we did it, Mr. President.”
Khrushchev was responding to:
- American Jupiter missiles in Turkey, with a range covering the expanse of the western Soviet bloc. And whose purpose it seemed, to analysts on both sides of the Wall, was a nuclear first strike
- Kennedy’s declared mission to bring the Castro regime down, with the entire CIA under his control. (As we can note with irony now, Fidel and his system outlasted both Camelot and the Cold War)
JFK got elected, in part, by outflanking Eisenhower from the jingoist right (no prizes for guessing why the former is William Clinton’s favourite preceding president). Kennedy spoke of a dangerous international Communist threat with more apocalyptic weaponry than even the Doughboys could muster. Knowing full well – and admitting such to Gore Vidal – the potential for global annihilation in 1962 was very much weighted to the West.
So to those drips who tell you Jack was a fine young man knocked off just before solving all the world’s ills, remind them of the warnings Eisenhower gave of a “military industrial complex” and how Kennedy sacrificed Vietnamese self-determination, Latin American independence, and almost Earth itself to keep that beast fed.