Cuban missile crisis: closer than you thought to WW III

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visagrunt
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29 Oct 2012, 11:24 am

Inuyasha wrote:
:roll:

I was pointing out that neither side was made up of religious fanatics and had a sense of self preservation. If the leader of the USSR thought he would get a ticket to paradise by killing "Infidels" (Americans), then yeah there would have been World War III.


Really? Is that what you were pointing out?

Calling the Secretary General of the UN--a man appointed with the express approval of both the United States and the Soviet Union after Dag Hammerskold's death--an idiot is hardly consistent with your thesis.

If you would behave like an intelligent adult, some of your more reasonable theses might actually merit some respect. But instead you present yourself as a juvenile and partisan commenter who cannot resist the temptation to take cheap (and unsubstantiated) shots at the things you don't like.


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Inuyasha
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29 Oct 2012, 12:41 pm

visagrunt wrote:
Inuyasha wrote:
:roll:

I was pointing out that neither side was made up of religious fanatics and had a sense of self preservation. If the leader of the USSR thought he would get a ticket to paradise by killing "Infidels" (Americans), then yeah there would have been World War III.


Really? Is that what you were pointing out?


You're only just now realizing that, it was rather blatently obvious visagrunt.

visagrunt wrote:
Calling the Secretary General of the UN--a man appointed with the express approval of both the United States and the Soviet Union after Dag Hammerskold's death--an idiot is hardly consistent with your thesis.


The UN is a rather ineffective organization, I highly doubt anything he said affected matters one way or the other. The Soviets backed down over this cause Kennedy made it quite clear Nuclear weapons in Cuba would not be tolerated.

visagrunt wrote:
If you would behave like an intelligent adult, some of your more reasonable theses might actually merit some respect. But instead you present yourself as a juvenile and partisan commenter who cannot resist the temptation to take cheap (and unsubstantiated) shots at the things you don't like.


Stop projecting your own faults onto others visagrunt.



Stone_Man
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14 Nov 2012, 3:24 pm

eric76 wrote:
I find it doubtful that the Soviet commander could have used tactical nuclear weapons on his own authority and I question the notion that if he had done so, that would have escalated into a full scale nuclear war. It might have done so, but I don't see it as the most likely outcome.


Your doubt, while understandable, is misplaced. That one of the low-level Soviet field commanders could actually have triggered WWIII is fairly well documented now, but it didn't come out until many years after the fact. It was actually revealed at a "reunion" conference of many of the principals in Havana some years later. The story goes that when the Russian speaker (whoever it was) gave the details at one of the meetings, Robert McNamara nearly fell off his chair. Even he hadn't known until that day.

Who knows what the Russian authority structure is now, but at that time it was apparently considered standard procedure for field commanders to hold nuclear first strike authority. For all our fancy intelligence capabilities, no one knew that. Yet another of the vast differences between the American and Soviet militaries.

Speaking as one who lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis, I can tell you that the world, at least the world I lived in, was scared sh*tless. At the time, I lived near a US Navy base on the East Coast, and everyone was on high alert. Leaves were cancelled. Deployments were postponed. Everyone was waiting to see what happened.

I have read Bobby Kennedy's accounts of the crisis, and while he obviously was motivated to show his brother in the best light, it's also true that he was really the only one with inside information. I tend to believe his account.

One thing that rarely gets emphasized enough about the entire crisis, in my opinion, is the extraordinary wisdom and statesmanship shown by President Kennedy. Would that all world leaders today show such wisdom.



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14 Nov 2012, 7:24 pm

Lucky for us, the American and Soviet navies instead trained their guns on the XMen and Magneto!
(That was from the movie, XMen: First Class, for the the comic bookishly uninitiated.)

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



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15 Nov 2012, 8:18 am

Yeah, and Sebastian Shaw was responsible for the missiles in Cuba and Turkey in the first place.

I'm glad historians are finally uncovering the real story. 8)


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15 Nov 2012, 1:26 pm

Trying to find the link now (had it a few days ago), but there was one man in particular, executive officer aboard a Soviet submarine involved in the Cuban dust-up, who can be said to be single-handedly responsible for preventing WW3. An American destroyer was dropping depth charges, trying to get the sub to surface; they'd lost radio contact with Moscow, and the boat's captain and political officer were both convinced that the USSR had already been destroyed by American nukes (because just like us, they believed the other side was just itching to kill them). They had torpedoes with fission warheads, which the captain was prepared to use. Had atomic explosions been noted during the exchange, it seems inevitable that MAD would have kicked in, and the missiles would have flown.

Launching the atomic torpedoes required the captain, executive officer, and political officer to agree; the exec refused. When they finally surfaced and re-established radio contact, he was proven right, and avoided official punishment for his actions.

(I still like what McNamara is reported to have said, upon becoming SecDef and getting his first briefing on MAD: "You don't have a war plan here, General! What you have is some kind of horrible spasm!")


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20 Nov 2012, 10:49 am

DeaconBlues wrote:
(I still like what McNamara is reported to have said, upon becoming SecDef and getting his first briefing on MAD: "You don't have a war plan here, General! What you have is some kind of horrible spasm!")


Interesting man, McNamara.

From his obituary in "The Economist" ...

He was haunted by the thought that amid all the objective-setting and evaluating, the careful counting and the cost-benefit analysis, stood ordinary human beings. They behaved unpredictably. During the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which he had lived through at cabinet level, “Kennedy was rational. Khrushchev was rational. Castro was rational.” Yet between them they had pushed the world to the brink. Rationality, he concluded, “will not save us.” Perhaps what would were the little quirks that had made him love John Kennedy: the president's sudden capacity to be empathetic, surprised, intuitive, and ready to jettison his most confident calculations.

Years after Vietnam, he famously backtracked on his company-line hawk stance to become almost hippie-like in his attitudes toward the Third World. In my opinion, he was more effective as Defense Secretary under Kennedy than he was under Johnson, which shows again how much interpersonal context influences our lives.