1. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    JFK Presidency

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Poziga, Oct 9, 2016.

    Hello. :)

    It's one of those moments where for just one dialogue of the story I'm writing, I need to research a whole time period to get it right. :D

    I'm writing a general fiction story about student life, similar to This Side of Paradise by Fitzgerald. I'm currently writing a scene where they are drinking and they start talking about history. JFK and the Cuban Crisis to be more precise.

    I was watching some documentaries and realized that there is a lot of misconceptions about JFK's presidency. A lot of people consider him one of the worst presidents, because of the Cuban Crisis, Vietnam, Laos etc.
    But if I understand correctly, he and Khrushchev were provoking each other, but in the end it was them who prevented the whole-scale nuclear war, while their military staff urged them to attack their adversaries. Kennedy's Joint Chiefs especially. Maybe Kennedy took the heat because he was successor of Eisenhower's presidency and he was building nuclear bombs like a madman (from 1000 nuclear weapons to more than 22.000 nuclear weapons).

    What are your opinions about one of the most dangerous and tense months of human history?

    Thank you. :)

    P. S. I posted this thread here and not in Research, because the question has a debate nature. I want to read various views on this. :)
     
  2. Dr. Mambo
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    Dr. Mambo Active Member

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    JFK was irresponsible and indecisive, and Khrushchev was horribly naive from the get-go. The reason the Cuban Missile Crisis became a legitimate crisis was solely because of these two's gross incompetence.

    The transcripts of JFK's meetings with the Joint Chiefs and his advisers are publicly available, and I'm sure a quick Google search would turn them up. They're chilling. At times he borders on incoherence (perhaps in part due to his treatment by a number of powerful drugs for a back problem), and his lack of knowledge about the US nuclear situation is alarming. On the very first day Kennedy is advised to approach the situation cautiously. He ignores his advisers and suggests exploring the option of conducting "a strike of substantial proportions." He then calls the Russian installation of missiles in Cuba "goddam dangerous" and compares it to the US placing warheads in Turkey... seemingly unaware that the US did, in fact, have warheads in Turkey. By opting to implement a blockade on Cuba and addressing the American public about the situation, JFK backed Khrushchev into a corner. How could Khrushchev deescalate/withdraw after the public declaration of a blockade without appearing spineless? He couldn't, and the blockade encouraged both Castro and his advisers who feared the US would invade Cuba. According to the aforementioned transcripts, JFK didn't even consider serious diplomatic action until the 10th day of the crisis.

    Khrushchev for his part was completely stupid about the whole thing. Obviously the Russian motivation for inserting the missiles in Cuba was to try to even the US nuclear advantage, but to think the US wouldn't notice the missiles until they were operational was absurd. The CIA actually theorized whatever was going on in Cuba would involve surface-to-surface missiles over a month before the missiles even arrived. Beyond that, the US nuclear arsenal was hugely superior to the Soviets', so once the situation escalated Khrushchev experienced a series of "what the hell have we DONE?" moments. Castro, the bumbling idiot, was prodding Khrushchev to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the US before they could invade Cuba, but Khrushchev had already realized how dire the situation was and sent Kennedy two letters. The first was confrontational but offered to remove the nukes in exchange for a no-invasion (of Cuba) pledge. The second, which came soon after the first and demonstrates Khrushchev's anxiety about the crisis, was considerably more peaceable in tone and brought the removal of the Turkey missiles into the equation. JFK saw this as an agreeable "out" from the crisis, especially considering he hadn't even known about the Turkey missiles a few days before the crisis.

    So yes, in the end JFK and Khrushchev both realized they were risking nuclear war over a tiny third-world nation, and they ultimately deescalated the Cuban Missile Crisis and ensured no nukes were launched. But how much credit should we give them, really? Khrushchev initiated the crisis in the first place, and JFK demonstrated a complete lack of leadership and competence when trying to decide how to respond. They both acted irresponsibly and "got in way over their heads" before they realized the true gravity of the situation. Any credit we give them for solving the crisis peaceably comes with the caveat that they were responsible for the crisis getting out of hand in the first place.
     
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  3. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    Wasn't Oleg Penkovisky (I may have spelt that wrong) a GRU Colonel spying for the CIA feeding intel to the americans during the missile crisis, which would have given them some vinsight into how far they could push kruschev without actually risking nuclear war
     

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