Saturday, February 10, 2018

My brief synopsis of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

I was born in 1957.  I was a total Cold War kid.  One of my earliest memories is of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.  My father (a carrier-based dive-bomber pilot who served on the maiden cruise of the USS Forrestal in 1956) was an active reservist in 1962.  He packed his bags in October 1962, but I do not remember if he actually reported for service.  I was too young to remember anything but the fear.  I remember the fear. 

I was always taught that the Cuban Missile Crisis was an American victory in defending our hemisphere against Soviet aggression.  Utter bullshit.

The US was attempting to restore its own control over the government of Cuba, using force.  The US was the aggressor.  The US nearly brought the world into a nuclear war, killing, quite possibly hundreds of millions of innocent people.  The US acted dishonourably in Cuba.

What have I learned, since, about what really happened?

After the Spanish-American War (a war of expansionisn that US waged to take control of Spanish possessions) the US dominated Cuba's economy and its government.  By 1905, US mining companies controlled 80 percent of Cuba’s exports of copper ore and 10 percent of Cuba's land belonged to giant American-owned agriculture estates. The US restricted the right to vote to literate Cuban landowners, excluding the majority of Cubans and empowering the elite who they controlled and who were selling off Cuba.

This went on for decades and the majority of Cubans were forced into poverty while rich gangsters funnelled the country's resources into American hands.

In 1952, General Fulgencio Batista, with the backing of the Cuban military, the US government and an American Jewish mobster named Meyer Lansky, staged a coup and seized power, ousted the President, Carlos Prío Socarrás, and canceled the elections which were to be held three months later. Batista appointed his American friend Lansky "minister of gambling" and the police were told to turn a blind eye to prostitution and drug smuggling in Havana. Another mob friend of Batista's was the Mafioso Lucky Luciano.  From 1952 to 1959, Havana was a Mafia playground.  In return for giving the Mafia free free reign in Cuba, Batista took a 10-30 percent "skim" from the brothels (which employed 10,000–12,000 prostitutes), the 13 mob-controlled casinos, and all the other interesting criminal enterprises.  

Batista and the American were raping Cuba.  

It was under Batista's regime that a young Fidel Castor began arming and training anti-Batista revolutionary soldiers, the majority from Havana's poorer districts ... people who were most exploited by Cuba's American Mafia-controlled government.  Communist ideology had nothing to do with Castro's revolution. Fidel Castro might've have the makings of a dictator, himself, but he certainly was not a communist.  

"I don’t agree with communism. We are democracy. We are against all kinds of dictators. That is why we oppose communism."

– Fidel Castro, 1959

After an unsuccessful attempt at a revolutionary overthrow of the Batista government, Castro was arrested and exiled from Cuba to Mexico.  When he returned to Cuba, with the Argentine doctor and veteran guerrilla fighter Che Guevara in December 1956, Castro's began a very successful guerrilla war against Batista’s troops. After Batista's army had its ass kicked by Catro's guerrilla forces, Batista fled the country on January 1, 1959, taking an immense amount of Cuba's wealth with him (thank you, America).

Here's where the story really gets interesting.  Castro was still not a Communist.  He was a Cuban nationalist rather than communist revolutionary.  Castro wanted to establish a democracy in Cuba that would be an ally to the West.  He sought the recognition (respect) of the United States, who he did not consider an enemy of Cuba.  He appealed to the US for economic aid and support in rebuilding the country as a new democratic republic ... you know, founded like the United States itself, in revolution against tyranny.

The US President Eisenhower rebuffed the new Cuban government’s requests for recognition and assistance.  Castro turned to Canada for help.  When Castro flew to Montreal in 1959, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, afraid of offending the US, refused to meet with him.  Castro, seeing no other choice, turned to the Soviet Union for help in establishing a new government in Cuba.  The Soviets responded favourably, which frightened the US.  The US, instead offering Castro assurance of security, cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba in February 1960. In June of that same year, the US imposed a trade embargo on Cuba (which was actually an act of war), determined to destroy Casto's new government.  Of course, that only pushed Castro closer to the Soviets, and he appealed to them for military assistance to defend his tiny country against American aggression which was already being planned.  In April, 1961, the US made a failed attempt to invade Cuba and overthrow the Castro government.  That was the Bay of Pigs assault.  .And that was when the Soviets decided to deploy medium-range defensive nuclear missiles in Cuba to defend an ally that was being threatened by the US.  

The Cuban Missile Crisis actually went down in less than a week:

  • Monday, October 22, 1962:  The American people learned of the developing crisis.
  • Tuesday October 23, 1962:  Reconnaissance showed that some Soviet missiles appear to be launch-ready.
  • Thursday, October 25, 1962:  JFK sent a letter to Nikita Khrushchev demanding the removal of all nuclear missiles from Cuba.
  • Friday, October 26, 1962:  Khrushchev offered a compromise; the Soviets would remove its defensive missiles from Cuba only if the United States publicly pledged that it would never invade Cuba again.  
  • Saturday, October 27 1962: Khrushchev added an additional condition for the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba:  The US would remove its own nuclear missiles from Italy and Turkey, where were aimed at the Soviet Union, particularly those in Turkey, which were on the border of the Soviet Union. Through back channels communications, the US agreed to Khruschev's conditions.
  • Sunday, October 28, 1962:  Khrushchev announced in a radio broadcast that he would remove all missiles from Cuba.  And, a few months later, American Jupiter rockets were quietly withdrawn from Turkey as well.

Nikita Khrushchev not only defended an ally against a hostile aggressor, but he also forced the removal of nuclear-armed missiles along the border of the Soviet Union.  He won.

The US, on the other hand, mishandled the situation from start to finish and acted dishonourably in Cuba and toward the Cuban people.  

The propaganda lies be damned.

Here's a good 5-minute video synopsis of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis:   Don't miss the account of the one true hero of this entire affair, Vasili Arkhipov (at the 2m28s mark of the video).

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