By Andrea Dantzer
January 6, 2012
The Cuban Missile Crisis has been hailed as one of the biggest triumphs in our modern day history, and it is certainly the closest this country has ever come to a nuclear war. However, recently America has increased aggressions against Iran and has received warnings from both China and Russia. Russia and China have said they will not tolerate a preemptive and aggressive attack against Iran by the United States. Are we headed for another nuclear war and are there lessons we can learn from the Cuban Missile Crisis?
If we listen to each Presidential candidate, we are led to believe a nuclear attack from Iran is imminent and we have no choice but to preemptively attack them, except for Ron Paul. Ron Paul is one voice of sanity amidst the screams for war. Ron Paul has taken the time to read DoD reports, CIA findings and the IAEA reports regarding the threat of Iran.
In these findings, there is nothing to lead America into believing that Iran has a desire to use a nuclear weapon against any other country. Based on these findings, we must ask ourselves if there is a better way to handle Iran other than imposing sanctions that hurt the Iranian people or pursuing acts of aggression. Can we learn a valuable lesson in diplomacy from the past?
Let’s look back at what happened in the 1960s. The world was on the brink of a nuclear war, the United States Armed Forces were readied for action and the Soviet Commanders, stationed on the island of Cuba, were prepared to defend the island with nuclear weapons, if necessary.
By the early 60s, the United States was well ahead of the Soviet Union in the race for arms. The Soviets were only equipped with missiles that could reach Europe, but nothing powerful enough to reach North America. The United States, on the other hand, was well stocked with weapons that could reach the Soviet Union. In the spring of 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceptualized the idea of installing missiles capable of hitting the United States in Cuba. Fidel Castro was the Prime Minister of Cuba at that time, and he was receptive to this Khrushchev. He had just experienced an attack by America during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion just one year before. Castro was convinced that another attack perpetuated by the United States was imminent. As a result, Castro agreed to Khrushchev’s plan and in 1962, the Soviets secretly and quietly began installing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba.
The Cuban Missile Crisis began on October 15, 1962 for the United States as recon photos showed weapons that had the capability of reaching the United States were under construction. President John F Kennedy was informed of the photos early the next morning. The EX-COMM, a group of twelve of the President’s most trusted advisors, was organized and assembled. After a week of guarded debates, meetings and talks with the upper echelons of the United States government and military, Kennedy approved of imposing a naval blockade around Cuba in order to prevent any new arms from reaching Cuban shores.
President Kennedy announced to the public that Cuba had nuclear weapons installed on their island and they were capable of reaching the United States on October 15, 1962. During his address to the public, Kennedy stated that a launch of any nuclear weapon from Cuba would be deemed an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union, and the United States would act accordingly. He also demanded that the Soviets remove all offensive weapons from the island.
With this public announcement, tensions swiftly increased on both sides and the situation became increasingly precarious. After the announcement, Kennedy ordered low-level recon missions every two hours in an effort to be fully prepared in case of a missile launch. On October 25th, President Kennedy had the naval blockade pull the quarantine line back and raised the military alert to DEFCON 2. Defcon is a defense condition alert system used by the United States Armed Forces. Defcon 5 is the least severe readiness level while Defcon 1 is the most severe in relation to military situations. The United States was on the brink of a nuclear war.
President Kennedy also made it clear during his announcement that the United States had no desire for war against the Soviet Union and would be open to hearing any proposals for peace at any time and in any forum. President Kennedy was prepared to defend the nation as necessary, but he was open to peace talks and treaties, and agreeable to concessions from both sides in order to avoid a catastrophic war unlike the world has ever known. He expressed that the United States was a peaceful country and wished to live in peace with the world and with the Soviets, but he must also defend his country when threatened and required.
President Kennedy showed great strength, leadership and diplomacy. Are there lessons that our current political leaders could learn from Kennedy and his actions over the course of thirteen days? One must compare the foreign policy beliefs of the Presidential candidates to the leader Kennedy was during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His goal was not a victory of might, but the vindication of right, not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom.
President Kennedy showed great diplomacy as tensions rose and the situation grew dire. He was willing to talk and make concessions on behalf of peace. It wasn’t appeasement, and it wasn’t surrender; it was a way in which both parties could come together to establish peace. On October 26, Khrushchev contacted President Kennedy in an impassioned letter with the proposal that upon the United States promising to not invade Cuba, they would remove all Soviet missiles and forces.
October 27th marked the worst and most intense day of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A U2 had been shot down over Cuba and Kennedy received a second letter from Khrushchev with further demands in regards to the US missiles in Turkey. Khrushchev wanted the US to remove all missiles from Turkey in exchange for the dismantling of the Soviet offensive missiles in Cuba. In a bold move that is still debated today, President Kennedy, on advice from Attorney General Robert Kennedy, responded with an agreement to the first letter guaranteeing the United States would not invade Cuba and essentially ignoring the second letter.
October 28th would mark the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis as Khrushchev announced his agreement to the terms of the first letter and would begin the immediate dismantling of Soviet weapons in Cuba. He also expressed his trust that the United States would keep their word to not invade Cuba. Negotiations were eventually held that strengthened the agreement reached on the 28th.
John F Kennedy was a war hero, had a quiet steel strength and understood the value of diplomacy over the show of force. With the threat of nuclear weapons pointed at the United States, he was still able to calmly and diplomatically offer a hand of peace and a willingness to negotiate in order to avoid a devastating war.
Today, we hear all of the Presidential candidates talk about the growing threat of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, despite evidence to the contrary, except for one man, Congressman Ron Paul. Of the remaining candidates, only Ron Paul has shown the same kind of quiet steel strength and diplomatic abilities as John F Kennedy did in the sixties. Ron Paul is also the only candidate to have served this country in the military as Kennedy did. He was an active duty flight surgeon during 1963-1965 and in the Air National Guard from 1965-1968.
Preemptive strikes and acts of aggression against Iran can only lead this country to an inevitable third world war. We must ask ourselves which Presidential candidate we would put in Kennedy’s place if we could. Which candidate would have the military knowledge, the diplomacy and the desire for peace rather than a show of might as John F Kennedy did. In listening to their words, their actions and their policies, only Ron Paul rings of the same virtues Kennedy possessed.
Ron Paul is often labeled as an isolationist, although nothing could be further from the truth. An isolationist is one who takes a protectionist stance, closing borders and hindering free trade so that their nation is secure and closed with no diplomatic relations. A non-interventionist believes in a policy of free and open trade, non-aggression, not policing the world and opening up diplomatic talks. If it wasn’t for John F Kennedy’s willingness to open the lines of communication with Khrushchev, the United States likely would have fought in the first nuclear war. The Cuban Missile Crisis can teach us valuable lessons in the proper approach to dealing with foreign threats, if we take care to learn from them.
Andrea Dantzer is an advocate for the return of our Constitutional Republic and is on a self described quest to educate Americans on the issues of free markets, non interventionist foreign policy, and civil liberties. Andrea is a home-schooling mother of three who enjoys being active in the home-schooling revolution and reading www.mises.orgdaily. She can be contacted at AndreaDantzer@yahoo.com.