One of the enduring U.S. myths from the Cold War is that communist Cuba, headed by Fidel Castro, and the Soviet Union were responsible for bringing the world to the brink of all-out nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The myth holds that the Soviets and Cubans were responsible for the crisis by basing Soviet offensive nuclear missiles 90 miles away from American shores, thereby precipitating the crisis that almost led to all-out nuclear war.
The truth, however, is different from the myth. Actually, it was the U.S. national-security state apparatus — specifically the Pentagon and the CIA, which had been foisted onto the American governmental system after World War II to fight the Cold War against America’s World War II ally and partner, the Soviet Union — that was responsible for nearly bringing the world to total nuclear destruction.
Last week, I wrote an article entitled “The Paranoid Obsession Over Cuba,” in which I detailed the paranoid obsession that the Pentagon and the CIA have had about Cuba ever since Fidel Castro assumed power after ousting the U.S.-supported Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista from power. The Pentagon and the CIA were convinced that a communist outpost 90 miles away from American shores was a grave threat to “national security.”
However, as I pointed out in last week’s article, this mindset was nothing more than extreme paranoia about communism and communists. Communist Cuba has been in existence now for more than 50 years and the United States is still standing. Moreover, there are several regimes in Latin America that have closely aligned themselves with Castro’s Cuba and that have adopted socialist economic systems. Examples include Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador. In fact, the same reasoning applies to Vietnam and China, nations that remain communist and yet peacefully coexist with the United States.
Who cares that Cuba was communist or that it was inspiring other Latin American regimes to be communist? What difference has any of that made to the American people? It hasn’t made any difference at all.
There is not one instance in which Cuba has attacked the United States, invaded Florida, attempted to occupy our nation, sponsored terrorist attacks against Americans, attempted to assassinate U.S. officials, or engaged in regime-change efforts within the United States.
In fact, it’s always been the other way around. Such acts of aggression have always been committed by the Pentagon and the CIA against Cuba, in large part owing to the paranoid mindset that national-security state officials have always had about the dangers that communism posed to “national security.” As a matter of fact, Cuba has never even retaliated for the many acts of aggression committed by the Pentagon and the CIA against Cuba.
Thus, the reason that Cuba invited the Soviet Union to install nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962 was not for the purpose of initiating a nuclear war against the United States. Instead, the purpose was defensive in nature — that is, to deter a U.S. invasion of Cuba, an invasion that the CIA and the Pentagon were pressuring President Kennedy to undertake throughout his term of office. That was what the infamous Operation Northwoods was all about.
Americans didn’t learn about Operation Northwoods until the 1990s, when the Assassination Records Review Board succeeded in prying open some of the military’s top-secret records relating to the Kennedy era. The ARRB had been formed in the wake of public outrage arising from Oliver Stone’s movie “JFK,” which posited that the U.S. national-security state assassinated Kennedy out as part of a national-security regime-change operation. Americans were outraged over the fact that the U.S. government was still keeping many of its records relating to the Kennedy assassination secret from the American people. Thus, the job of the ARRB was to require government agencies, including the Pentagon and the CIA, to open up their files and records, an effort that was only partially successful, given the fact that the CIA still refuses to comply with the open-records mandate.
Operation Northwoods was a top-secret plan that was unanimously approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that advocated a full-scale military invasion of Cuba to eliminate this supposed threat to “national security” by ousting Castro from power and installing a pro-U.S. ruler in his stead. In order to disguise the fact that such an invasion would be a naked act of aggression, the JCS recommended a series of fake terrorist attacks and fake airplane hijackings, in which innocent American citizens would be killed, with the aim of blaming the deaths on Cuban terrorists. That then would enable Kennedy to go on national television and exclaim, “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked!” The fake terrorist attacks and fake hijackings would then provide the pretext for invading Cuba. It goes without saying that the false nature of the pretexts for the invasion would forever be kept secret.
To Kennedy’s everlasting credit, he rejected Operation Northwoods, to the anger and chagrin of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nonetheless, it was an open secret that there was nothing the CIA and Pentagon wanted more than to invade Cuba and remove the grave threat to “national security” that Castro supposedly posed.
Notwithstanding his victory over a small band of Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs, Castro knew that there was no way his armed forces could defeat the United States in a full scale military battle for the island. Therefore, Castro concluded that he had only one hope of deterring or resisting a U.S. invasion of Cuba. That was when he invited the Soviets to install nuclear missiles in Cuba.
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev eagerly accepted the invitation. Knowing that the Soviets lagged far behind the United States in nuclear capability, he figured that this would be a good short-cut to balancing out the nuclear forces. Moreover, since the U.S. government had stationed nuclear missiles in Turkey that were aimed at the Soviet Union, Khrushchev figured that stationing Soviet missiles in Cuba aimed at the United States would be just a tit for tat.
But what’s important to keep in mind is that it was the Pentagon and the CIA that were responsible for all this. If they had not been obsessed with bringing about regime change in Cuba with a military invasion, there would have been no reason for Castro to invite the Soviets to install nuclear missiles in Cuba as a deterrent.
The fact that the purpose of the Soviet missiles was defensive in nature was confirmed by the way the crisis was resolved. Once Kennedy promised Castro and Khrushchev that the U.S. government would not invade Cuba — and also promised (secretly) that the U.S. government would remove its nuclear missiles from Turkey, Khrushchev agreed to remove the Soviet missiles from Cuba. That resolved the crisis.
Unfortunately, however, it didn’t resolve the anger and rage of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who considered Kennedy’s resolution of the crisis to have been a major defeat for the United States by communist forces. After what they had perceived as Kennedy’s weakness at the Bay of Pigs for refusing to provide air support for the CIA-sponsored invaders, Kennedy’s guarantee that the United States would never invade Cuba was too much for both the Pentagon and the CIA to bear. After all, as part of the deal Kennedy had effectively guaranteed that the United States would be permanently saddled with the grave threat to “national security” supposedly posed by Cuba’s communist regime 90 miles away from American shores, a supposed threat to “national security” that has been the obsession of the Pentagon and CIA ever since Castro took power.
There are, of course, countless examples of what a disaster it has been for the American people to have embraced the dark-side practices and programs of the national-security state in the name of fighting “communism” (and later “terrorism.”) But the most dangerous consequence of having embraced this bizarre apparatus in the name of protecting “national security” continues to be the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event that brought America and the world to the brink of nuclear disaster.
Who was to blame for the Cuban missile crisis? The U. S had part of this crisis as they overreacted to the fact that the U. S. S. R was importing missiles into Cuba. They made Cuba tense because they tried to invade Cuba twice. The Cubans needed and help and the U. S. S. R were there to help. If the U. S didn’t try to invade Cuba then it wouldn’t cause so much tension thus the crisis not happening. Also if they haven’t set up a base in Turkey then this wouldn’t have led the Russians to put missiles in Cuba. Over-reacted to situation and led to escalation of conflict. The U.
S wanted to help Cuban exiles to overthrow the Castro government (which was hostile to USA). CIA under President Eisenhower had sought to help the anti-Castro rebels to overthrow the regime. Organised Operation Zapata that was carried out on 17th April 1961. Failed miserably. America followed this with Operation Mongoose which aimed to destabilise Cuba through acts of sabotage, economic warfare through embargo on Cuban imports, increasing Cuban’s diplomatic isolation through its expulsion from the Organisation of American States and simulating military exercises (code named Ortsac) aimed at toppling an imaginary dictator. Edwards, 2002: 127-8). America was trying to topple Castro through isolating Cuba, and in doing so, increased the hostility of the Castro regime against the USA and accentuated the fear of invasion, thereby prompting Castro to turn to Moscow for help to defend Cuba from America. (Because Castro was aware that Cuba could not possibly defend herself against America. ) (Edwards 2002: 126, 128) The U. S. S. R is also to blame as they were taking advantage of the fact that Cuba was close to the U. S. This creates tension for the U.
S as this poses a threat to their security. This act made the U. S feel threatened thus taking action. Should not have gotten involved with Cuba? Feb 1960: Extended $100 million worth of credits to Cuba. (Edwards, 2002: 125) May 1962: USSR deployed regiments and weapons to Cuba, including nuclear cruise missiles and mid-range ballistic missiles that could strike targets in USA’s interior. Had stationed 40,000 military personnel in Cuba. This was an indication of economic expansion into an area that ranked high on America’s defence priority.
Sponsorship of Castro’s regime and subsequent creation of a de-facto military base in Cuba appeared to be a deliberate affront to America’s national security. Cuba’s strategic importance to America can be likened to Poland’s importance to USSR. Transporting of military aid (especially missiles) to Cuba thus escalated a crisis between 2 neighbouring countries into a Cold War issue that threatened World peace. Cuba can also be blamed, they got paranoid over the U.
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S invasion so they used one of the powerful countries to guarantee its safety. If they weren’t as paranoid Manipulated super-power politics to guarantee security of borders and to legitimise the new Castro regime . E. g. Turned to USSR for economic and military help, so that it would not have to play the role of a submissive little brother to America. Castro: “Moscow is our brain and our great leader. ” By using USSR as a counter-weight to USA, Cuba was shrewdly manipulating super-power politics for its own advantage.
Castro was aware that Cuba’s distance from Moscow meant that it would be given a large measure of independence from Moscow, as opposed to the tight leash that it would be kept on had they decided to concede to American superiority. Therefore, the escalation of conflict was to some extent orchestrated by Cuba for her own benefit, as it meant that she would not have to fight the American behemoth on her own, but had USSR’s backing. Consequences to missile Cuban crisis-) Led to a thaw in USA-USSR relations, as both parties were aware that their rivalry had almost led to an all-out nuclear war (mutually-assured destruction).
Establishment of direct hotline from Washington White House to Kremlin to facilitate high level discussion between leaders of the 2 countries so as to help defuse tensions. (20th June 1963)Signing of the nuclear test-ban treaty (June 1963). Both countries agreed to cease atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. But underground testing was still permitted. However, take note that although the Cuban Missile Crisis ended, US hostility towards Cuban regime continued, even though Kennedy briefly explored the option of negotiating with Castro via unofficial channels.
Resumption of Operation Mongoose June 1963. Acts of economic sabotage organised by CIA. Plans to assassinate Castro (Operation Condor) remained in place. Therefore, this shows clearly that it was USSR’s involvement that made the conflict between Cuba and USA escalate into the Cuban Missile Crisis in the first place, due to USSR’s provision of missiles to Cuba. Without USSR’s involvement, it would have remained a conflict between America and Cuba. USSR, USA and Cuba all had a part to play in the utbreak of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it was USA who first over-reacted to the threat posed by a leftist regime in Cuba, and had created a self-fulfilling prophecy by taking unjustified pre-emptive strikes such as Operation Zapata and Mongoose that scared Cuba into thinking that her national security was threatened, and thus made her turn to USSR as a strong backer in order to secure her own security. Thus USA was chiefly to blame as she tried to secure her national interest at the expense of other nations, and thus led to the escalation of tensions as nations sought to secure their self-interest by scaring the other into retreat.
Had USA not over-reacted, a peaceful compromise could have been achieved earlier and the scare that was the Cuban Missile Crisis could have been averted. Moreover, USSR’s delving into the conflict was also partly in response to previous US stationing of Jupiter missiles in Turkey, which had essentially held USSR at gun-point, thus USSR’s decision to place missiles in Cuba was justified as it was trying to make USA understand the peril of being placed at gun-point. Therefore, I disagree with the above statement, as USA, more than USSR was to blame for the outbreak of the Cuban Missile Crisis.