Nothing the U.S. national-security branch of the federal government — i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA — does surprises me anymore, but I must admit that I was bit taken aback when I read an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled, “Let’s Get Our Nuclear Weapons Out of Turkey” by Steve Andreasen. The article pointed how the political instability that is roiling Turkey places the U.S. nuclear missiles in that country in danger of falling into the wrong hands.
U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey? That’s not possible, I thought. President Kennedy ordered the removal of U.S. nuclear missiles from Turkey more than 50 years, as part of the deal he struck with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis.
How did U.S. nuclear weapons get back into Turkey? More important, what are they doing there? What is their purpose?
At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy himself was surprised to discover that the U.S. had nuclear missiles in Turkey aimed at the Soviet Union. As Benjamin Schwarz pointed out in a fascinating and insightful article on the Missile Crisis in the Atlantic magazine, Kennedy was trying to figure out why Khrushchev would initiate the crisis in the first place. Hypothesizing, Kennedy said, “It’s just as if we suddenly began to put a major number of MRBMs [medium-range ballistic missiles] in Turkey. Now that’s be goddammned dangerous, I would think.” Kennedy’s national security adviser McGeorge Bundy responded, “Well, we did it, Mr. President.”
By “we,” Bundy was referring to the U.S. national-security establishment, the totalitarian-like apparatus that had been grafted onto America’s federal governmental system to wage a Cold War against America’s World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union. As part of its Cold War activities, the Pentagon had installed Jupiter nuclear missiles in Turkey, something that the Soviets didn’t like, especially given the close proximity of Turkey to Russia.
Of course, the U.S. national-security state’s standard story is that all of its anti-Russian activities, both during the Cold War and today, are entirely defensive.
Yet, that’s not exactly true. As Schwarz points out in his article, the Jupiter missiles in Turkey would take an inordinately long time to activate. Thus, in a real war it would have been easy for the Soviets to knock them out before they could be fired.
That meant, then, that in the eyes of the Soviets, those Jupiter missiles had another purpose — to serve as a first strike in a surprise nuclear attack against Russia.
Paranoia? Maybe, but really no different from the U.S. government’s response to a similar situation, one in which, say, Russia was installing nuclear weapons in, say, Cuba, which is located quite near the United States. Countries generally don’t like to have nuclear missiles pointed at them, especially when the nuclear missiles are nearby.
Let’s not forget another principle regarding paranoia: Paranoid people are sometimes followed too. In fact, what Americans didn’t realize at the time — and many still don’t realize — is that the U.S. national-security establishment was exhorting Kennedy to do precisely what the Soviets feared — initiate a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, much like the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor.
Their rationale? They believed that the fight against communism was ultimately a fight to the death, much like they view today their war on terrorism and their war on Islam. Since the United States had a lot more nuclear bombs than the Soviet Union in 1962 (which the national-security state concealed and said was the opposite), the Pentagon and the CIA figured that it would be best to go ahead and have a nuclear war then rather than later.
When Kennedy asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff about projected casualty figures, their response was that America would suffer only 30-40 million people but that the entire Soviet Union would be wiped out, which meant, therefore, that the United States would have won the war.
Kennedy walked out of that particular meeting, indignantly remarking to an aide, “And we call ourselves the human race.” It was only the beginning of the war that would ultimately be waged between JFK and the national-security establishment, a war that is detailed in FFF’s ebook JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s.
The Soviets were well aware of the wish within the U.S. national-security establishment for a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. That’s why they were concerned about those Jupiter missiles in Turkey. They knew that they were worthless for defensive purposes. Their only value was in a first-strike offensive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.
The official U.S. version of the Cuban Missile Crisis — the one that is inculcated into every American schoolchild — is that the Soviets placed offensive nuclear weapons in Cuba for the purpose of initiating a nuclear war against the United States.
It’s been a lie since the very beginning. The truth is that the Soviet missiles were intended to be entirely defensive in nature. That is, they were intended to deter another invasion of Cuba by the U.S. national-security state.
There is something important to note here about the Cold War, Cuba, and the national-security establishment: Cuba never attacked the United States, never initiated terrorist attacks or acts of sabotage in the United States, never imposed an economic embargo against the United States, never invaded the United States, and never tried to assassinate any U.S. president.
Instead, it was the U.S. national-security state that did all those things to Cuba. Even though many American still hew to the view that Cuba was an aggressor against the United States, the fact is that it it is the U.S. national security state that has always been the aggressor against Cuba. Its agents invaded the island at the Bay of Pigs, initiated terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage inside Cuba, imposed a brutal economic embargo that still exists to this day, and, in partnership with the Mafia, repeatedly tried to assassinate Cuba’s president Fidel Castro.
That wasn’t the end of it. Prior to the installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba by the Soviets, the national-security establishment was demanding that Kennedy order a full-scale military invasion of the island for the purpose of regime change, something that both the Cubans and the Soviets were aware of. That’s what the Pentagon’s infamous Operation Northwoods was all about.
Castro knew that he could never prevail in the event of a full-scale U.S. military invasion of Cuba. He had only one way to prevent such an invasion from occurring — enlisting the help of the Soviet Union and its nuclear arsenal with the aim of deterring an invasion or defending against an invasion.
That’s what the purpose of the Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba were for — not to initiate nuclear war against the United States but instead to deter or defend against another one of the many regime-change operations that have characterized the national-security establishment practically since its inception.
When Kennedy found out about that the U.S. national-security state still had those Jupiter missiles in Turkey, he was angry, but he figured out a way to use them to resolve the crisis. First, he promised the Soviets that the United States would no longer invade Cuba. Second, knowing precisely how the Soviets were feelings about the U.S. nuclear missiles in Turkey that were pointed out the Soviet Union, he secretly promised to remove them. As part of the bargain, the Soviets removed their nuclear weapons from Cuba, and the crisis was abated.
While Kennedy and the American people were, naturally, relieved that the world had been spared a nuclear holocaust, the U.S. national-security establishment was livid. They considered the deal the worst defeat in American history. After all, since they were now prohibited from invading Cuba, that meant, in their eyes, that America would be perpetually threatened by a communist outpost only 90 miles away from American shores. As Horne points out in his ebook, JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated, they considered Kennedy a traitor and a dupe who was leading America to defeat at the hands of the communists. The war between Kennedy and his national security establishment became even more grave when JFK delivered his famous Peace Speech at American University, where he announced that he was bringing the Cold War to an end, and then when he initiated secret negotiations with Khrushchev and Castro to establish peaceful coexistence with the communist world.
How did those nuclear weapons get back into Turkey? I’m not really sure how that happened. But it must have happened sometime after President Kennedy was assassinated, as part of the U.S. national-security state’s forever war against the Soviet Union and Russia.