By the time he graduates public high school, most every student in America has been indoctrinated with the notion that it was Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev who “blinked” during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually it was President John Kennedy who “blinked” during the crisis, and it was a good thing he did.
Every public school student across America is also indoctrinated with the notion that the Soviet Union installed “offensive” missiles in Cuba during the crisis, which the U.S. national-security establishment gravely maintained were a grave threat to U.S. “national security.”
That’s a lie too. The Soviet missiles were defensive in nature. Their aim was to deter another U.S. invasion of the island or, in the event that deterrence failed, to enable Cuba to defend itself against another unlawful U.S. invasion with nuclear weapons.
It’s important to keep in mind an important fact: In the long relationship between communist Cuba and the United States, it has always, without exception, been the United States, not Cuba, that has been the aggressor.
Cuba has never attacked or invaded the United States or even threatened to do so. It has also never initiated any act of terrorism within the United States. Instead, it has been the U.S. government that has done those types of things against Cuba.
There is the brutal economic embargo that the U.S. government has enforced against Cuba almost from the start of the communist regime there. Its aim has always been to inflict impoverishment, suffering, and death on the Cuban people as a way to achieve regime change in the country.
Operating through the CIA, the U.S. government also orchestrated numerous assassination attempts against Cuban leader Fidel Castro. President Lyndon Johnson referred to the CIA’s assassination program as “a damned Murder, Inc.” The CIA had entered into an assassination partnership with the Mafia, the most crooked murderous private organization in the world.
The CIA also sponsored terrorist attacks inside Cuba, for the purpose of destroying government-owned enterprises and to foment revolution. The attacks produced both death and property damage.
The CIA also sponsored a military invasion at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, which was designed to oust the Fidel Castro regime and replace it with another U.S. puppet regime, similar to the one that Castro had ousted from power in the Cuban revolution. The invasion failed and Castro’s forces killed or captured the CIA’s invaders.
After the Bay of Pigs debacle, the Joint Chiefs of Staff continually exhorted Kennedy to order an all-out U.S. military invasion of Cuba for the purpose of regime change. As part of its efforts, the Pentagon presented Kennedy with a regime-change plan called Operation Northwoods. It called for terrorist attacks to be carried out on American soil that would result in the loss of American life. The plan was to blame the attacks on Cuban agents, which would then give Kennedy the rationale for invading Cuba. Kennedy rejected the plan.
Castro was well aware of the steadfast determination of the CIA and the Pentagon to invade Cuba. But while he could defeat a rag-tag army of CIA-trained Cuban exiles, Castro knew that there was no way he could win if the U.S. military attacked and invaded Cuba.
That was when he asked the Soviet Union to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. It was his only chance to deter an invasion. He had also decided that if the invasion came, he was determined to resist it with nuclear weapons.
Needless to say, the Pentagon was livid with Kennedy. If he had accepted Operation Northwoods, the Joint Chiefs of Staff felt, this problem would never have arisen. Now America was faced with nuclear weapons 90 miles away from American shores, which, the JCS maintained, were a grave threat to “national security” even though they were defensive in nature.
The Pentagon exhorted and pressured Kennedy to order a bombing and an invasion of Cuba. Otherwise, the Pentagon maintained, there was no way America could survive.
Kennedy resisted the pressure. And it was a good thing he did. What he and the CIA didn’t know is that Soviet tactical nuclear weapons were fully armed and that Soviet commanders on the ground had been given battlefield authority to use them. It Kennedy had followed the recommendation of the Pentagon to bomb and invade Cuba, it is a virtual certainty that it would have led to all-out nuclear war.
Kennedy ended up striking a deal with the Khrushchev in which the U.S. would not invade Cuba and the Soviets would withdraw their nuclear weapons. That’s precisely what Castro wanted. That’s why the missiles had been put there in the first place. Kennedy also secretly promised to remove U.S. nuclear weapons from Turkey that were aimed at the Soviet Union.
Thus, contrary to what public school students are taught about the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was Kennedy, not Khrushchev, who “blinked” during the crisis. It’s a good thing that he had the wisdom to do so because his action saved the world from nuclear holocaust.
But the military and the CIA were furious. They considered Kennedy’s resolution of the crisis to be akin to surrender, treason, and cowardice. More important, by agreeing to leave a permanent communist outpost 90 miles away from American shores, Kennedy, the national security establishment felt, had placed America in grave jeopardy insofar as “national security” was concerned.
For more details, see 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.