Skip to main content

Thoughts During the Cuban Missile Crisis

Image result for Robert Kennedy

JFK authorized the Attorney General, his brother, to cut the deal that the US for years thereafter would deny it had ever made, the deal agreeing that the US missiles in Turkey would be dismantled in return for a withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba.

Robert Kennedy wrote the following of the moment of the crucial contact, with Dobrynin.

"We have to have a commitment by at least tomorrow that those bases [in Cuba] would be moved. This was not an ultimatum, I said, but just a statement of fact. He should understand that if they did not remove those basis, then we would remove them. His country might take retaliatory action, but he should understand that before this was over, while there might be dead Americans, there would also be dead Russians. He then asked me about Khrushchev's other proposal dealing with removal of the missiles from Turkey. I replied that there could be no quid pro quo --- not deal of this kind could be made ... If some time elapsed --- and ... I mentioned four or five months -- I said I was sure that these matters could be resolved satisfactorily."

The point, of course, was to be able to say, "we were eyeball to eyeball, and the other fellow blinked," while one was winking to the other fellow.

The memo of RK's thoughts appears on p. 554 of Ferguson's vol. I of the Kissinger biography (though Kissinger was in Cambridge, MA while this was happening).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…