Great article by Chomsky shows just how sickening US imperialism really is. The Cuban Missile Crisis was caused by the US, which was threatening to invade Cuba since the Bay of Pigs operation was defeated. The purpose of Operation Mongoose, a series of often-terrorist attacks and sabotage, was to prepare for a US invasion of Cuba.
In order to ward off the invasion, the Cubans asked for the missiles to be installed there. The only reason it was resolved was because Khrushchev backed down agreed to Kennedy’s outrageously one-sided terms. However, the US did agree to remove missiles from Turkey and to not attack Cuba. The Pentagon wanted to attack Cuba several times during the crisis, but Kennedy turned them down. He is to be commended for this.
The Soviets pointed out that the US reserved the right to place nuclear missiles anywhere on Earth targeting the USSR, China and anyone else, including right up on their borders (the US put missiles on the USSR’s borders in Turkey), but the USSR and its allies had no right to reciprocate by placing defensive missiles in Cuba.
As usual, the hypocrisy of US imperialism won out. The US has a right to target anyone on Earth with whatever weapons it has, and place those weapons anywhere, even right on country’s borders, but not one nation on Earth has the right to fight back against US imperialism by responding in kind.
US imperialism is one sick, depraved monster!
One thing that Kennedy was worried about was not that the Cuban missiles would attack the US (the lie that was portrayed to gullible American fools) but instead that the missiles would serve to deter the murderous meddlings of US imperialism elsewhere in the Hemisphere. Kennedy worried that the missiles might deter a US invasion of Venezuela that Kennedy was then planning.
We see the same thing with Iran. The US and Israel are presently targeting Iran with nukes. If Iran got a bomb, they might be able to even the score and defend themselves against US and Israeli hegemony. This cannot be tolerated.
Prior to that, Kennedy had run for President on a platform involving a “missile gap” with the US and the USSR. The Soviets supposedly had many more missiles than we did, and it was all Eisenhower’s fault. However, this was a complete lie, and Kennedy knew it at the time. It was disgusting of Kennedy to lie his way into office like that.
During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the US threatened nuclear war again against the USSR while authorizing Israel to break a cease-fire that had been imposed on both sides.
Again in 1983, Reagan threatened the USSR again by placing Pershing missiles on 5 minute launch and instituting massive US air and naval probe attacks on the USSR. This led to a major war scare.
India and Pakistan have also had a few nuclear war near misses and scares.
Chomsky concludes the article by noting that nuclear war probably cannot be held off forever, and some day, someone won’t back down, or a scare will turn into a launch. He finishes by saying that nuclear missiles are incompatible with the survival of mankind.
How the U.S. Played Russian Roulette with Nuclear War
by Noam Chomsky
The American attacks are often dismissed in U.S. commentary as silly pranks, CIA shenanigans that got out of hand. That is far from the truth. The best and the brightest had reacted to the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion with near hysteria, including the president, who solemnly informed the country that:
“The complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history. Only the strong can possibly survive.”
And they can only survive, he evidently believed, by massive terror though that addendum was kept secret, and is still not known to loyalists who perceive the ideological enemy as having “gone on the attack” the near-universal perception, as Kern observes.
After the Bay of Pigs defeat, historian Piero Gleijeses writes that JFK launched a crushing embargo to punish the Cubans for defeating a U.S.-run invasion, and “asked his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to lead the top-level interagency group that oversaw Operation Mongoose, a program of paramilitary operations, economic warfare and sabotage he launched in late 1961 to visit the ‘terrors of the earth’ on Fidel Castro and, more prosaically, to topple him.”
The phrase “terrors of the earth” is Arthur Schlesinger’ s, in his quasi-official biography of Robert Kennedy, who was assigned responsibility to conduct the terrorist war, and informed the CIA that the Cuban problem carries “the top priority in the United States Government all else is secondary no time, no effort, or manpower is to be spared” in the effort to overthrow the Castro regime.
The Mongoose operations were run by Edward Lansdale, who had ample experience in “counterinsurgency” a standard term for terrorism that we direct. He provided a timetable leading to “open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime” in October 1962.
The “final definition” of the program recognized that “final success will require decisive U.S. military intervention, ” after terrorism and subversion had laid the basis. The implication is that US military intervention would take place in October 1962 when the missile crisis erupted. The events just reviewed help explain why Cuba and Russia had good reason to take such threats seriously.
Years later, Robert McNamara recognized that Cuba was justified in fearing an attack. “If I were in Cuban or Soviet shoes, I would have thought so, too,” he observed at a major conference on the missile crisis on the 40th anniversary.
As for Russia’s “desperate effort to give the USSR the appearance of equality”, to which Stern refers, recall that Kennedy’s very narrow victory in the 1960 election relied heavily on a fabricated “missile gap” concocted to terrify the country and to condemn the Eisenhower administration as soft on national security. There was indeed a “missile gap”, but strongly in favor of the US.
The first “public, unequivocal administration statement” on the true facts, in his authoritative study of the Kennedy missile program, was in October 1961, when Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric informed the Business Council that “the U.S. would have a larger nuclear delivery system left after a surprise attack than the nuclear force which the Soviet Union could employ in its first strike.”
The Russians, of course, were well aware of their relative weakness and vulnerability. They were also aware of Kennedy’s reaction when Khrushchev offered to sharply reduce offensive military capacity and proceeded to do so unilaterally when Kennedy failed to respond: namely, Kennedy undertook a huge armaments program.
The two most crucial questions about the missile crisis are how it began, and how it ended. It began with Kennedy’s terrorist attack against Cuba, with a threat of invasion in October 1962.
It ended with the president’s rejection of Russian offers that would seem fair to a rational person, but were unthinkable because they would undermine the fundamental principle that the US has the unilateral right to deploy nuclear missiles anywhere, aimed at China or Russia or anyone else, and right on their borders; and the accompanying principle that Cuba had no right to have missiles for defense against what appeared to be an imminent US invasion.
To establish these principles firmly, it was entirely proper to face a high risk of war of unimaginable destruction, and to reject simple, and admittedly fair, ways to end the threat.
Garthoff observes that “in the United States, there was almost universal approbation for President Kennedy’s handling of the crisis.” Dobbs writes that “the relentlessly upbeat tone was established by the court historian, Arthur M Schlesinger Jr, who wrote that Kennedy had ‘dazzled the world’ through a ‘combination of toughness and restraint, of will, nerve and wisdom, so brilliantly controlled, so matchlessly calibrated’.”
Rather more soberly, Stern partially agrees, noting that Kennedy repeatedly rejected the militant advice of his advisers and associates who called for military force and dismissal of peaceful options.
The events of October 1962 are widely hailed as Kennedy’s finest hour. Graham Allison joins many others in presenting them as “a guide for how to defuse conflicts, manage great-power relationships, and make sound decisions about foreign policy in general”. In a very narrow sense, that judgment seems reasonable. The ExComm tapes reveal that the president stood apart from others, sometimes almost all others, in rejecting premature violence.
There is, however, a further question: how should JFK’s relative moderation in management of the crisis be evaluated against the background of the broader considerations just reviewed?
But that question does not arise in a disciplined intellectual and moral culture, which accepts without question the basic principle that the U.S. effectively owns the world by right, and is, by definition, a force for good despite occasional errors and misunderstandings, so that it is plainly entirely proper for the U.S. to deploy massive offensive force all over the world, while it is an outrage for others (allies and clients apart) to make even the slightest gesture in that direction, or even to think of deterring the threatened use of violence by the benign global hegemon.
That doctrine is the primary official charge against Iran today: it might pose a deterrent to US and Israeli force. It was a consideration during the missile crisis as well. In internal discussion, the Kennedy brothers expressed their fears that Cuban missiles might deter a US invasion of Venezuela then under consideration. So “the Bay of Pigs was really right,” JFK concluded.
The principles still contribute to the constant risk of nuclear war. There has been no shortage of severe dangers since the missile crisis. Ten years later, during the 1973 Israel-Arab war, Henry Kissinger called a high-level nuclear alert (Defcon 3) to warn the Russians to keep hands off while he was secretly authorizing Israel to violate the ceasefire imposed by the US and Russia.
When Reagan came into office a few years later, the US launched operations probing Russian defenses and simulating air and naval attacks, while placing Pershing missiles in Germany with a five-minute flight time to Russian targets, providing what the CIA called a “super-sudden first strike” capability.
Naturally, this caused great alarm in Russia, which, unlike the U.S., has repeatedly been invaded and virtually destroyed. That led to a major war scare in 1983. There have been hundreds of cases when human intervention aborted a first strike minutes before launch, after automated systems gave false alarms. We don’t have Russian records, but there’s no doubt that their systems are far more accident-prone.
Meanwhile, India and Pakistan have come close to nuclear war several times, and the sources of the conflict remain.
Both have refused to sign the non-proliferation treaty, along with Israel, and have received U.S. support for development of their nuclear weapons programs until today, in the case of India, now a U.S. ally. War threats in the Middle East, which might become reality very soon, once again escalate the dangers.
In 1962, war was avoided by Khrushchev’s willingness to accept Kennedy’s hegemonic demands. But we can hardly count on such sanity forever. It’s a near miracle that nuclear war has so far been avoided. There is more reason than ever to attend to the warning of Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein , almost 60 years ago, that we must face a choice that is “stark and dreadful and inescapable”:
Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?