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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 22, 1962

On this day, 50 years ago, President Kennedy, went on the air to inform the American people and the World that there was a crisis brewing in Cuban.  The Americans had learned that the Russians were installing missiles in Cuban with nuclear warheads.  This was unacceptable to the United States.  The country was on the highest alert ever in peacetime..  The Russians must remove the missiles or the United States would respond militarily.  The Doomsday Clock had just moved forward to one minute to Midnight.  This was to be to closest the World has ever come to WWIII  and a nuclear holocaust of unthinkable proportion.  The World held it breath as the three men that held the future of humanity in their hands struggled as leaders of their countries and as intelligent human beings who had to bring their personal and political judgement to bear to resolve the conflict.

President John F. Kennedy  as we remember that day.

The American people knew what the stakes were  and protested and prayed for peace.

Here is a brief summary of the events, Thirteen Days that Shook the World, -- and Nearly Ended It

With Fidel Castro as a loose cannon willing to see his country and people destroyed if necessary to launch a nuclear attack on the United States, the two men, Khrushchev and Kennedy, with cooler heads and the responsibility to resolve the crisis, exchanged correspondences setting forth their demands.  As it turned out they were rational men whose life experiences let them know what the real stakes were. The quickly came to recognize the humanity in each other and their shared fear.  Kennedy has served in WWII and saw that overwhelming military force did not cause the Japanese to give up and Khrushchev has fought in the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union and saw the human cost of war up close. His country had lost 20 million citizens in WWII. A nuclear war with the US would cost so many more, perhaps, 100 million on each side.  They found a solution..  In the mean time so many uncontrolled  incidents could have started the war: the US military was pushing for  a military solution, the shooting down of a U2 Spy plane and the lose of its pilot, the defiance of the Russian ship, Bucharest, crossing the blockade line,  a Russian submarine commander not firing a nuclear tipped torpedo.  Anyone of these could have started the war.  Cooler head prevailed. There was also the possibility that the exchanges of letters and threats and demands would be misunderstood and cause one side or the other to make a preemptive strike. 
 In the end, everyone got something:: the Americans got to see the Russians back down and withdraw their missiles. The Russians got a commitment from the United States that they would not attack Cuba, (every administration since has honoured this) and secretly the Americans agreed to remove missiles from Turkey (on Russia border). Cuba got to survive. Fidel Castro is still with us and has had a chance for redemption, understand his willingness to use the missiles was wrong.

For a very interesting presentation and understanding of the Crisis and the three men involved I highly suggest we all read  The Armageddon Letters imaginatively presented on this website. Watch each of the videos and see how an understanding of the minds of the men involved managed to deal with the crisis and resolve it.

We should have learned many things from this crisis. First, we must rid the World of Nuclear Weapons. They are not a choice. Also, Military superiority has limited utility in resolving conflicts that are political. Small wars and threats of wars can get out of control.  Leaders of countries must come to know each other and understand the human as well as the political motivations.
Only now after many years have passed and the cold war has faded into history can we laugh at some black humour that makes us shutter when we fully reflect on how close we came to realizing our greatest fear.

Knowing what we know now, this would  have been a good year to award posthumously the Nobel Peace Prize to John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev , after all their humanity saved Humanity.


At 8:09 a.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

You are always interesting. It was a scary time.

At 9:50 a.m., Blogger Owen Gray said...

I remember heading off to school, not knowing if I would come home. When the Russian ships turned around, it was broadcast over the school intercom.

We came really close to Aramgeddon.

At 11:11 a.m., Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I remember the school handing us a form to fill out that wanted to know how fast, at a quick walk, we could get home. Apparently, in the face of an imminent nuclear attack on Toronto they wanted to know if they should send us home to die or let us die in school. I laughed at the whole idea and refused to sign the ridiculous request. A nuclear bomb dropped on Toronto would toast us all.

Years later I moved to near North Bay. Little did I know that it would have been ground zero since the Eastern division of NORAD was located in a man made cave under the mountain there. It has since moved above ground. I guess the cold war is over, unless Romney wins the election and once again makes Russia our mortal enemy.

Anyone got a creative money making idea on how to us a large underground man made cavern?

At 11:16 a.m., Blogger possum said...

Too bad you all can't come down here and vote! Da-yam! (pardon my southern accent!) It is a scary time, once again.
I was in Turkey during this Cuban crisis... not a comfy place to be either. That U2 plane flew out from our base near Ankara.
I bet the world would be shocked to find out how many "hidden" missle silos are tucked in here and there.


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