At the very outset, let me clarify, that this piece has nothing to do with any further developments in Political Science, Economy, and/or Political Economy. However, I do consider it important for us to comprehend how, under this era of war mongering political economics, matters could get out of hand and, lead us down the path of a Global Holocaust. Which is where this global war-based economy is inevitably headed.
You might recall that we examined what is referred to as, Strategic Warning Time, SWT, [the time interval between learning of a [possible] nuclear offensive and reacting to it]. We also realized that, due to the geographic deployment of nuclear assets, the SWT for Russia was considerably less than that of US. This fact haunts both sides to date. The US, intent on retaining this advantage, Russia intent on equalizing SWT or, at least, reducing it.
It was in this environment that, in the late 1950s/early ‘60s, American missiles based in Turkey [among the most threatening to Russia] became obsolescent and, the US was working on replacing them. Meantime, in Cuba, there was growing unrest and the Socialist-Communist supporters of Fidel Castro were gaining strength. Russia was watching these events very keenly. Cuba, only 90 miles from Florida, could be ideal to reduce US’ SWT.
In 1959, Castro defeated the Batista, who had been ruling, and took over the reins of Cuba. Perhaps, if the US had chosen to befriend Castro, history would have been different. It is quite amazing that, while generally, Americans are a friendly peoples; collectively and as a nation, they are amazingly and outstandingly arrogant. Something to this effect was also mentioned by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer in their book, The Ugly American.
Instead, obsessed with the threat of spreading Communism next door to it, US did everything possible to eliminate Castro. Repeated assassination attempts, continuing support to Batista, embargos and blockades.
But, the Bay of Pigs fiasco was, for Castro, the final straw. In 1961, under the false illusion that Cubans were opposed to Castro and, given the opportunity, would rise to the man in support of Castro’s enemies, CIA undertook an invasion of Cuba, consisting mainly of Cuban counter revolutionaries assisted by CIA agents to retake Cuba. It was an unmitigated disaster and, America and Kennedy, then President of US, were humiliated.
All this while, Russia had been repeatedly suggesting to Castro that Russian missiles could be located in Cuba and would also serve to protect Cuba from any US-sponsored misadventures. But, perhaps wary of needling the sleeping giant next door or, perhaps hoping US might see the sense of befriending Cuba, Castro desisted.
But the attempt at the Bay of Pigs made clear that US’ enmity was implacable and it would forever be in search of an opportunity to invade from other Bays of [bigger] Pigs. Consequently, Castro relented and agreed to host Russian missiles on Cuban soil. This would certainly prevent any future US misadventure.
Under Kennedy’s brief stint, he had, so far, been twice humiliated: by the construction of the Berlin Wall by Russians and by his misadventure in Cuba. As the intelligence of Russian missiles being assembled on Cuban soil began to trickle in, Kennedy was loth to act on CIA’s version, which Russians and Cubans were vehemently denying. He decided to take a smaller risk by sending a U-2 aircraft for confirmation. This mission was successful and returned with incontrovertible evidence of their presence. Armed with this evidence, Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba and, took the evidence to the UN and confronted the Russians.
This standoff was a bomb that continued ticking for thirteen days, till it ended on November 21. While the world waited with baited breath for these thirteen days, both belligerents didn’t want to blink. Twice humiliated and, being painted as being “weak”, Kennedy was adamant to establish his credentials to play hardball. Totally indifferent to the stakes in this case, he was relentless.
Finally, it was it was the Russian premier, Nikita Khrushchev who, according to the US version, “blinked” or, perhaps he was more humane? Russia agreed to dismantle its missiles in Cuba and take them back under UN observation. In return, US agreed to dismantle its missiles in Turkey but, the US would neither make this public nor acknowledge the link to the Russian concession in Cuba. Thus, the world was for some time unaware that Kennedy had given even this small American tit to the Russian [publicized] tat. Khrushchev lost his hold to power because of many reasons, among which the Cuban crisis was prominent. However, he did not suffer the fate of his deposed predecessors and was pensioned off with a dacha in the countryside. Despite having his memoirs smuggled out and published in 1970, he suffered no repercussions till his demise, a year later. Could it be that Russians appreciate humanity in their leaders, more than the Americans do?