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TAL | Under Kubakrisen för lite mer än 50 år sedan höll John F. Kennedy ett tal som skulle förbereda nationen för ett eventuellt kärnvapenkrig.  

Prologue hösten 2012

Efter TV-talet var det knappast någon amerikan, eller för den delen någon annan heller utanför USA, som inte insåg allvaret i denna uppgörelse med Sovjetunionen.

Därmed uppnådde Vita huset den primära uppgiften att informera och förbereda medborgarna samtidigt som man samlade landet bakom presidenten.

Professor Martin J. Sherwin skrev 2012 i Prologue:

The public learned that nuclear war was an imminent possibility on Monday, October 22, 1962, at 7 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time.

”This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba,” President John F. Kennedy began in what has to be counted as the scariest presidential address of the Cold War.

”Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.”

Kennedy went on to explain that Soviet officials had repeatedly lied about the buildup. He said the United States was demanding that all the offensive missiles be removed from Cuba forthwith—or else—and announced that a ”quarantine” of Cuba (calling it a blockade would have represented it as an act of war) was only the first step toward forcing the removal of the offending weapons. And he added that any missile launched from Cuba would be considered to have originated from the Soviet Union and would require ”a full retaliatory response” upon the USSR.

”We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth,” he said, but warned, ”neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced.”

The blockade of Cuba, and the other responses detailed in the President’s dramatic 20-minute speech, had been devised by a select group of advisers during the previous week in secret meetings that often lasted late into the night.

[…]

Looking back at the Cuban Missile Crisis from the perspective of 50 years, it is clear that the dangers were greater than contemporaries understood: that most of the advice the President received would have led to war and that Khrushchev and Kennedy entered the crisis as adversaries seeking advantages but quickly became partners in search of a peaceful resolution. In all of this, good luck was an indispensable ingredient. Five decades of research also reveals why, absent revision, history petrifies into myth.

The crisis was the transformative event in U.S.-Soviet and U.S.-Cuban Cold War relations. It not only assured Castro’s survival (the putative aim of the Soviet deployment), but it reset the unstated rules of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear relationship.

Nuclear deterrence could no longer be viewed as a stable condition that allowed governments to brandish nuclear weapons for diplomatic advantage. The crisis had exposed deterrence’s fragilities, requiring that it be managed openly as a delicately balanced process. Kennedy had made the essential point in his October 22 address:

Nuclear weapons are so destructive, and ballistic missiles are so swift, that any substantially increased possibility of their use or any sudden change in their deployment may well be regarded as a definite threat to peace.

[…]

Expanding the boundaries of the 13 days to Castro’s revolution and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion (1959 and 1961 respectively) explains the circumstances that made room for the crisis but does not deal with its root cause. The root cause was the central role that nuclear weapons had come to play in the American-Soviet relationship.

Disregarding how those weapons were seen and valued by Soviet and U.S. leaders during the 17 years that preceded the crisis is analogous to explaining the cause of the American Civil War by focusing solely on Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860 while ignoring the history of slavery.

Bild: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) har publicerat tidskriften Prologue i över 40 år. Ovanstående tidskriftsomslag är höstnumret 2012.

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