Today in history: The Cuban Missile crisis, 1962 "Nuclear catastrophe was hanging by a thread ... and we weren't counting days or hours, but minutes." -Soviet General and Army Cheif of Operations, Anatoly Gribkov The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war. The United States armed forces were at their highest state of readiness ever and Soviet field commanders in Cuba were prepared to use battlefield nuclear weapons to defend the island if it was invaded. Luckily, thanks to the bravery of two men, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, war was averted. BOTH UNDERESTIMATED THE IMPACT OF GENERAL NUCLEAR WAR. EACH MISUNDERSTOOD AND UNDERESTMATED THE OTHER. BOTH MAINTAINED CALM WHEN THEIR ADVISORS SOUGHT AACTIONS. For the United States, the crisis began on October 15, 1962 when reconnaissance photographs revealed Soviet missiles under construction in Cuba. Early the next day, President John Kennedy was informed of the missile installations. "Mr. President, there is now hard photographic evidence that the Russians have offensive missiles in Cuba." -McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor Tensions finally began to ease on October 28 when Khrushchev announced that he would dismantle the installations and return the missiles to the Soviet Union, expressing his trust that the United States would not invade Cuba. Further negotiations were held to implement the October 28 agreement, including a United States demand that Soviet light bombers be removed from Cuba, and specifying the exact form and conditions of United States assurances not to invade Cuba. The most important occurrence on the 26th was a letter from Khrushchev to Kennedy. The letter was clearly an impassioned appeal, written by Khrushchev himself, to resolve the crisis. Khrushchev proposed removing his missiles if Kennedy would publicly announce never to invade Cuba. You and I should not now pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied a knot of war, because the harder you and I pull, the tighter the knot will become. And a time may come when this knot is tied so tight that the person who tied it is no longer capable of untying it, and then the knot will have to be cut. What that would mean I need not explain to you, because you yourself understand perfectly what dread forces our two countries possess. I propose we, for our part, will declare that our ships bound for Cuba are not carrying any armaments. You will declare that the United States will not invade Cuba with its troops and will not support any other forces which might intend to invade Cuba. Then the necessity of the presence of our military specialists in Cuba will disappear. On the Brink "I thought I might never live to see another Saturday night." - Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara Conclusion "Having come so close to the edge, we must make it our business not to pass this way again." -National Security Advisor, McGeorge Bundy 14 Days in October: The Cuban Missile Crisis UJUMBE: DONT MESS WITH DIPLOMACY!!!!