Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Terrifying Days in October

October 16 - 28, 1962

Fifty years ago.

The Cuban Missile Crisis where we came as close as we have ever come to blowing ourselves and our world out of modern civilization and perhaps ending life as we know it.

Am I being overly dramatic? Was it really that bad, that close to Armageddon?

It felt like it at the time.

Looking back, it still does. From Wikipedia:

it is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to turning into a nuclear conflict, or possibly World War III, with an American research center estimating that 100 million Americans and over 100 million Russians would have perished. The crisis served as the first documented instance of the threat of mutual assured destruction (MAD) being discussed as a determining factor in a major international arms agreement.
Here's a timeline of those fear-filled days 50 years ago:
October 14 : A U-2 flying over western Cuba obtains photographs of missile sites

October 14 - 17: The Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly advise Kennedy to make an air strike ( the discussions are referred to as the EX-COMM's )

October 18: Gromyko assures Kennedy that Soviet Cuban aid has been only for the "defensive capabilities of Cuba."

October 22: Congressional leaders are shown the photographic evidence of the Soviet missile Cuban installations and the President addresses the nation regarding the Cuban crisis

October 22: U.S. military forces go to DEFCON 3

October 23: Kennedy receives a letter from Khrushchev in which Khrushchev states that there is a, "serious threat to peace and security of peoples." Robert Kennedy speaks with Ambassador Dobrynin

October 24: Soviet ships, en route to Cuba, reverse their course except for one. US Military forces go to DEFCON 2

October 25: JFK sends a letter to Khrushchev placing the responsibility for the crisis on the Soviet Union

October 26: Khrushchev sends a letter to President Kennedy proposing to remove his missiles if Kennedy publicly announces never to invade Cuba

October 27: An American U-2 is shot down over Cuba killing the pilot, Major Rudolf Anderson

October 27: A U-2 strays into Soviet airspace, near Alaska, and is nearly intercepted by Soviet fighters

October 27: Kennedy sends Khrushchev a letter stating that he will make a statement that the U.S. will not invade Cuba if Khrushchev removes the missiles from Cuba

October 28: Khrushchev announces over Radio Moscow that he has agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba

In return the US agrees to the withdrawal of US nuclear missiles from Turkey ending the Cuban Missile Crisis

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