Telegram From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy Moscow, May 6, 1961. - History

Telegram From Chairman Khrushchev to President KennedyMoscow, May 6, 1961.

On behalf of the people of the Soviet Union and on my own behalf I send you and all the American people sincere congratulations on the occasion of the successful launching of a rocket, with a man on board, that flew a distance of 300 miles and that, during flight, reached a height of up to 115 miles.
Recent outstanding achievements in man's conquest of the cosmos open up boundless possibilities for understanding nature, in the name of progress.
Please convey my heartfelt congratulations to the pilot, Shepard.
N. Khrushchev

American Foreign Policy General Trivia

Kennan's views on containment were elucidated in a famous and highly influential article, signed "X," that appeared in Foreign Affairs magazine for July 1947, analyzing in detail the structure and psychology of Soviet diplomacy.

He suggested that the Russians, while still fundamentally opposed to coexistence with the West and bent on a worldwide extension of the Soviet system, were acutely sensitive to the logic of military force and would temporize or retreat in the face of skillful and determined Western opposition to their expansion.

Kennan then advocated:
-U.S. counterpressure wherever the Soviets threatened to expand and predicted that such counterpressure would lead either to Soviet willingness to cooperate with the United States or perhaps eventually to an internal collapse of the Soviet government.
This view subsequently became the core of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union.

best known as an advocate of a policy of containment of Soviet expansion during the Cold War in his cablegram known as the "Long Telegram"

the first diplomatic application has been attributed to an anonymous Russian, spurred by a 1959 meeting between Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Est German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer--where Dulles advocated for open relations with the communist states of Eastern Europe

The Marshall Plan, formally called the European Recovery Program, was a landmark U.S. initiative to aid the recovery of Western European countries devastated by World War II.

U.S. spending totaled some $13.2 billion, which would amount to roughly $135 billion today.

The plan's genesis lay in a commencement speech by Secretary of State George Marshall at Harvard University on June 5, 1947. "It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace," he said. Congress approved the program the following March.

It stemmed from the belief that economic ruin could lead Europeans to support communism, making the continent's recovery a strategic imperative.

The main victors of World War II—the United States, France, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom—established the International Military Tribunal in the southern German city of Nuremberg in 1945.

Its purpose was to try the leaders responsible for the aggression and atrocities committed by the Axis powers, chiefly Germany, during the war.

The prosecutors—drawn from each of the four allies—indicted more than twenty Nazi leaders and seven Nazi organizations. (Adolf Hitler was not among them since he committed suicide that April, before the trials began.)

The trials of the most prominent leaders took place between November 1945 and October 1946, with nineteen found guilty and ten later executed by hanging.

Another tribunal established under the U.S.-led occupation of Japan served much the same purpose there.

President Harry Truman laid out the doctrine that would bear his name in a speech before the U.S. Congress on March 12, 1947. "It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures," he said.

In his speech, Truman requested $400 million from Congress to aid the two countries, which Congress provided in May. More broadly, the doctrine established that the United States would remain involved in Europe and not retreat from international affairs, as it had done after World War I.

As CFR Director of Studies James Lindsay recounts, Truman's approach was prompted by the news that the United Kingdom would end its aid to Greece and Turkey, part of retrenchment of Britain's international role after World War II.

The U.S. Congress passed the National Security Act of 1947 to reorganize defense and foreign policy decision-making as the United States grappled with its postwar role as a global power.

In the defense realm, the act combined the former War and Navy Departments into a new Department of Defense, with a secretary of defense at the head.

In the intelligence community, the act established the Central Intelligence Agency, a permanent new agency to succeed the Office of Strategic Services and other small agencies that had existed before.

Amid the difficulties of 1968 in the United States and around the world, U.S. and foreign leaders made progress on the longstanding goal of limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.

The NPT recognized the five states that had nuclear weapons at the time: the United States, China, France, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom. Countries without nuclear weapons pledged to forgo them. In exchange, the existing nuclear powers promised to work "in the direction of nuclear disarmament" and to help others develop peaceful nuclear technology.

-On June 12, the UN General Assembly endorsed a draft text for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) submitted by the United States and the Soviet Union the year before.
-Beginning on July 1, leaders from countries around the world signed on to the treaty.
-It entered into force on March 5, 1970, after ratification by the required number of countries.

Politics in Czechoslovakia experienced a sharp reversal in 1968.

In January, Alexander Dubcek, a communist reformer, became the country's leader. His introduction of increased political freedoms, which were strictly limited in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe at the time, produced what became known as the Prague Spring.

However, on August 20, the Soviet Union led an invasion of the country and, in April 1969, it installed a new, pro-Soviet regime under Gustav Husak that reversed Dubcek's liberalizations.

The term "summit" refers to certain meetings held by heads of state or government, such as presidents, prime ministers, and monarchs. These can be bilateral (between two leaders) or multilateral (among several leaders, e.g., the members of a regional organization or military alliance.)

The Geneva Summit, held in the Swiss city in July 1955, brought together leaders from the four major victorious powers of World War II: U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, French Prime Minister Edgar Faure, Soviet Premier Nikolai Bulganin, and British Prime Minister Anthony Eden.

Although the countries had been allies during the war, by the time of the summit, Cold War tensions had developed between the Soviet Union and the West. As such, the summit did not produce any major agreements.

The chief proposal discussed at the talks was President Eisenhower's "Open Skies" plan, which called for allowing countries to conduct aerial surveillance of each other's military sites in order to ensure compliance with any future arms control agreements. Soviet leaders forcefully rejected the idea at the time.

President Ronald Reagan, who began his tenure with an adversarial stance toward the Soviet Union, held four summits with Mikhail Gorbachev following the latter's appointment as Soviet leader in 1985.

Their first summit came in Geneva in November of that year, producing modest agreements on various issues.

In October 1986 they met in Reykjavik, where they broached the idea of eliminating each country's entire nuclear arsenal. However, they did not reach agreement even on more modest limits, reportedly because of Reagan's unwillingness to abandon the Strategic Defense Initiative, a missile defense program.

The leaders did reach a major arms control agreement at a summit in Washington in December 1987, signing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated a whole class of nuclear arms for the first time.

At the summit, Bush and Gorbachev sought to bring a symbolic end to the Cold War that had divided the two countries and their allies for some four decades.

At the time, the Soviet Union had not yet collapsed, but the Berlin Wall had fallen the previous month and communist rule was eroding across Eastern Europe.

President John F. Kennedy held his first and only summit with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961. The summit came less than two months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, a failed U.S.-backed effort to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who was increasingly friendly with Moscow.

In this context, Kennedy himself considered the Vienna summit a failure, telling a journalist that Khrushchev "savaged me." According to reports, the Soviet leader berated the president over U.S. foreign policy and suggested that war could result from a failure to settle the fate of Berlin, then divided between zones controlled by the Soviet Union and Western powers.

President Richard Nixon signed the SALT I agreements with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev—so called because they emerged from the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks—at a summit in Moscow on May 26, 1972. They were the first-ever agreed limits on U.S. and Soviet nuclear arms.

The landmark accords included the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, an interim agreement freezing some offensive nuclear weapons, and other measures.

President Jimmy Carter hosted Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for the Camp David Summit in September 1978.

The nearly two-week summit, which followed unsuccessful negotiations between Egypt and Israel in previous months, did not produce the full peace agreement between the two countries that Carter sought. Egypt and Israel successfully concluded a peace treaty, facilitated again by President Carter, in March 1979—the first such agreement between Israel and any of its Arab neighbors.

The summit yielded two agreements, known as the Camp David Accords, which laid out frameworks for a peace treaty and for Palestinian governance in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The North American Leaders Summit brings together the presidents of the United States and Mexico and the prime minister of Canada. The event is sometimes informally called the Three Amigos Summit.

The summits, which began in 2005, are ostensibly annual events but have not occurred in some years. There have been nine, so far, the most recent in the Canadian capital of Ottawa in 2016.

Soviet foreign minister Viacheslav Molotov and German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop signed a nonaggression pact between their countries on August 23, 1939. It is popularly known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact after the two ministers.

In the agreement, the parties pledged not to attack each other, among other provisions. In a secret protocol, they divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence, essentially giving each side license to invade agreed territories without resistance from the other.

Germany quickly did just this, invading Poland on September 1 in the opening move of World War II in Europe. The Soviet Union followed, invading the part of Poland consigned to its sphere of influence, as well as Finland and the Baltic States.

Wishing to help friendly countries in the early days of World War II, but constrained by law and public opinion from becoming directly involved in the fight, President Franklin Roosevelt advanced the idea of the Lend-Lease Program.

This entailed lending military supplies to other countries and being paid back, sometimes after a delay, in non-monetary ways.

Roosevelt first signed an agreement with the United Kingdom on September 2, 1940, in which the United States gave the British fifty destroyers in exchange for a ninety-nine-year lease on territories in Canada and the Caribbean that could be used as U.S. bases.

George Marshall, secretary of state from 1947 to 1949, proposed a program to help European economies rebuild after World War II.

The program, which became known as the Marshall Plan, arose from the view that economic relief would help preserve peace and resist the advance of communism.

CRS reports that foreign aid has made up less than 1.5 percent of the federal budget every year since 1990.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group mainly comprising wealthy countries, the United States has long given the most foreign aid, excluding military assistance, of any country.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group mainly comprising wealthy countries, the United States in 2017 gave economic aid equivalent to around 0.18 percent of its gross national income (GNI).

This put the United States twenty-second among the thirty-five OECD members—far behind Sweden, the most generous donor by this measure, which gave 1.01 percent of its GNI.

As a general rule, the United States has given the largest amounts of aid in recent years to important strategic and military partners.

The Congressional Research Service reports that Iraq received almost $5.3 billion in U.S. foreign aid in fiscal year 2016.

Afghanistan was the second-largest recipient, with almost $5.1 billion, followed by Israel, with around $3.1 billion.

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa received 27 percent of all U.S. foreign assistance in 2016, followed by sub-Saharan Africa at 25 percent.

the two treaties, negotiated over six months in 1977, would slowly relinquish American control of the canal, built by the US in the early twentieth century, to Panama, while committing Panama to remain neutral forever and guarantee access to the canal to ships of all nations. They provoked sharp controversy: conservative Republicans saw giving up the canal as a sign of American weakness (Sen. Jesse Helms of NC and Ronald Reagan, who first ran for president in 1976, were leaders of a popular movement to hold on to the canal, a symbol of Yankee imperialism throughout Latin America, but to those conservatives a proud American accomplishment and asset) while proponents of the treaties argued that they were a proper acknowledgment that the United States had no right to claim Panamanian territory (which we had done in effect by ruling the Panama Canal Zone unilaterally for seventy-five years) and that returning the canal to Panama would help our diplomacy in Latin America.

Proliferation refers to the spread of weapons capabilities among countries or other actors, such as terrorist groups. It normally concerns weapons of mass destruction, meaning nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, but can refer to small arms and other capabilities as well.

Scholars and policymakers distinguish between two types of proliferation. Vertical proliferation refers to the increase in capabilities by a party that already possesses them, for example when an existing nuclear-armed country builds more, or more powerful, warheads.

The United States has historically extended security guarantees to its closest allies, pledging to defend them in case of attack.

Since a potential attacker must fear a U.S. response, this is known as extended deterrence, meaning an effort to prevent an attack on another country by threatening retaliation. Since such a response could include the use of U.S. nuclear weapons, the security guarantees are informally known as the nuclear umbrella.

The United States and other countries have used a wide variety of foreign policy tools for nuclear nonproliferation.

Among the best known are economic sanctions, which in this context seek to pressure leaders into rethinking a decision to pursue nuclear arms, and diplomatic agreements, which usually seek to limit nuclear activities and monitor compliance in exchange for certain benefits.

These tools are often used in combination for example, in recent years, the United States has used both sanctions and diplomacy in seeking to limit or reduce the nuclear capabilities of Iran and North Korea.

U.S. alliances, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also work as nonproliferation tools since the security guarantees they entail can make other countries conclude they do not need their own nuclear weapons.

The use of military force as a nuclear nonproliferation tool—to destroy nuclear weapons, delivery systems (such as missiles), or related equipment and facilities—has been uncommon. However, Israel has twice used force against nuclear ambitions that it considered a threat.

The first occasion came in June 1981, when Israeli bombers destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq before it became operational. The successful mission was a technical feat for the Israeli Air Force, and Iraq never came to possess nuclear weapons. However, at the time the strike was widely condemned by other countries, including the United States.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) was opened for signature in July 1968 and took effect in March 1970.

The NPT aimed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the five countries—the United States, China, France, the Soviet Union (today Russia), and the United Kingdom—that already possessed them. Under the treaty, these existing nuclear powers were recognized as such but pledged to work "in the direction of nuclear disarmament."

These states also agreed not to transfer nuclear weapons or related technology to non-nuclear states, and to help them develop peaceful nuclear technology.
States without nuclear weapons pledged not to develop them.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was established in 1957 with the aim of fostering the peaceful development of nuclear technology while preventing its use for military aims.

The organization stemmed from an address to the United Nations by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953, known as the "Atoms for Peace" speech. In the context of the spiraling nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, Eisenhower sought to turn the focus of nuclear efforts from weapons to "agriculture, medicine, and other peaceful activities," including electricity.

Stopping or limiting the testing of nuclear devices has been a focus of nuclear nonproliferation efforts since the early Cold War.

The United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom (the only three nuclear-armed states at the time) began negotiations on an overall nuclear test ban in 1958, eventually concluding the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963. This prohibited nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in space, and underwater.

It was not until 1996 that the CTBT emerged from negotiations in the United Nations. U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the CTBT, which bars all nuclear explosions, in September 1996. However, the U.S. Senate did not ratify it.

The United States and the Soviet Union reached several nuclear arms control agreements as part of their efforts to manage tensions and reduce the threat of nuclear conflict during the Cold War. Among these are the SALT I agreements, so called because they resulted from the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks that began in 1969.

The main piece of the SALT I accords, reached in 1972, was the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which aimed to preserve each side's nuclear deterrent by limiting the development of missile defense systems.

The two sides then reached the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987. This was the first agreement that eliminated a whole category of nuclear missiles, banning ground-launched nuclear-armed missiles with ranges of roughly 300 to 3,400 miles.

A third milestone was the START I agreement (named for the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) signed in 1991, which limited nuclear warheads and long-range delivery vehicles.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the formal name for the nuclear deal reached by Iran, six other countries, and the European Union in July 2015.

(The other countries, known as the P5+1, are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—the United States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom—plus Germany.)

The agreement limited Iran's nuclear activities, such as uranium enrichment, and established a monitoring regime under the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure compliance. In exchange, Iran received relief from sanctions that the United States and other parties had imposed over the country's nuclear efforts.

Critics of the deal argued that it fell short by allowing the limits on Iranian activities to expire after specified periods and by failing to cover troubling Iranian behavior outside the nuclear realm.

The Six Party Talks were a diplomatic forum focused on North Korea's nuclear activities that included the United States, China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, and South Korea.

The talks began in August 2003, following the collapse the previous year of the Agreed Framework, a nuclear agreement between the United States and North Korea reached in 1994.

The Six Party Talks produced another agreement in September 2005 in which North Korea agreed to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, rejoin the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (which it had left in 2003), and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring in exchange for food and energy aid.

Subsequent years saw some progress toward implementing the agreement but also a series of setbacks, including North Korea's first test of a nuclear weapon in October 2006.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Race to Control Space

“We have vowed that we shall see space filled not with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding"

-President Kennedy, Rice University, Houston, Texas, September 12, 1962

President Kennedy was eager for the United States to lead the way in exploring space. The Soviet Union was ahead of the United States, having launched the first satellite Sputnik in 1957 and the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin to orbit around the earth in 1961.

Read the telegram and the two memos and answer the SIX questions that follow:

Telegram A .
On April 12, 1961 cosmonaut Yuri A. Gagarin from the Soviet Union orbited around the
earth in 108 minutes. The same day President Kennedy wrote a telegram to Premier Nikita
Khrushchev congratulating the Soviets on the first successful manned flight.

Memo B .
A few days later President Kennedy wrote a memo on April 20, 1961 to Vice President
Lyndon B. Johnson, who was the chairman of the Space Council.

Memo C .
Eight days later, Vice President Johnson responded to President Kennedy’s memo.

1. In the telegram to Premier Nikita Khrushchev, how does President Kennedy say he would like the United States and the Soviet Union to work on exploring outer space?

In the telegram to Premier Nikita Khrushchev, President Kennedy congratulates the Soviets for being the first nation to send a man into space. Kennedy also states that he hopes the United States and the Soviet Union can work together on exploring outer space.

2. In the memo to Vice President Lyndon Johnson, what is President Kennedy's main objective?

In the memo to Vice President Lyndon Johnson, President Kennedy's main objective is to beat the Soviets in the race for space. He desires for the Chairman of the Space Council to make a survey of where they stand in space. Kennedy wants to know how much it will cost, if they are working 24 hours a day on existing programs and if not, why not, should they put an emphasis on nuclear fuel, chemical, or liquid fuel, and if they are making the maximum effort.

3. What is the main difference between what President Kennedy says in the telegram and what he says in the memo in terms of how the Americans and the Soviets should explore
outer space?

There is a big difference between what Kennedy says in the telegram and what he says in the memo in terms of how the Americans and the Soviets should explore outer space. In the telegram, Kennedy suggests that the space race is not a competition and that he hopes the Soviets and the United States can work together to explore outer space. Kennedy seems happy and congratulatory towards the Soviets for their success in being the first nation to put a man in space. However, in the memo Kennedy seems very determined in having the United States beating the Soviets. He wants to know how they can beat the Soviets and how much it will cost. Also, he wants people working on their existing programs 24 hours a day and wants recommendations on how they can speed up the work.

4. Why do you think President Kennedy appears to be giving two conflicting statements?

I think President Kennedy appears to be giving two conflicting statements so he doesn't make the United States seem weak and the Soviets seem superior to them. If he acts like he is happy for the Soviets and has them believing he wants to work together, then the Soviets don't know how worried he actually is. Also, letting the Soviets think they beat the U.S would do nothing but determine them to work harder. In the telegram, Kennedy wants it to appear as if he isn't worried about the Soviets while he is secretly trying to increase U.S power in space through his memo to the Vice President.

5. How does Vice President Johnson connect the space race with the Cold War in his April 28th memo to President Kennedy?

President Johnson connects the space race with the Cold War in his April 28th memo to President Kennedy by stating that in order for the U.S to achieve such leadership, they need to make the necessary hard decisions and to use their resources since they have greater resources than the U.S.S.R. Johnson indicates that other countries tend to align themselves with the country that they think will be the world leader. With the Soviets ahead of the U.S in the space race, other countries would aligning themselves with the Soviets. The main goal of the Cold War was to stop the spread of Communism and be superior to the Soviet Union. Johnson states that in order for the United States to pass the Soviets, they need to act now if they want to gain leadership.

6. What are Vice President Johnson’s suggestions for the President?

Vice President Johnson's suggestions for the President are to start making a strong effort in beating Stalin because if they continue to wait leadership will have gone so far under Russian control and the United States will not be able to catch up. Johnson wants more effort and resources put into their space programs, however, in order to do that they would need a lot of money. Johnson suggests that the United States should pursue programs such as communications satellites, meteorological and weather satellites, and navigation and mapping satellites. Vice President Johnson suggests that if the United States acts now and starts becoming very determined and serious with their efforts in improving their space programs, they have a chance of beating the Soviet Union in the race for space.

To Move the World

The last great campaign of John F. Kennedy’s life was not the battle for reelection he did not live to wage, but the struggle for a sustainable peace with the Soviet Union. To Move the Worldrecalls the extraordinary days from October 1962 to September 1963, when JFK marshaled the power of oratory and his remarkable political skills to establish more peaceful relations with the Soviet Union and a dramatic slowdown in the proliferation of nuclear arms.

Kennedy and his Soviet counterpart, Nikita Khrushchev, led their nations during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the two superpowers came eyeball to eyeball at the nuclear abyss. This near-death experience shook both leaders deeply. Jeffrey D. Sachs shows how Kennedy emerged from the Missile crisis with the determination and prodigious skills to forge a new and less threatening direction for the world. Together, he and Khrushchev would pull the world away from the nuclear precipice, charting a path for future peacemakers to follow.

During his final year in office, Kennedy gave a series of speeches in which he pushed back against the momentum of the Cold War to persuade the world that peace with the Soviets was possible. The oratorical high point came on June 10, 1963, when Kennedy delivered the most important foreign policy speech of the modern presidency. He argued against the prevailing pessimism that viewed humanity as doomed by forces beyond its control. Mankind, argued Kennedy, could bring a new peace into reality through a bold vision combined with concrete and practical measures.

Achieving the first of those measures in the summer of 1963, the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, required more than just speechmaking, however. Kennedy had to use his great gifts of persuasion on multiple fronts—with fractious allies, hawkish Republican congressmen, dubious members of his own administration, and the American and world public—to persuade a skeptical world that cooperation between the superpowers was realistic and necessary. Sachs shows how Kennedy campaigned for his vision and opened the eyes of the American people and the world to the possibilities of peace.

Featuring the full text of JFK’s speeches from this period, as well as striking photographs, To Move the World gives us a startlingly fresh perspective on Kennedy’s presidency and a model for strong leadership and problem solving in our time.

To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace (2014) discusses President Kennedy’s crusade for world peace. Sachs covers Kennedy’s distrust of the Soviet Union and Cuba that led to his early blunders – such as the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. But it was these very events that forced him to see the Cold War from a different perspective: What would happen if he really had crossed that line? If he had blinked instead of Khrushchev? The world had been on the brink of a nuclear holocaust, and instead of preventing it, he could have just as easily caused it.

But Kennedy’s influences didn’t start with the Cuban Missile Crisis. It didn’t even start with Germany’s invasion of Poland (he was living in England at the time and went to hear Churchill speak in Parliament). In started when he was 15 and first read Churchill’s memoirs of WWI. From there on out, Churchill was his biggest hero – and the man after whom he would fashion his ideologies and his rhetoric.

Because of his heavy influence, Sachs spends a great amount of time studying Kennedy’s rhetoric on peace. And by extension, Churchill’s rhetoric on peace. And what may come as shocking, on Eisenhower’s rhetoric on peace. After all, Eisenhower gave one of the top three Presidential Farewell Warnings just a mere three days before Kennedy gave the most famous inaugural address of all time. And they followed similar themes. Moreover, when planning out his first General Assembly speech in 1961 as well as his ‘Peace Speech’ in 1963, Kennedy studied Churchill’s greatest speeches including his ‘Sinews of Peace’ speech from 1946 (aka Iron Curtain speech) as well as Eisenhower’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ speech (1953) and ‘Chance for Peace’ speech (1953). These speeches not only influenced Kennedy’s rhetoric, but also paved the way of his speeches.

To Move the World covers Kennedy’s quest for peace – not to appease Khrushchev and his policy’s, but to understand the other side, to negotiate, and to find a way to peace. To move away from the dangerous arms race and the treat of nuclear holocaust. It follows Kennedy’s plea for a nuclear test ban treaty, which was he able to successfully pass and sign before his death.

To be perfectly honest, while the book does a good job of balancing Kennedy’s concern for peace and his insistence on staying militarily strong, not backing down to the Soviets. He spoke strongly against Communism, yet sought ways to get along with the Soviets. (Yet Sachs could have been a bit more fair to Eisenhower), and I certainly could have done without the last two chapters, which had very little to do with Kennedy’s quest for peace. That being said, like said earlier, the book did a fair job of presenting Kennedy’s quest for peace. I gave it 3 stars.

On the Brink of Nuclear War

Special Report: As nuclear war looms in Korea, the life-or-death question is whether President Trump and his team can somehow marshal the skill and strength of President Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis, writes historian William R. Polk.

In the first part of this essay, I gave my interpretation of the background of the current confrontation in Korea. I argued that, while the past is the mother of the present, it has several fathers. What I remember is not necessarily what you remember so, in this sense, the present also shapes or reshapes the past.

A nuclear test detonation carried out in Nevada on April 18, 1953.

In my experience as a policy planner, I found that only by taking note of the perception of events as they are differently held by the participants could one understand or deal with present actions and ideas. I have tried to sketch out views of the past as we, the North Koreans and the South Koreans, differently view them in Part 1 of this essay.

Now I want to undertake a refinement of the record I have laid out. I want first to show how our perception, the interpretation we place on the events that swirl past us, adds a new and formative element to them. Whether consciously or not, we tend to put events into a pattern. So the pattern itself becomes part of the problem we face in trying to understand events. Staking out a path – an interpretation or a theory of what random bits and pieces mean or how they will be interpreted and acted upon by others — is a complex and contentious task.

Getting it wrong can lead us astray or even be very dangerous. So the interpreter, the strategist, must always be tested to see if his interpretation makes sense and the path he lays out is the one we want to travel. I will make this explicit below.

My experience in what was certainly the most dangerous situation America ever experienced, the Cuban Missile Crisis, led me to believe that at least in a crisis how we think about events and what we remember of the past often determines our actions and may be the deciding difference between life and death. So here I will begin with the mindset that underlay American policy for the last half century.

Anyone who reads the press or watches TV is beset with countless scraps of information. In my experience in government service, the deluge of information was almost paralyzing. Some of my colleagues joked that the way to defeat our adversaries was to give them access to what passed over our desks every day. It would immobilize them as it sometimes immobilized us.

How to separate from the flow the merely interesting from the important and how to relate one event to others were demanding tasks. Making them useful has been undertaken by strategists time after time over the last several thousand years. Machiavelli is the best known among us, but he was far from the first. [I have dealt with these issues in detail in Neighbors and Strangers: The Fundamentals of Foreign Affairs (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).]

Theory of Deterrence

The latest and arguably the most persuasive recent attempt to develop a sort of framework or matrix to bring some sense of order and some ability to understand events has been the theory of deterrence. While “just a theory,” it set American policy toward the Soviet Union in the Cold War. It was developed to understand and deal with the Soviet Union in the Cold War, but it will determine much of what America tries to do with North Korea today.

President John F. Kennedy addressing the nation regarding the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

To simplify and summarize, Cold War strategists led by such men as Henry Kissinger, Thomas Schelling and Bernard Brodie believed that ultimately relationships among nations were mathematical. Deterrence thus meant gathering the elements that could be added up by both sides. If country “A” had overwhelming power, country “B” would be deterred in its own interest from actions that were detrimental to them. Failure to “do the sums” correctly in the “game of nations” was to “misplay.”

Emotion and even politics had no role in the real world. It was realpolitik that governed. Put another way, the weak would add up their capabilities and would necessarily give way to the strong to avoid being destroyed.

The great Greek historian Thucydides long ago set the tone: “Right, as the world goes,” he wrote, “is only in question between equals in power the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Only by acting in this mindset would the national interests, the real interests, of each country be preserved and peace among nations be achieved.

Deterrence worked reasonably well up to and including the Cuban Missile Crisis. But during that crisis, as some of the theory’s critics had long held, a potentially fatal flaw became evident.

The flaw is that “national interest” – what can be added up or quantified as the assets and what gives it its strength — is not necessarily always coincident with “interest of government.” That is, governments may not always be guided by a rational calculation of national interest. There are times when leaders cannot afford, even if they precisely add up the figures, to act according to such slow-moving impulses as national interest. They may be subject to quite different and more urgent impulses. They may be emotional or otherwise be irrational, fearful of their lives or worried that they would lose their positions, or they may be driven by public opinion or by the different calculations of such other centers of power as the military. Being guided by the abstract calculation of national interest may then be impossible.

Let me illustrate this from my experience in the Cuban Missile Crisis, then in a war game the Department of Defense (DOD) organized to reexamine the Missile Crisis and finally in a meeting in Moscow with my Russian counterparts.

In the Missile Crisis, both President Kennedy (certainly) and Chairman Khrushchev (probably) were under almost unbearable pressure not only in trying to figure out how to deal with the events but also from the warnings, importuning and urging of their colleagues, rivals, supporters and from their military commanders. Whether either leader was in danger of overthrow of his regime or assassination is still unknown, but both were at least potentially at risk because the stakes were, literally, the fate of the world and opinions on how to deal with the possibility of ruinous war were strongly held.

Obviously, the loss to both of their nations in the event of a nuclear exchange would have been catastrophic so the national interest of both was clear: it was to avoid war. But how to avoid it was disputatious. And it was not nations that were making decisions it was the leaders, and their interests were only in part coincident with national interest.

We were lucky that at least Kennedy realized this dilemma and took steps to protect himself. What he did is not well understood so I will briefly summarize the main points. First, he identified General Lyman Lemnitzer, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), as the main hawk. Lemnitzer was pushing him toward a nuclear war and had shown his hand by presenting a “black” plan (“Operation Northwoods”) to be carried out by the JCS to trigger war with Cuba.

[Curiously, “Operation Northwoods” is hardly known even today. It was described by the eminent scholar on intelligence James Bamford in Body of Secrets (New York: Doubleday, 2001), 82 ff, as the “launching [of] a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an-ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba.” Provocations were to be manufactured: hijacking of aircraft, murders and the explosion of the rocket that was carrying astronaut John Glenn into space. Lemnitzer lied to Congress, denying the plan’s existence, and had many of documents destroyed. Although he was dismissed as chairman of the JCS by Kennedy, the organization he formed within the JCS continued to plan covert actions. It would have been surprising if Kennedy did not worry about a possible attempt on his government.]

Fearing a Coup d’Etat

Apparently realizing that the plan could easily have been turned into a coup d’état, Kennedy removed Lemnitzer as far from Washington as he could (to Europe to be the NATO commander). Kennedy also assembled a group of elder statesmen, most of whom had served under the Eisenhower and Truman administrations in positions senior to the current military commanders and were identified as conservatives — far from Kennedy’s image as a liberal.

President John F. Kennedy meeting with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev on June 3, 1961, in Vienna. (State Department photo)

Ostensibly, he sought their advice, but in practice what he sought was their approval of his decisions. He also was careful to instruct the public in his speech on the Monday, the first public acknowledgement of the crisis, that he was firmly in control and was determined to protect American interests.

Then, in the solution to the crisis, removing the American missiles from Turkey, he pretended that their removal was not a price he had to pay to end the crisis. Thus, in several ways, he neutralized potential critics, at least during the crucial time of the Crisis. But, not long afterwards, he was assassinated by persons, forces, or interests about whom and whose motivation there is still much controversy. At minimum, we know that powerful people, including Lemnitzer, thought Kennedy had sold out national interest in pursuit of the interest of his administration.

At the same time in Moscow, Mr. Khrushchev probably risked his life by accepting the humiliation imposed on his regime by the forced withdrawal of Russian missiles from Cuba. Apparently, for of course we do not know, he felt less immediate danger than Kennedy because the Soviet system had always distrusted and guarded against its military commanders. A Lemnitzer there would probably have been “disappeared,” not just sent into a polite exile. And hovering beside each of the senior officers of the Soviet army was a political commissar who was responsible to the civilian administration – that is, to the Communist Party leadership – for the officer’s every move, every contact, almost every thought. The military did what the civil leadership told it to do.

I presume Khrushchev believed that he had his colleagues with him, but that cannot have been very reassuring given the record of the Politburo. And, when he died, Khrushchev or at least his reputation paid a price: he was refused the supreme accolade of Soviet leadership he was not buried with other Soviet heroes in the Kremlin Wall. That we know what we cannot know is whether or not he thought he was, or actually was, in danger of being overthrown.

What is clear is that he was strong enough – and faced with no blatant or destructive action by America – that he was able to surmount the “interest of government” to protect “national interest.” In short, he was not backed into a corner.

Were it not for the strength and bravery of both men, we might not have survived the Missile Crisis. Obviously, we cannot always be so served. Sometimes, we are apt to be dependent on weaker, more timorous and less steady men. This is not an abstract issue, and it has come back to haunt us in the Korean confrontation as it surely will in other confrontations. Understanding it may be a matter of our survival. That was not just my view but was also was even then the nagging worry of the DOD.

Thus, in the aftermath of the crisis, the DOD sought reassurance that deterrence had worked and would continue to work. That is, it sought to test the theory that leaders would add up the sums and be governed by what they found rather than by political, emotional or other criteria.

A Nuclear War Game

To this end, the DOD commissioned the conflict strategist Thomas Schelling to design and run a politico-military war game to push the experience of the Missile Crisis to the extreme, that is to find out what the Russians would they do if they were dealt a severe, painful and humiliating nuclear blow?

A scene from “Dr. Strangelove,” in which the bomber pilot (played by actor Slim Pickens) rides a nuclear bomb to its target in the Soviet Union.

Schelling’s game pitted two small teams of senior, fully-briefed U.S. government officers against one another in the Pentagon. Red Team represented the USSR and Blue Team the U.S. Each was provided with all the information Khrushchev would have had. Shortly after assembling, we were told that Blue team destroyed a Red Team city with a nuclear weapon. What would Red Team do?

Since it was far weaker than the United States, by the deterrence theory it would cave in and not retaliate.

To Schelling’s exasperation, the game proved the opposite. It showed that action only in part depended on a rational calculation of national interest but rather in circumstances of crisis, would be governed by the political imperatives faced by the government. I have discussed this in detail elsewhere, but in brief, the members of Red Team, who were among the most experienced and gifted men from the State Department, the White House, the CIA and the DOD, chaired by the very conservative admiral who was Chief of Naval Operations, decided unanimously that Red Team had no option but to go to general war as fast and as powerfully as it could.

Shelling stopped the game, saying that we had “misplayed” and that if we were right he would have to give up the theory of deterrence. We laid out the reasons for our decision.

That decision was taken on two grounds: the first was that acquiescence was not politically possible. No government, Russian or American or other, could accept the humiliation of the loss of a city and survive the fury of those who felt betrayed. Even if at ruinous cost, it would strike back. This is a lesson apparently still unlearned.

Indeed, it could cause the death of each person reading this essay if applied in real life in a nuclear first strike as I will shortly make clear in discussing the Korean crisis.

The second basis for the decision was that, despite Kissinger, Schelling and other “limited nuclear war” advocates, there is no such thing as limited nuclear war in the real world. A nuclear strike would inevitably lead to retaliation, nuclear if possible, and that retaliation would lead to counter-retaliation.

In the war game, Red Team realized that if Mr. Khrushchev were to retaliate for America’s destruction of Baku by incinerating St. Louis, it would have posed a challenge, regardless of who was at fault or what the odds of success were, that Kennedy could not have ducked. He would certainly have been overthrown and almost certainly assassinated if he had not responded. He almost certainly would have destroyed a second Russian city.

Tit-for-tat had no stopping point. Each response would lead to the next and quickly to general war. So Red Team went immediately to the best of its bad options: hitting back immediately with everything it had: in short, we opted for general war.

Fortunately that scenario was not tested. In the real Cuban Missile Crisis, no city was incinerated. Neither Kennedy nor Khrushchev was pushed beyond “calculation.” But it was a very close call. My own hunch, from having been one of the 25 or so civilians closely involved in the real-life crisis, is that Kennedy and his team could not have held firm much longer than the Thursday or Friday of that terrible week.

The implications are clear – and terrifying – but neither Shelling nor other Cold Warriors have accepted them. We are still today approaching the conflict in Korea with the mindset that our war game showed was fatally flawed.

The last test of the result of the war game came when I lectured on strategic planning and participated in a seminar on the Missile Crisis with the members of the then principal advisory group to the Politburo, the Institute of World Economy and International Affairs of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In a word, my opposite numbers there agreed with the analysis I have just laid out: Khrushchev could not have accepted an American nuclear attack. He would have responded even though he realized that the overwhelming advantage – the “numbers” – were against him.

They also agreed that in practical terms there was no such thing as limited nuclear war. A “limited” nuclear strike would be, inevitably, the first step in a general war.

Lacking Wise Leaders

I will speculate below on how the actual events of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the result of the war game might apply to the current conflict in Korea. Here let me anticipate by saying that we have no reason to believe that the men who will decide the issue are of the caliber of Kennedy and Khrushchev.

President Donald Trump, speaking in Warsaw, Poland, on July 6, 2017. (Screen shot from

Both Kennedy and Khrushchev were strong, pragmatic, experienced and well supported men. In today’s conflict between the United States and North Korea, neither Donald Trump nor Kim Jong Un evince similar attributes. Some critics even question their sanity. But, they will make the decisions, so I focus on them, their motivations and their capacities. I begin with Mr. Trump.

I have never met Mr. Trump and our backgrounds are very different so I am driven to two, admittedly incomplete and questionable, ways of understanding him. The first of these is his own description of his thought process and way of acting. The three characteristics that seem to me most germane to foreign affairs and particularly to the confrontation in Korea are these:

–On November 12, 2015, Mr. Trump declared, “I love war.” In fact, as the record showed, he went to considerable trouble to deny himself the pleasures of going into harm’s way during the Vietnam War. And, now, should he decide to take America to war, he would not put his own life in danger.

In my time in Washington, such “war-lovers from afar“ were often referred to as “chicken-hawks.” They loved to talk about war and to urge others to get into it, but, like Mr. Trump, they never volunteered for action and never, in their pronouncements, dwelt on the horror of actual combat. For them war was another TV episode where the good guys got a bit dusted up but always won.

Mr. Trump presumably meant by the word “war” something very different from real war since he explained, “I’m good at war. I’ve had a lot of wars on my own. I’m really good at war. I love war, in a certain way but only when we win.”

For Mr. Trump, as his actions show, every business deal was a sort of war. He conducted it as what military strategists call a zero-sum game: the winner took all and the loser got nothing. There was little or no negotiation. “Attack” was the operational mode and his opponent would be driven to defeat by the threat of financial ruin. This was the “certain way” he called his many “wars on my own.”

The record bears him out. He overwhelmed rivals with lawsuits against which they had to defend themselves at ruinous cost, convinced them that if they did not acquiesce he would destroy them and was unrelenting. He was very good at it. He made his fortune in this form of “war.” He seems to believe that he can apply his experience in business to international affairs. But nations are not so likely to go out of business as the rivals he met in real estate transactions and some of them are armed with nuclear weapons.

–On several occasions, Mr. Trump set out his understanding of the role of nuclear weapons. In 2015, as a candidate, he was quoted as saying, “For me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.” But I find no evidence that he realizes what “devastation” really means. It is one thing to drive a business rival into bankruptcy and quite another to oversee the burning to death of hundreds of thousands or millions of people and relegating still more to homelessness and starvation in a ruined environment.

One supposes that he is aware of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but they are misleading. Modern nuclear weapons are far more powerful: a one megaton weapon, for example, is about 50 times as powerful as the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima. Those of us who dealt with the threat of nuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crisis were aware of the effects of such “standard” weapons.

I see no evidence that Mr. Trump knows what a nuclear war would actually do. Indeed, he is quoted as saying, “what is the point of having nuclear weapons if you don’t use them?” He will find advisers who will tell him that they must be used. The ghost of General Lemnitzer hovers near the Oval Office.

Proud of Unpredictability

–Mr. Trump prides himself on unpredictability. Unpredictability was his business strategy. As he told an interviewer from CBS on January 1, 2016, “You want to be unpredictable … And somebody recently said — I made a great business deal. And the person on the other side was interviewed by a newspaper. And how did Trump do this? And they said, he`s so unpredictable. And I didn`t know if he meant it positively or negative. It turned out he meant it positively.”

Graphic for “The Celebrity Apprentice” when it was starring Donald Trump.

Another time Trump said on TV “I want to be unpredictable.” The record shows his use of the ploy, but perhaps it is more than just a ploy. Perhaps it is a manifestation of his personality, so I want to probe its meaning.

Years ago, I was informed that the CIA maintained a staff of psychoanalysts to profile foreign leaders. If the office still exists, the doctors presumably do not practice their arts on American officials, and certainly not on the President. As part of their professional code, psychiatrists are not supposed to diagnose anyone they have not personally examined, and I doubt that anyone will be able to get Mr. Trump to lie down on the coach.

But, as psychiatrists Peter Kramer and Sally Satel have pointed out, Mr. Trump has shown himself to be “impulsive, erratic, belligerent and vengeful” so “many experts believe that Mr. Trump has a narcissistic personality disorder.” Reacting to having such a leader with his hand on the nuclear trigger, Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin introduced a bill to establish an “Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity” (H.R. 1987) as authorized by the 25 th Amendment to the Constitution. It has not been acted upon and it allows the President latitude to “pardon” himself.

Since his actions and the efforts of others do not offer much insight, I suggest his actions lend themselves to a perhaps instructive analogy, the game of “chicken.”

–In “chicken,” two drivers aim their speeding cars at one another. The one who flinches, turns aside, or (as Secretary of State Dean Rusk put it to me during the Cuban Missile Crisis) “blinks,” is the chicken. The winner is the driver who convinces the loser that he is irrational, deaf to all appeals and blind to danger. He cannot get out of the way.

In Mr. Trump’s strategy of war, the irrational man wins because he cannot be reached with any warning, argument or advice. Knowing this, the other man loses precisely because he is rational. Three things follow from this analogy. They seem evident in Mr. Trump’s approach to the issues or war or peace:

The first is that irrationality, ironically becomes a rational strategy. If one can convince his opponents that he is cannot be reasoned with, he wins. This has worked for years in business for Mr. Trump. I see no reason to believe that he will give it up.

The second is that the driver of the car does not need information or advice. They are irrelevant or even detrimental to his strategy. So, we see that Mr. Trump pays no attention to the professionals who man the 16 agencies set up by previous administrations to provide information or intelligence.

One example where his professed plan of action flies in the face of the intelligence appreciation is Iran. As the former deputy director of the CIA David Cohen found “disconcerting,” Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that Iran was not abiding by the terms of the Iranian-American deal on nuclear weapons before “finding the intelligence to back it up.” But that is inherent in Trump’s strategy of confrontation. He surely knows – but does not care — that the entire intelligence community holds that Iran has abided by the deal.

In Trump’s mind, intelligence analysts are “back seat drivers” and should keep quiet. By questioning his blindness, they suggest to the driver of the other car that Mr. Trump might swerve aside. Thus, they threaten to destroy the irrationality that is the essence of his strategy.

And, third, what Mr. Trump, the “driver” of the car in the “chicken” confrontation, does need is absolute loyalty. Those who sit beside him must never question how he is driving. Any hint of their trying to dissuade his actions threatens to destroy his strategy. So, as we see almost daily, at any hint of disagreement, he pushes his copilots out of the car. Indeed, at least one hardly even got into the “car” before being pushed out the door.

His actions both in business and in the presidency illustrate these points. He takes pride in irrational actions, shifting from one position to another, even its opposite, on what appears to be a whim. He disdains advice even from the intelligence services and also from presumably loyal members of his inner circle. What he demands is absolute loyalty.

Finally, it seems to me that Mr. Trump has understood, far better than most of us, that the public likes to be entertained. It is bored by consistency. It doesn’t pay much attention to explanation or analysis. And as the financially successful record of the TV industry and the sorry record of the book publishing industry show, the public wants entertainment. Mr. Trump caters to popular taste: every episode is new every remark, simple every threat, dramatic and, perhaps most powerfully of all, he echoes angers, disappointments, hurts, desires that many of his supporters also feel.

This mode of operation worked for Trump in the business world. His image of ruthlessness, determination and even irrationality caused some of the biggest potential rivals to get out of his way and many others to accept his terms rather than risk a collision. It is not Trump or his mode of operation that has changed but the context in which he operates. Citibank with which he clashed did not have nuclear weapons North Korea does. So how does Kim Jong Un measure up?

Measuring Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un is the third generation of the North Korean leadership. That position is almost beyond the comprehension of modern Westerners. Ruling dynasties went out of fashion in the First World War. But perhaps consideration of “dynasty” can be made to yield useful insights. One who tried to learn what dynastic succession could tell us was the great medieval North African philosopher of history, Ibn Khaldun.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Observing Berber and Arab societies, Ibn Khaldun found that the first dynasty, sweeping in from the desert, was made up of men who were rough and vigorous their sons still remembered times of struggle and retained their hardihood, but the third generation grew use to ease and settled into luxury. Its leaders kept power by relying on outside forces. The fourth generation lost it all.

The fit to Korea is far from exact, but it is provocative. Kim Il-sung was a guerrilla warrior, not unlike the warring tribal leaders with whom Ibn Khaldun dealt. Sweeping in from Siberia he took power (admittedly with Soviet help), ruled for nearly half a century and established the dynasty in the second generation, his son Kim Jong-Il came seamlessly to power on his death in 1994. While he shared little of his father’s war-like experiences, he seems to have been a hard man, as Ibn Khaldun expected. But he gives just a hint of the growth of the enjoyment of the new environment. The luxury he enjoyed was exactly what Ibn Khaldun would have predicted. He took as his mistress a beautiful dancer. From this union came Kim Jong Un, the personification of the third dynasty.

Young Kim Jong Un grew up in what was, in Korean terms, the lap of luxury and as a child was allowed to play the child’s game of soldiers. His soldiers, however, were not toys they were real. There is no certain information, but it is believed that he was made a senior officer in the North Korean army when he was just a child. When he was 12 years old, his father sent him to a private school in Switzerland. Being provided with a personal chef to cook Korean dishes as well as a tutor and a driver/bodyguard, he does not seem to have really been “in” Europe.

He was taken out of the Swiss school when he was 15 and put into a public school in Korea. Those few who knew him have commented that he was intensely patriotic. At his father’s choice, although he was not the elder son, he was singled out as the successor, the man of the third generation.

Despite this unusual background he seems remarkably like an ordinary American schoolboy: he loved sports, particularly basketball, spent a lot of time watching movies and was an indifferent student. This is just about all know about his background. He did not emerge in public until about the time his father was dying.

In 2009, he is thought to have married a beautiful young women who has been variously described as a singer in a popular music group, a cheerleader in a sports event and a doctoral candidate in a Korean university. When his father finally died in 2011, the 32-year-old Kim Jong-un became North Korea’s leader. But on assuming power, he showed himself a more ruthless, determined and absolute ruler than Ibn Khaldun would have predicted.

Almost immediately, he purged his father’s top general among other senior officials, and allegedly he ordered or tolerated the murder of his elder brother whom he must have seen as a potential rival. More generally, he proved himself skillful in organizing the bitter memories of the Korean War among his people to support his regime.

To explain in part the inconsistency of what he did and what was expected of the third generation, I suggest that that he must have constantly had before him lesson of Saddam Husain who lacked nuclear weapons, could not defend himself and was hanged. Watching these events as a young man, Kim Jong Un must have been convinced that he could not afford to give himself up to luxury. As his opponents charge, he may have many vices but sloth is not one of them.

Policy Options

From this sketchy background of the two men whose hands are on the nuclear trigger, I turn to what their choices are. That is, what is the range of policies they must be considering or enacting to accomplish what they say are their objectives.

A map of the Korean Peninsula showing the 38th Parallel where the DMZ was established in 1953. (Wikipedia)

As I understand his objectives, the ruler of North Korea is determined to protect his regime (and of course his own life) and believes he can do so only if he has the capacity to deliver a blow sufficiently painful to any attacker that would deter him.

As Siegfried Hecker, the former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory who has visited North Korea seven times and toured its nuclear facilities, has written (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 7 August 2017), Kim Jong Un “is determined to develop an effective deterrent to keep the United States out.” His answer is a missile-carried nuclear weapon.

Contrariwise, President Trump’s announced objective (which in general echoes that of previous administrations) is to get the North Korean government to stop its development of both nuclear weapons and missiles. He has, theoretically, a range of policies to effect his objective.

Taking back my former role as a policy planner, I would divide the possible courses of American action, the cost of each and its likelihood of being accomplished as follows:

–The first possible policy is what could be called “bluster and threat without armed action.” This is what President Trump is doing today. His outbursts apparently go over well with his loyal supporters but his words have not apparently at least so far affected Kim Jong Un.

However his words have delivered the worst possible result: it has increased North Korean fear of U.S. invasion, has increased Kim Jong Un’s determination to develop a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and has probably stoked the war fever of the Koreans.

Thomas Schelling, with whom I disagreed on other issues, got this one right. As he wrote in The Strategy of Conflict, “madmen, like small children, can often not be controlled by threats” and “if he is not to react like a trapped lion, [an opponent] must be left some tolerable recourse. We have come to realize that a threat of all-out retaliation gives the enemy every incentive, in the event he should choose not to heed the threat, to initiate his transgression with an all-out strike on us it eliminates lesser courses of action and forces him to choose between extremes.”

In making that choice, Kim Jong Un hears President Trump. threatening “fire and fury, the likes of which this world has never seen before.” (Kim responded with the threat to bomb America’s air base on Guam island “to teach the U.S. a severe lesson.”)

Mr. Trump said America was “locked and loaded” and its “patience is over.” And, in addition to remarks on the internet and to audiences all over America, he authorized a simulated war exercise (known as Foal Eagle 2017) by some 300,000 troops armed with live ammunition in and around South Korea which, of course, the government of the North regarded as provocative. But the U.S. did not alert its troops in South Korea nor its aircraft on Guam nor its ships at sea that an outbreak of hostilities was imminent. In short, the threat appeared all talk but no action.

Sen. John McCain, a man with some experience in combat, commented that President Trump’s recent fiery rhetoric on North Korea would only ratchet up the heat for a possible confrontation but nothing else.

As the conservative political commentator Anthony Cordesman wrote on August 5, 2017, “One would hope that the North Korean ‘crisis’ is moving away from bluster and counter bluster … [since] gross overreaction and issuing empty threats discredits the U.S. in terms of allies support and is not a meaningful bargaining tool in dealing with fellow blusterers like Kim Jong Un.”

Conclusion: the likelihood of this line of action accomplishing the stated objective of American policy is near zero, but the costs are twofold: first, the threat of intervention forces the North Korean government to accelerate its acquisition of the very weapons America wishes it to relinquish and serves to keep its armed forces on alert lest the Americans convert threat to attack or stumble into war the second cost is that such a policy undercuts the image Americans wish to project as the upholders of peace and stability even if not always of democracy and independence.

The Limited Strike Option

–The second possible policy would be to attack selected targets, including members of North Korea’s government, with Special Forces and/or drones. Employment of such tactics even in less organized societies, such as Somalia, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, have created chaos but have not produced what their advocates predicted.

Near the ceasefire line between North and South Korea, President Barack Obama uses binoculars to view the DMZ from Camp Bonifas, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

North Korea is a regimented state with a high level of “security” comparable to China. In the 1960s, I once was ordered to find out what the CIA might be able to do with this or a similar option to slow down Chinese nuclear development. The CIA was then sending agents into China from secret bases on Quemoy and Matsu. I asked what they found out. The responsible CIA officer replied that he did not know because none ever returned. That experience would probably be repeated in Korea.

Conclusion: the likelihood of such action accomplishing the stated objective of American policy is near zero, but the cost could be catastrophic: An American attack, even if denied and covert, almost certainly would trigger a North Korean response that might provoke an American counterstroke that could escalate to nuclear war.

–The third possible policy would be to encourage North Korea’s neighbors to attempt to coerce it to disarm and/or to scale back its military policy. Such a policy could aim to get China to control the North Koreans and possibly then encourage or allow Japan and/or South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons and so, themselves, pose a threat to North Korea and indirectly to Chinese interests.

Mr. Trump has several times called on the Chinese to effect the American policy on North Korea and has expressed his disappointment that they have not done so. When their own interests were at stake, the Chinese did impose sanctions and cut back on the import of Korean coal, iron ore and seafood. But China can hardly be expected to lend itself to be a tool of American policy. It too has memories of the Korean War and of attempts to weaken or overthrow it. Today, it also sees the U.S. as its rival in the Pacific. So, it is unlikely that Mr. Trump’s saying that “they do Nothing for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue” — will win Chinese support.

If not the Chinese, what about the Japanese? As I have pointed out in Part 1 of this essay, Japan is tarred by the nearly half century of its brutal regime in Korea. Korean “comfort women,” sexual slaves, are still seeking compensation for the misery inflicted on them and their plight is standard fare in Korean media.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been pushing for Japanese rearmament and is known for his hard line on North Korea, is not a good choice to convince North Korea to cooperate with America. Encouraging militarism in Japan will raise bitter memories all over East Asia.

Moreover, were Japan to rearm itself with nuclear weapons or were South Korea to be given them, as Mr. Cordesman thinks Mr. Trump may feel forced to do, the overall and long-range objectives of the United States would be severely damaged: the “cure would be worse than the malady.”

We don’t need more nuclear weapons powers the political history of South Korea gives little assurance of a “responsible” nuclear policy and there is no reason to believe that a nuclear-armed South Korea or a nuclear-armed Japan would be more successful than a nuclear-armed America.

Worse, if South Korea and Japan were to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, such action might set off a scramble by other nations to acquire them. The world was already deadly dangerous when only two states had nuclear weapons the danger of use by design or accident was multiplied when five more states acquired them and if the number keeps on growing accidental or deliberate use will become almost inevitable.

To spread weapons further is against America’s national interest although some of President Trump’s advisers apparently discount the danger and believe enhanced nuclear power at home and selective spread aboard is to the interest both of the nation and of his administration.

Conclusion: the likelihood of getting others to successfully accomplish American objectives vis-à-vis North Korea is near zero. Faced with nuclear-armed South Korea and Japan, North Korea would logically accelerate rather than cut back its weapons program. China has its own policies and is unlikely to serve as an American proxy. Moreover, the costs of giving South Korea and Japan nuclear weapons is potentially enormous.

The Nuclear Option

–The fourth theoretical policy option would be an American or American-led “coalition” attack on North Korea similar to our two attacks on Iraq and our attack on Afghanistan. America could hit the country with almost any level of destruction it chose from total annihilation to targeted demolition. Knowing that they could not prevent attacks, the North Koreans have adopted a policy that sounds very like America’s Cold War strategy against the Soviet Union, mutual assured destruction or MAD. What would this amount to in the Korean conflict?

North Korean missile launch on March 6, 2017.

The cost of war to North Korea would be almost unimaginable. If nuclear weapons were used, much of North Korea would be rendered unlivable for a generation or more. General Douglas MacArthur had wanted to use the nuclear bomb during the first Korean War in the early 1950s, but even with only conventional weapons used in that conflict, the Koreans suffered casualties, reportedly, of about one in each three persons.

If the U.S. used nuclear weapons this time, millions, perhaps as many as 8 million to 12 million, would be killed and many of the rest of the 26 million inhabitants would be wounded or afflicted with radiation sickness. Once initiated, the attack would have done this damage in minutes or hours. So how would the North Koreans respond?

Their government would order them to retaliate. That is what they are constantly being trained to do. As the Korean War demonstrated, the North Koreans are determined fighters. It would be foolish to expect them to surrender.

The North Korean army is said to be the fourth largest in the world, roughly 1 million men, and is backed up by an active reserve about 5-6 times that many from a potential enrollment of about 10 million. This force is equipped with perhaps 10,000 tanks and self-propelled cannon.

The numbers are impressive but, as in chess, it is position that counts in war. The North is believed to have about 12,000 cannon and roughly 2,300 rockets within range of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Seoul has a population of somewhat more than 10 million people and, in the event of an American attack on North Korea, the North Koreans have said they would obliterate it.

As David Wood wrote on April 18, 2017, “In a matter of minutes, these heavy, low-tech weapons could begin the destruction of the South Korean capital with blizzards of glass shards, collapsed buildings and massive casualties that would decimate this vibrant U.S. ally and send shock waves through the global economy.”

In addition to the South Koreans who would suffer and die, there are about 30,000 US troops in the armistice zone. They, and the hundreds of thousands of dependents, supporters and families of the troops living in Seoul, are hostages to U.S. policy. They also would suffer terrible casualties.

Could the North Koreans carry out such massive counterstrikes? There seems little or no doubt that they could, even if they were subjected to massive first strikes even with nuclear weapons. The North Koreans learned from the first Korean War to use mobile, hard to detect or target, launchers and to go underground to prepared firing points.

Probably many of the North Korean weapons would be destroyed, but there are so many that the surviving pieces could inflict massive casualties. Almost incredible photos, from North Korean television, published in The Sun on April 26, 2017, showed demonstration by hundreds of North Korean artillery pieces and rocket launchers firing into the sea. In the event of war, they would be firing into Seoul.

Then there are the missiles. Japan generally and U.S. bases in Japan and on the island of Guam are within the range of North Korean mid-range rockets. And Alaska and the U.S. West Coast are either already or soon will be within range. Would North Korea use them as a counterstrike? On August 7, as Business Insider reported, “North Korea issued a stark warning to the US: If you attack us, we will retaliate with nuclear weapons.”

Judging from my experience in the Cuban Missile Crisis, I am sure that we would have done so. It is unlikely that Kim Jong Un would do less than John F. Kennedy.

Losing Los Angeles

If in reply to an American attack, the North Koreans struck the United States what would be the result? Loren Thompson speculated in the August 30, 2017 issue of Forbes on “What a Single North Korean Nuclear Warhead Could Do To Los Angeles.” He picked Los Angeles because it is or soon will be in range of North Korean missiles and would be an obvious choice against which to threaten retaliation. With a population of more than 13 million, it is the second largest city in America.

Illustration by Chesley Bonestell of nuclear bombs detonating over New York City, entitled “Hiroshima U.S.A.” Colliers, Aug. 5, 1950.

As I write this, North Korea appears to have demonstrated a somewhat less powerful thermonuclear weapon, about seven times the power of the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima, but Thompson speculates on the result of Los Angeles being hit by a bomb that North Korea presumably will soon have, about 33 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb.

Hit by it, all structures, no matter how securely built with reinforced concrete, within a radius of half a mile from ground zero “would be either totally destroyed or rendered permanently unusable.” The enormous pressure created by the fireball would heavily damage the adjoining circle of 2½ to 3 miles. Virtually all civic facilities (electrical grids, water mains, transport facilities, etc.) would be rendered inoperative and civil services (fire departments, police, hospitals, schools) would be destroyed or severely damaged.

A cloud of radioactive materials would be spread over a far larger area. And perhaps as many as a million people would have been burned to death immediately with many more grievously wounded and unable to get help. And that would be only in the first hours or days. In the following days, the wounded, often suffering from burns, hungry, thirsty, terrified and desperate, would limp out of the core area into the suburbs and surrounding towns, overwhelming their facilities.

Los Angeles would be only one target. North Korea would have nothing to lose by using all of its missiles and bombs. Some might go astray or malfunction, but some might hit San Francisco, Seattle, perhaps Denver and more remotely St. Louis, Dallas and perhaps Chicago. If one reached New York, the damage would be far greater than in Los Angeles.

Conclusion: As Steven Bannon, President Trump’s former “Chief Strategist” is quoted as saying, There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

That may explain why he was fired. And retired Lt. General James Clapper, who as the former Director of National Intelligence was not in danger of losing his job, told CNN, we must “accept the fact that they are a nuclear power.”

An attack on North Korea, while almost certainly devastating to North Korea, would be prohibitively expensive for America. Moreover, while it would temporarily prevent North Korea from posing a nuclear threat, it would create another area of chaos, like those created in Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Afghanistan. Attacking North Korea is not a rational policy choice.

Trying to Talk

–The remaining policy option is negotiation. What would be negotiable and what not? What would be the modalities? What would constitute success and what would be the result of failure? How could a result be made believable and how could it be enforced?

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres (left) addresses the Security Council ministerial-level meeting on the nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs of North Korea. At right is U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, Behind Tillerson is U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

I think we must begin by recognizing that it would be irrational for North Korea to give up missiles and nuclear weapons. Despite the horror with which I view nuclear weapons, they are very attractive to small nations. They level the playing field. A Texas saying from my youth sums it up: Mr. Colt’s invention of the cowboy’s pistol “made all men equal.” The nuclear weapon is pistol writ large. It is the ultimate defense.

For Kim Yong Un to give up his nuclear weapons, while we keep ours and have announced that we intend to overthrow his regime, would be tantamount to his committing suicide. He may be evil, as many believe, but there is no reason to believe that he is a fool.

Could not America offer in the course of negotiations a series of graduated steps in which over time a slow-down and ultimate elimination of missiles and nuclear weapons could be traded for ending of sanctions and increased aid? The answer, I think, is “yes, but.” The “but” is that Kim Yong Un would almost certainly insist on three things: the first is that he would not give up all his weapons and so would insist that North Korea be recognized as a nuclear power the second is that he not be humiliated in the negotiated cut and the third is that some formula be worked out to guarantee the deal. I have dealt with the first two issues above I turn now to the third, how to guarantee the agreement.

The Bush administration invasion of Iraq in 2001 showed that America could create excuses to void any commitment it might make and provide excuses for any action it wished to take. The current push by the Trump administration to renege on the treaty made with Iran and written into American law by the Senate must convince the North Koreans that a treaty with America is just a scrap of paper. He must be convinced that America cannot be trusted.

But, if China and Russia were prepared to guarantee the deal and Japan and South Korea acquiesced to it and also gave up their option to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, that could be the first step in a phased series of steps that might be productive. At the same time, America would have to give up its ineffective sanctions, stop such provocative acts as the massive war game on the frontier and the barrage of threats and undertake a sort of Marshall Plan to lift North Korea out of poverty and hunger.

Conclusion: I am convinced that it will not be possible in the foreseeable future to get Kim Jong Un or any conceivable successor to give up deliverable nuclear weapons. Thus, there can be no “success,” as described in current policy statements by the Trump administration. But, arrangements can be created – by enlisting China and Russia as partners in negotiations and by renouncing threats and such damaging (and ineffective) policies as sanctions – to gradually create an atmosphere in which North Korea can be accepted as a partner in the nuclear “club.”

Failure to move in this direction will leave us, at best, in the limbo of fear and the possibility of stumbling into war. This is obviously a gambit that may fail. What is clear, however, is that none of the alternatives has worked or is likely to work. To embark on this path will require a degree of statesmanship, which we may not have.

How to Do It

If the United States government should decide to try this option, I think the following steps will have to be taken to start negotiations:

First, the U.S. government must accept the fact that North Korea is a nuclear power

Second, it must commit itself formally and irrevocably to a no-first-strike policy. That was the policy envisaged by the Founding Fathers when they denied the chief executive the power to initiate aggressive war

Third, it must remove sanctions on North Korea and begin to offer in a phased pattern aid to mitigate the current (and potentially future) famines caused by droughts and crop failures helping North Korea to move toward prosperity, and reducing fear and

Fourth, stop issuing threats and drop the unproductive and provocative war games on the DMZ.

Will, or even can, any American administration move in this direction? I think the answer will depend in large part on the education of the government leaders and the public among both of whom the level of ignorance of the real costs of war, especially nuclear war, is politically crippling.

As I have suggested, Mr. Trump has shown no comprehension of the costs of war in a nuclear context. Nor has the general public. The pictures of children on Guam being told not to look at the flash of the fireball reminds one of the ridiculous advice to school children in America in the Cold War to take refuge under their desks.

The reality of a modern war must be explained and taught. I do not know if Korean children are so taught, but their parents or grandparents knew it firsthand. This generation of Americans has never seen war up-close in America although some of their fathers saw it in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, memories fade and Americans today do not want to be informed of the danger of a new war. Escapism is one of the great dangers we face.

In the American tradition, the President is the nation’s teacher. We must insist he perform that task or we could pay the supreme price of falling off the edge into the dark void of nuclear war.

William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His books include: Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism Understanding Iraq Understanding Iran Personal History: Living in Interesting Times Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times and Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change.

Southwest Asia and North Africa Crossword

Koran/Quran/Qu'ran MUSLIM HOLY BOOK


Koran/Quran/Qu'ran MUSLIM HOLY BOOK

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Relations before Cuban Revolution Edit

The first diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Cuba developed during World War II. Maxim Litvinov, the Soviet ambassador to the United States, set up the first Soviet embassy in Havana in 1943, and Cuban diplomats under the auspices of President Fulgencio Batista visited Moscow the same year. [1] The Soviets then made a number of contacts with the communist Popular Socialist Party, who had a foothold in Batista's governing Democratic Socialist Coalition. Litvinov's successor, Andrei Gromyko, became the ambassador to both the US and Cuba but never visited the latter during his tenure.

After the war, the governments of Ramón Grau and Carlos Prío Socarrás sought to isolate the Cuban Communist Party, and relations with the Soviet Union were abandoned. Batista's return to power in a 1952 coup saw the closure of the embassy. [2]

After the revolution Edit

The Cuban Revolution propelled Fidel Castro to power on January 1, 1959 but initially attracted little attention in Moscow. Soviet planners, resigned to US dominance over the Western Hemisphere, were unprepared for the possibility of a future ally in the region. According to later testimonies from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, neither the Soviet Communist Party's Central Committee nor KGB intelligence had any idea who Castro was or what he was fighting for. Khrushchev advised them to consult Cuban communists, who reported that Castro was a representative of the "haute bourgeoisie" and working for the Central Intelligence Agency. [3]

In February 1960, Khrushchev sent his deputy, Anastas Mikoyan, to Cuba to discover what motivated Castro, who had returned from failed trip to Washington, DC, where he was refused a meeting with US President Dwight Eisenhower. [4] According to reports, Khrushchev's aides had initially tried to characterize Castro as an untrustworthy American agent. [3]

Mikoyan returned from Cuba with the opinion that Castro's new administration should be helped economically and politically, but there was still talk of military assistance.

Washington's increasing economic embargo led Cuba to seek new markets in a hurry to avert economic disaster. Castro asked for help from the Soviets, and in response, Khrushchev approved the temporary purchase of Cuban sugar in exchange for Soviet fuel. The deal was to play a part in sustaining the Cuban economy for many years to come. It also would play a role in the Soviet economy, with Cuban sugar becoming widely available even during frequent shortages of other food products. [5] After the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961, Castro announced publicly that Cuba was to become a socialist republic. Khrushchev sent congratulations to Castro for repelling the invasion but privately believed that the Americans would soon bring the weight of their regular army to bear. The defense of Cuba became a matter of prestige for the Soviet Union, and Khrushchev believed that the Americans would block all access to the island by sea or by air.

Cuban Missile Crisis Edit

Khrushchev agreed on a deployment plan in May 1962, primarily in response to Castro's fears over yet another American invasion, and by late July, over 60 Soviet ships had been en route to Cuba, some of them which were carrying military material. Khrushchev and Castro planned to secretly establish a Soviet Armed Forces presence on the island before announcing a defense pact once nuclear-armed ballistic missiles were installed and targeted at the United States. [5] A U-2 flight on the morning of October 14 photographed a series of surface-to-air missile sites being constructed. In a televised address on October 22, US President John F. Kennedy announced the discovery of the installations and proclaimed that any nuclear missile attack from Cuba would be regarded as an attack by the Soviet Union and would be responded to accordingly.

The Cuban Missile Crisis became the peak of Soviet-Cuban diplomatic friendship and military cooperation. The Castro brothers and Che Guevara became popular figures among the Soviet public, who believed they were reminiscent of the leaders of the Russian Revolution. However, Castro unnerved the Soviet Politburo with his belligerent attitude towards the crisis, urging the Soviet Union to launch a preemptive nuclear strike to annihilate the United States. [5]

Khrushchev sent letters to Kennedy on October 23 and 24 that claimed the deterrent nature of the missiles in Cuba and the peaceful intentions of the Soviet Union. On October 26, the Soviets offered to withdraw the missiles in return for US guarantees to avoid carrying out or supporting an of invasion of Cuba and to remove all of the missiles in southern Italy and in Turkey. The deal was accepted, and the crisis abated.

The Cuban Missile Crisis had a significant impact on the countries involved. It led to a thaw in American-Soviet relations but strained Cuban-Soviet relations. Castro was not consulted throughout the Kennedy-Khrushchev negotiations and was angered by the unilateral Soviet withdrawal of the missiles and bombers. Also, the People's Republic of China publicly criticized the outcome. [6]

Lourdes SIGINT Station Edit

In 1962, the Soviets created a SIGINT facility in Lourdes, just south of Havana. The SIGINT facility at Lourdes was among the most significant intelligence collection capabilities targeting the United States. It allowed the Soviets to monitor all US military and civilian geosynchronous communications satellites. [ citation needed ]

The station was abandoned in 2002.

Castro's trip to Moscow Edit

After the crisis, in June 1963 Castro made a historic visit to the Soviet Union, returning to Cuba to recall the construction projects he had seen, specifically the Siberian hydro power stations. Castro also spoke about the development of Soviet agriculture and repeatedly emphasized the necessity for using Soviet experience in solving internal tasks of socialist construction in Cuba. Castro asserted that the Soviet people "expressed by their deeds their love for and solidarity with Cuba."

On the trip, Castro and Khrushchev negotiated new sugar export deals and agricultural methods to solve the main problem in increasing the output of sugar. [7]

Despite Soviet attempts to appease Castro, Cuban-Soviet relations were still marred by a number of difficulties. Castro increased contacts with China, exploited the growing Sino-Soviet split and proclaimed his intention to remain neutral and to maintain fraternal relations with all socialist states. [8] The Sino-Soviet split also impacted on Castro's relationship with Che Guevara, who took a more Maoist view after ideological conflict between the Soviet Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party. In 1966, Guevara left for Bolivia in an ill-fated attempt to stir up revolution against Alfredo Ovando Candía's U.S.-sponsored military junta

Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia Edit

On 23 August 1968, Castro made a public gesture to the Soviet Union that reaffirmed his support. Two days after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia to repress the Prague Spring, Castro took to the airwaves and publicly denounced the Czechoslovak "rebellion." Castro warned the Cuban people about the Czechoslovak "counterrevolutionaries," who "were moving Czechoslovakia towards capitalism and into the arms of imperialists." He called the leaders of the rebellion "the agents of West Germany and fascist reactionary rabble." [9] In return for his public backing of the invasion while many Soviet allies deemed the invasion to be an infringement of Czechoslovak sovereignty, the Soviets bailed out the Cuban economy with extra loans and an immediate increase in oil exports. [ citation needed ]

Brezhnev's visit to Havana Edit

Between 28 January and 3 February 1974, Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev undertook a state visit to Cuba and was the first Soviet leader to visit Cuba or any other country in Latin America. Foreign Affairs Minister Andrey Gromyko, Chairman of the State Committee of the Council of Ministers on Foreign Relations Ivan Arkhipov, and General Director of TASS Leonid Zamyatin were part of the Soviet delegation. Brezhnev arrived at José Martí International Airport and was met with a reception with full military honors from the Ceremonial Unit of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces. On 29 January, the Soviet delegation visited Plaza de la Revolución and laid a wreath at the José Martí Memorial before it held talks with Castro in the Palace of the Revolution. More than a million Cubans took part in the Cuban-Soviet friendship rally, which was held on Revolution Square, in Havana. [10] The next day, he held more talks with Castro, his brother Raul and President Osvaldo Dorticos, and it was decided that the design and construction of high-voltage power lines in the east and the west of Cuba would be carried out. On 31 January, in the suburbs of Havana, both took part in the opening of the Lenin Secondary Special Boarding School. [11] [12] At the end of the visit, he was awarded the Order of José Martí. [13]

Gorbachev era Edit

With Cuba's proximity to the United States, Castro and his regime became an important Cold War ally for the Soviets. The relationship was for the most part economic, with the Soviet Union providing military, economic, and political assistance to Cuba. In 1972, Cuba gained membership into the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), which enhanced strong co-operation in the realm of national economic planning and increasingly gave Moscow economic control over Cuba. [14] From 1976 to 1980, the Soviets invested US$1.7 billion on the construction and remodeling of Cuban factories and industry. Between 1981 and 1984 Cuba also received approximately US$750 million a year in Soviet military assistance. [15]

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in March 1985, the Soviets continued to consider Cuba as an important Cold War propaganda tool. Economic investment and trade in Cuba were at their highest. In 1985, trade with the Soviets accounted for over 70© of Cuba's entire trade. [16] Both nations continued to collaborate on projects in the sciences, technology, sports, and education. [14] However, throughout the Gorbachev era diplomatic relations cooled until the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 terminated Soviet-Cuban relations.

Heightened tensions best characterized diplomatic relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union throughout the Gorbachev era. The introduction of his Soviet reforms of perestroika and glasnost and his "new thinking" on the foreign policy set off an economic crisis in the Soviet Union, opened up the Soviets and their allies to increasing internal criticism from dissidents, and sparked an ideological conflict with the Cuban regime.

1985–1989 Edit

The Soviet Union faced a varying array of problems when Gorbachev took power after the death of General Secretary Konstantin Chernenko in 1985. However, Gorbachev's attempts at reforms not only provoked the strengthening of a vocal opposition frustrated over the pace of reforms but also placed the Soviets at odds with Cuba. The transition during perestroika towards market reforms weakened the Soviet ruble and resulted in a reduction of basic subsidies and widespread shortages of basic goods, a loss of jobs, and decreased productivity. [17] The economic difficulties spread to other areas of Eastern Europe and other Soviet satellites, such as Cuba. In essence, perestroika progressively undermined the Soviet Union's ability to live up to its economic commitments to Cuba. [18]

In 1986, Castro embarked on his own set of reforms, which was called the "rectification of errors" campaign. Castro intended for the reforms to forestall or to eradicate any reformist ideas spreading in Cuba prompted by radical political and economic reforms in the Soviet Union or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. [18] The Cuban policies perestroika were diametrically opposed and highlighted the unravelling of the Soviet-Cuban relationship.

The effects of glasnost on political criticism and discussion in the Soviet Union further strained the Cuban-Soviet alliance. After Castro bashed glasnost during a joint Soviet-Cuban conference in Havana in 1988, the Soviet elite became more critical of Soviet foreign policy towards Cuba, and critical articles in Soviet newspapers soon emerged. [19] Although Havana could not afford to upset Moscow, its main ally, Castro in February 1989 led a small expulsion of Soviet diplomats at the Soviet embassy and banned the sale of Soviet publications and news outlets, He stated, "We could not hesitate to prevent the circulation of Soviet publications in Cuba." [20]

In his visit to rekindle ties with Cuba in April 1989, Gorbachev attempted to convince Castro to take a more positive attitude towards the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was only the second Soviet leader to visit Latin America, and rather than resolve the increasing tensions between the two nations, the visit was mostly a symbolic gesture since Castro had declared the Soviet-Cuban alliance as void 24 hours before the visit. Despite Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze declaring the meeting to be a "milestone in Soviet-Cuban relations," relations rapidly declined after Gorbachev's return to Moscow. [21]

1989–1991 Edit

By 1990, Moscow had found it increasingly difficult to meet its economic responsibilities to Havana. In 1985, it had paid over eleven times the world price for Cuban sugar, but in 1989, it paid only three times the world price. [22] As the economy continued to decline, members of the Soviet elite grew more critical of the unequal terms of trade. For many, "it seemed contrary to the nature of perestroika to continue to prop up an inefficient Cuban economy while struggling to reform the Soviet economy." [22] That forced the Cuban government to search elsewhere for foreign investment and trade. In what was called a "zero-option approach," the Cuban government in 1990 and 1991 established tariff-free trading agreements to boost imports and exports, gave foreign entities more autonomy and generous tax incentives, and began to diversify the economy by focusing more on the pharmaceutical industry and tourism. [23]

More fundamental change in Soviet-Cuba economic relations came with a new one-year trade agreement (as opposed to the previous five-year trade agreements), which was signed in late 1990. [22] The agreement set sugar at world market prices with the intent to reduce Cuban dependence on the Soviet Union. In June 1991, the Soviets disbanded the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), which had been a huge basis for the alliance. That further strained the Cuban economic situation. [22]

In the international sphere, Gorbachev's "new thinking" attempted to remove Marxist ideology from East-West relations. His new foreign policy took on a new orientation that stressed international independence, non-offensive defence, multilateral co-operation, and the use of the political process to solve security issues. [24] At first, Castro took a relatively positive outlook on "new thinking." He commented that "this was the first time since the appearance of these awesome [[weapons of mass destruction. that such a categorical, resolute and concrete proposal had been made." [25] However, ideological divergences over disarmament, international conflicts in Nicaragua and Angola, and the debt crisis in the developing world quickly created irreconcilable differences between Castro and Gorbachev.

Demonstrative of the cooling of Cold War tensions and "new thinking" was the announcement by Gorbachev on September 11, 1991 that all Soviet troops would be removed from Cuba. [26] That move symbolized Gorbachev's efforts to eliminate Marxism from Soviet foreign policy, which Castro believed undermined Cuba's struggle against US imperialism.

After a Soviet coup attempt in August 1991, Cuban leaders felt that they had less to lose and began openly criticism of Soviet reforms. An editorial in Granma several days after the coup wrote that "in the Soviet Union, politicians favour the process of privatization and the acceleration to the market economy. These positions have resulted in the development of these events." [27]

From 1985 to 1991, Soviet-Cuban relations continued, as Moscow wanted the relationship with Cuba to be reformed, not terminated, and Havana relied on continued Soviet investment and trade. Perestroika and Gorbachev's other reforms quickly eroded the economic and political alliance between the Cubans and the Soviets, as it became increasingly difficult for the Soviets to maintain their trade commitments to Cuba. After 1989, Castro publicly criticized Soviet reformism but hoped Soviet communism to survive perestroika.

End of Soviet Union Edit

The end of the Soviet Union in December 1991 had an immediate and devastating effect on Cuba. Valuable aid and trading privileges ended for Cuba, with the Soviet Union no longer existing. Cuba soon entered a fiscal crisis. [28]

Since the 1990s, Cuba has maintained and started relationships with other Latin American neighbors and non-aligned countries, but since it is the only Marxist nation in the Western Hemisphere, Cuba can no longer maintain its political status. [29] After the shift to world market prices under the 1991 trade agreement and the dissolution of CMEA, which once accounted for almost 85% of Cuban trade, trade with the Soviet Union declined by more than 90%. The Soviet Union alone imported 80% of Cuban sugar and 40% of Cuban citrus. Oil imports dropped from 13 million tons in 1989 to about 3 million tons in 1993 with Russia. [30]

The Revolutions of 1989 ended communism in Europe, and the end of the Soviet Union led to great isolation and economic hardship in Cuba.

Watch the video: The Men Who Killed Kennedy Full Series (January 2022).