Little Bits of History

Who Blinked?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 25, 2010

Jupiter IRBM (picture from US Army)

Jupiter IRBM (picture from US Army)

October 25, 1962: An emergency session of the UN Security Council meets and US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson asks USSR Ambassador Valerian Zorin to explain the Russian missiles occupying Cuban launch sites. Zorin refused an answer and Stevenson produced surveillance photos showing missile installations.

Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba on January 1, 1959 and aligned his country with the Soviet Union openly and officially on December 19, 1960. Within weeks the US terminated diplomatic relations with Cuba. On April 17, 1961, the US backed a group of Cuban exiles in a covert operation to trigger an anti-Castro rebellion. The forces landed at the Bay of Pigs and was an unmitigated and embarrassing failure.

On July 27, 1962, Castro announced measures he had taken to assure there were no direct assaults by US forces on Cuba. He stated that the USSR would militarily defend Cuba. By early fall, evidence of missiles in Cuba was noted. By mid-October U-2 recon planes had pictures of the installations. President Kennedy of the US and Premier Khrushchev of the USSR, negotiated the removal of the missiles without Castro’s input.

In return for removing US ICBM missiles from Turkey and US assurance of not invading Cuba, the USSR  would remove their missiles from Cuba. The US managed to unobtrusively remove their missiles while Khrushchev and the USSR were seen as losing face in obeying an “order” from their enemy. Within two years Khrushchev was out of power. Cuba was left without the protection that the Communist regime had promised.

“I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over.” – Adlai Stevenson demanding an answer regarding Cuban missile bases from Valerian Zorin

“We were eyeball to eyeball, and the other fellow just blinked.” – Dean Rusk

“Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”  – John F. Kennedy

“Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” – John F. Kennedy

Also on this day, in 1760 George III became King of England.

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