Tuesday, October 16, 2012

U.S. Was Prepared To Nuke Cuba

Image of JFK and Nikita Khrushchev

Pentagon Estimated 18,500 U.S. Casualties in Cuba Invasion 1962, But If Nukes Launched, "Heavy Losses" Expected

Gen. Taylor Proposed Major Retaliation if Cubans "Foolhardy" Enough to Try to Repel U.S. Invasion with Nuclear Weapons

But Taylor Warned There Would Be "No Experience Factor Upon Which to Base an Estimate of Casualties"

Pentagon Accountants Estimated Missile Crisis Cost $165 Million Dollars, Over $1.4 Billion in Current Dollars

... The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff said his forces were prepared to use nuclear weapons in an American invasion of the island if the Cubans used nuclear arms to resist.

The top secret memo from the chairman, General Maxwell D. Taylor, dated Nov. 2, 1962, underscored the continuing danger of a nuclear conflict between the superpowers even after the Soviet Union removed nuclear missiles from the island on Nov. 1.

“We must accept the possibility that the enemy may use nuclear weapons to repel invasion,” General Taylor wrote. “However, if the Cuban leaders took this foolhardy step, we could respond at once in overwhelming nuclear force against military targets.”
The National Security Archive, a research organization at George Washington University, found the three-page memo in government archives and planned to post it on its Web site on Monday night.
General Taylor also told the president that military planners were expecting up to 18,500 American troops killed and wounded in the first 10 days after an invasion. But he cautioned that the estimate applied only to a non-nuclear conflict.
“If atomic weapons were used, there is no experience factor upon which to base an estimate of casualties,” General Taylor wrote. “Certainly, we might expect to lose very heavily at the outset if caught by surprise, but our retaliation would be rapid and devastating and thus would bring to a sudden close the period of heavy losses.”
“The American generals were eager for an invasion, and even the possible presence of tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba didn’t give them a sense of caution,” Mr. Blanton said. Kennedy, by contrast, was distrustful of the military brass and very cautious, he said.
Michael Dobbs, an historian and author of “One Minute to Midnight,” a 2009 account of the crisis, said some American military leaders still favored invading Cuba at the time the memo was written, but Kennedy probably had ruled out that possibility. “By November 2, things would have had to go very, very wrong for the U.S. to launch an invasion,” he said.
Though the crisis has been studied intensively and is the subject of many books, new evidence and new interpretations continue to emerge. The conventional notion of a tough President Kennedy whose unyielding stance caused the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev to “blink” has given way to a more nuanced portrait of a Kennedy who prevented war through careful negotiation and secret concessions, including his agreement to remove American nuclear missiles from Turkey.

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