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Why the risk of nuclear war is higher than it should be - a lesson from the Cuban Missile Crisis (1 Viewer)

Craig234

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Let's learn a lesson from the cold war. There were competing issues: the American public were largely 'cold warriors', demanding only 'victory'. Not so good at 'understand the other side's point of view' and 'make concessions to avoid nuclear war'.

Our system is democracy, which has a lot of good, but not all good; it can put in power when the people are wrong, also, and gives us politicians who tend to do what the public wants, right or wrong (if they aren't corrupt) because if they don't, they tend to lose elections and it doesn't matter what policy they're for.

The story of JFK's presidency largely follows this contradictory set of priorities. To get elected, what worked was to look like MORE of a cold warrior than Republicans, more than Nixon.

So JFK tried to look very much like the stronger cold warrior, talking a lot about how Republicans had allowed a 'missile gap' where Russians were ahead of us, about how Republicans had let Castro take Cuba and not done enough about it.

This was all 'good politics'. No doubt it infuriated Republicans; there was no 'missile gap', the Russians had four warheads, but that was classified; Nixon was secretly leading a scheme for the US to have Cuban exiles invade Cuba he was desperately trying to get launched before the election, but couldn't say so and felt forced to defend doing less than Kennedy suggested.

The public had 'defeated evil' in WWII, defeated Hitler and Japan, and was fresh off the red scare with McCarthy wanting to defeat Russia. Some leaders felt we should have a nuclear war as soon as possible, starting one, while Russia still had few missiles and we could 'win'. An Air Force General, Thomas Power, infamously said, "At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win."

So, JFK consistently used a theme of strength and winning, language of cold warriors, in his speeches - even as he artfully used their language to advocate for peace, sneaking it in. "Let us never negotiate out of fear" - YA! SCREW THEM COMMIES! - "but let us never fear to negotiate." Ya, um, well he said don't fear so I guess that's ok.

The story of Kennedy's presidency is largely the story of the conflict of how to manage the politics of a public that demanded a cold warrior and victory, against the real danger of nuclear war and challenges to keep the peace.

Kennedy did support the idea that military strength helped peace, that when 'the enemy' saw opportunity from military weakness, it increased the chances for war. So better to be able to deter them with a strong force.

But privately, very privately, he described himself to his closest aide, Kenny O'Donnell, as "almost a peace at any price president". He constantly dealt with these competing agendas - the politics of the cold warrior and the policies of peace and ending it.

The Cuban Missile Crisis put this conflict into clear view - in hindsight, not at the time.

What was it? The US had under Eisenhower placed nuclear missiles on Russia's border in Turkey. Khrushchev wasn't a big fan; we didn't ask his opinion. So when Cuba came to him looking for an ally, and would welcome Russian nuclear missiles that would deter another US invasion after the Bay of Pigs, it was hardly unreasonable for Khrushchev to see it as entirely favor for Russia to do what the US had done to him.

In fact, had Khrushchev done it openly, making that case, as his advisors suggested he do, it's not unreasonable to think much of the world would have agreed that was fair. All our current rhetoric about 'nations having the right to choose their alliances' regarding Ukraine and NATO would have applied to Cuba's rights. We couldn't well object to their doing what we'd already done.

But US politics would hear none of that. Double standards weren't only fine, they were demanded. So Kennedy had to use the negative reaction to Russia's getting 'caught' in a lie for all it was worth.
 
The point is, for US politics, JFK stood firm against Russia, gave them nothing, and successfully demanded they remove the missiles. Big victory for the US.

But privately Kennedy knew that was quite unrealistic, not 'fair', and he knew it risked nuclear war much more than that - and he didn't know how much, as the US didn't learn the Soviets had placed 100 tactical nukes until decades later.

So, Kennedy had changed course from the early nearly unanimous support for attacking Cuba - by land and/or air - and bought a few days chance to delay that with a blockade. But to actually make the deal, he used an unorthodox approach of having his brother secretly communicate with the Russian ambassador, offering a deal to withdraw missiles from Turkey and pledge not to invade Cuba. That worked.

That was the politics - WE WON - balanced by the practical - a more fair 'deal' he had to hide from the public. The world came close to nuclear war, and escaped it no thanks to the politics of the American people, who would have led the world to that war.

And that's an important lesson about the danger of nuclear war. When the politics of two nuclear powers don't allow them to 'make deals' that avoid nuclear war - it risks nuclear war. In fact, Kennedy and Khrushchev became close in the crisis, each confiding in the other how right-wing forces in their own government and military threatened events going out of control of their hands, becoming conspirators against their own governments.

Khrushchev famously told Kennedy he viewed the situation like a knot, being pulled tighter and tighter until it couldn't be untied. They became two men of peace - with Khrushchev being removed from office for doing so.

There are real parallels for our risk for nuclear war now, with a man less reasonable than Khrushchev, with 6,000 nuclear weapons and under threat, his country's economy being destroyed - and US and global politics that are not very interested in any concessions for Putin as the initiator of an unjustified, brutal war for a people the world hugely sympathizes with as they fight a far superior force and ask for help.

Like in the Cuban missile crisis, the politics of the public, and the policies needed to avoid nuclear war, are at odds. And our democratic system once again has politicians loathe to tell the voters who demand support for Ukraine 'no' to anything.

And so we find ourselves in a crisis, with reportedly 2/3 of the public supporting a no-fly zone that is believed would likely cause nuclear escalation.

Because the public - just as it couldn't handle the policies needed to avoid war in the Cuban missile crisis - can't seem to handle the policies needed to prevent nuclear war now.

It is intolerable night after night, watching good, innocent people slaughtered while the world is united in support but not protecting them more than with items.

If there were an election soon, an opponent of Biden could very plausibly win by promising the people the no-fly zone they want - either pressuring Biden to do it, or winning the election defeating Biden and then having to do it. And then we'd have great risk of nuclear war.

This is in part an issue of leadership - but that's not really fair to politicians. JFK was able to do what was right, but not to persuade the American people of it so he had to deceive them and keep it secret. That option doesn't exist with a no-fly zone. Biden is 'standing strong' saying no to it - but he hasn't been able to persuade the public it's the right thing, either. We're lucky there's not an election soon.

This conflict between demanding politics - hugely understandably as we have a monster slaughtering an innocent, freedom-loving country night after night - and the practical issues in avoiding nuclear war, greatly increase the risk of said war. And I've only discussed why OUR side's situation increases the risk - without even getting into what increases it on Russia's side.

We need to avoid nuclear war, and it's not easy.
 
So many words, yet you avoided the obvious: Putin’s stated intent to reconstruct the USSR (Russian empire) by military force - starting with taking (back) Ukraine. The Biden position is that no US (or NATO) military force will be used to stop that unless (until?) the first NATO nation is attacked.
 
The risk of nuclear war is higher than it should be because Vlad the Invader has a screw loose. He's got cold, dead eyes, like a doll's eyes.
 
Anyone know a forum where people have an interest in actual topics?
 
Actually what you are searching for is a forum of like minded Bernie Supporters that will agree with everything you say and not challenge your view in the slightest. Avoiding you is not a reflection on anyones interest in an actual topic,
 
I increasingly want to say "I do not believe he will fire off. Declare war."

But I also know I have no right to gamble with life on Earth. I don't know.
 
The point is, for US politics, JFK stood firm against Russia, gave them nothing, and successfully demanded they remove the missiles. Big victory for the US.

But privately Kennedy knew that was quite unrealistic, not 'fair', and he knew it risked nuclear war much more than that - and he didn't know how much, as the US didn't learn the Soviets had placed 100 tactical nukes until decades later.

So, Kennedy had changed course from the early nearly unanimous support for attacking Cuba - by land and/or air - and bought a few days chance to delay that with a blockade. But to actually make the deal, he used an unorthodox approach of having his brother secretly communicate with the Russian ambassador, offering a deal to withdraw missiles from Turkey and pledge not to invade Cuba. That worked.

That was the politics - WE WON - balanced by the practical - a more fair 'deal' he had to hide from the public. The world came close to nuclear war, and escaped it no thanks to the politics of the American people, who would have led the world to that war.

And that's an important lesson about the danger of nuclear war. When the politics of two nuclear powers don't allow them to 'make deals' that avoid nuclear war - it risks nuclear war. In fact, Kennedy and Khrushchev became close in the crisis, each confiding in the other how right-wing forces in their own government and military threatened events going out of control of their hands, becoming conspirators against their own governments.

Khrushchev famously told Kennedy he viewed the situation like a knot, being pulled tighter and tighter until it couldn't be untied. They became two men of peace - with Khrushchev being removed from office for doing so.

There are real parallels for our risk for nuclear war now, with a man less reasonable than Khrushchev, with 6,000 nuclear weapons and under threat, his country's economy being destroyed - and US and global politics that are not very interested in any concessions for Putin as the initiator of an unjustified, brutal war for a people the world hugely sympathizes with as they fight a far superior force and ask for help.

Like in the Cuban missile crisis, the politics of the public, and the policies needed to avoid nuclear war, are at odds. And our democratic system once again has politicians loathe to tell the voters who demand support for Ukraine 'no' to anything.

And so we find ourselves in a crisis, with reportedly 2/3 of the public supporting a no-fly zone that is believed would likely cause nuclear escalation.

Because the public - just as it couldn't handle the policies needed to avoid war in the Cuban missile crisis - can't seem to handle the policies needed to prevent nuclear war now.

It is intolerable night after night, watching good, innocent people slaughtered while the world is united in support but not protecting them more than with items.

If there were an election soon, an opponent of Biden could very plausibly win by promising the people the no-fly zone they want - either pressuring Biden to do it, or winning the election defeating Biden and then having to do it. And then we'd have great risk of nuclear war.

This is in part an issue of leadership - but that's not really fair to politicians. JFK was able to do what was right, but not to persuade the American people of it so he had to deceive them and keep it secret. That option doesn't exist with a no-fly zone. Biden is 'standing strong' saying no to it - but he hasn't been able to persuade the public it's the right thing, either. We're lucky there's not an election soon.

This conflict between demanding politics - hugely understandably as we have a monster slaughtering an innocent, freedom-loving country night after night - and the practical issues in avoiding nuclear war, greatly increase the risk of said war. And I've only discussed why OUR side's situation increases the risk - without even getting into what increases it on Russia's side.

We need to avoid nuclear war, and it's not easy.
Do you have cite for the statistic on Americans approval of a no fly zone?

I have seen no polls where 2/3 support a no fly zone, the polls i have watched are more like 1/3 approval for a no fly zone.
 
The point is, for US politics, JFK stood firm against Russia, gave them nothing, and successfully demanded they remove the missiles. Big victory for the US.

But privately Kennedy knew that was quite unrealistic, not 'fair', and he knew it risked nuclear war much more than that - and he didn't know how much, as the US didn't learn the Soviets had placed 100 tactical nukes until decades later.

So, Kennedy had changed course from the early nearly unanimous support for attacking Cuba - by land and/or air - and bought a few days chance to delay that with a blockade. But to actually make the deal, he used an unorthodox approach of having his brother secretly communicate with the Russian ambassador, offering a deal to withdraw missiles from Turkey and pledge not to invade Cuba. That worked.

That was the politics - WE WON - balanced by the practical - a more fair 'deal' he had to hide from the public. The world came close to nuclear war, and escaped it no thanks to the politics of the American people, who would have led the world to that war.

And that's an important lesson about the danger of nuclear war. When the politics of two nuclear powers don't allow them to 'make deals' that avoid nuclear war - it risks nuclear war. In fact, Kennedy and Khrushchev became close in the crisis, each confiding in the other how right-wing forces in their own government and military threatened events going out of control of their hands, becoming conspirators against their own governments.

Khrushchev famously told Kennedy he viewed the situation like a knot, being pulled tighter and tighter until it couldn't be untied. They became two men of peace - with Khrushchev being removed from office for doing so.

There are real parallels for our risk for nuclear war now, with a man less reasonable than Khrushchev, with 6,000 nuclear weapons and under threat, his country's economy being destroyed - and US and global politics that are not very interested in any concessions for Putin as the initiator of an unjustified, brutal war for a people the world hugely sympathizes with as they fight a far superior force and ask for help.

Like in the Cuban missile crisis, the politics of the public, and the policies needed to avoid nuclear war, are at odds. And our democratic system once again has politicians loathe to tell the voters who demand support for Ukraine 'no' to anything.

And so we find ourselves in a crisis, with reportedly 2/3 of the public supporting a no-fly zone that is believed would likely cause nuclear escalation.

Because the public - just as it couldn't handle the policies needed to avoid war in the Cuban missile crisis - can't seem to handle the policies needed to prevent nuclear war now.

It is intolerable night after night, watching good, innocent people slaughtered while the world is united in support but not protecting them more than with items.

If there were an election soon, an opponent of Biden could very plausibly win by promising the people the no-fly zone they want - either pressuring Biden to do it, or winning the election defeating Biden and then having to do it. And then we'd have great risk of nuclear war.

This is in part an issue of leadership - but that's not really fair to politicians. JFK was able to do what was right, but not to persuade the American people of it so he had to deceive them and keep it secret. That option doesn't exist with a no-fly zone. Biden is 'standing strong' saying no to it - but he hasn't been able to persuade the public it's the right thing, either. We're lucky there's not an election soon.

This conflict between demanding politics - hugely understandably as we have a monster slaughtering an innocent, freedom-loving country night after night - and the practical issues in avoiding nuclear war, greatly increase the risk of said war. And I've only discussed why OUR side's situation increases the risk - without even getting into what increases it on Russia's side.

We need to avoid nuclear war, and it's not easy.
I generally agree with the gist here. But what do you suggest we do about it?
 
Do you have cite for the statistic on Americans approval of a no fly zone?

I have seen no polls where 2/3 support a no fly zone, the polls i have watched are more like 1/3 approval for a no fly zone.
I didn't remember where I saw it, but I googled and the first result is Reuters reporting 74% support.

 
Let's learn a lesson from the cold war. There were competing issues: the American public were largely 'cold warriors', demanding only 'victory'. Not so good at 'understand the other side's point of view' and 'make concessions to avoid nuclear war'.

The Cuban Missile Crisis put this conflict into clear view - in hindsight, not at the time.

What was it? The US had under Eisenhower placed nuclear missiles on Russia's border in Turkey. Khrushchev wasn't a big fan; we didn't ask his opinion. So when Cuba came to him looking for an ally, and would welcome Russian nuclear missiles that would deter another US invasion after the Bay of Pigs, it was hardly unreasonable for Khrushchev to see it as entirely favor for Russia to do what the US had done to him.

In fact, had Khrushchev done it openly, making that case, as his advisors suggested he do, it's not unreasonable to think much of the world would have agreed that was fair. All our current rhetoric about 'nations having the right to choose their alliances' regarding Ukraine and NATO would have applied to Cuba's rights. We couldn't well object to their doing what we'd already done.

But US politics would hear none of that. Double standards weren't only fine, they were demanded. So Kennedy had to use the negative reaction to Russia's getting 'caught' in a lie for all it was worth.
Not many admit that the Cuban Missile Crisis was a result of our own placement of nukes in Turkey (also in the UK). The is a parallel here and there, all we had to do is agree to never admit Ukraine into NATO and I think all of this could've been avoided. I think it can still end the same way, agree to not allow Ukraine into NATO in exchange for Russia pulling out.
 
Anyone know a forum where people have an interest in actual topics?

That was funny.

Political topics: not likely on the internet.
 
I didn't remember where I saw it, but I googled and the first result is Reuters reporting 74% support.

I am not doubting your source. I have been watching the polls on this specific question and seen nothing even close to 2/3.
 
Do you have cite for the statistic on Americans approval of a no fly zone?

I have seen no polls where 2/3 support a no fly zone, the polls i have watched are more like 1/3 approval for a no fly zone.
"Should America send forces to Ukraine, along with our allies, to shoot down Russian jets violating its airspace?"
"Should NATO assist Ukraine by implementing a no-fly zone over its airspace?"

Problem with polls is that you'd probably get very different rates of agreement for those two questions.
 
"Should America send forces to Ukraine, along with our allies, to shoot down Russian jets violating its airspace?"
"Should NATO assist Ukraine by implementing a no-fly zone over its airspace?"

Problem with polls is that you'd probably get very different rates of agreement for those two questions.
Exactly!!

The pudding is in the Grammer 😉
 
Not many admit that the Cuban Missile Crisis was a result of our own placement of nukes in Turkey (also in the UK). The is a parallel here and there, all we had to do is agree to never admit Ukraine into NATO and I think all of this could've been avoided. I think it can still end the same way, agree to not allow Ukraine into NATO in exchange for Russia pulling out.

Some people on the 'Right' here have been making more sense regarding Russia attacking Ukraine than many others.
 
Some people on the 'Right' here have been making more sense regarding Russia attacking Ukraine than many others.
Its not up to Russia, the US, or NATO to self determine for the Ukraine.

A sovereign nation has made its intentions clear, they wish to to join NATO.

Putin fan boys don't seem to understand self determination.
 
I agree with this write up, I see that it would do little good. The Russians are not using there AF in the numbers as expected.

It looks like Putin expected no resistance, deploying a small portion of his army. A gross miscalculation, a very rare error for Putin.
That's what people are suggesting seems like a likely explanation, that he believed his own propaganda on Ukraine support for Russia. Another I'd suggest possible is that it just fits common invasion tactics of trying to go in 'soft' at first to see if you can get the population to make it easy or at least divide the defenders.

I've seen commentators say it's a Russian tactic to send in the worst equipment and forces early and take heavy losses - sounds strange, but they say it, and it fits the facts. But clearly we're past that as Putin uses indiscriminate, devastating and illegal weaponry (cluster bombs at least).
 
Putin fan boys don't seem to understand self determination.
Chinese nationalists are going crazy for Putin in their love for 'strong men' - it's the same mentality where they love the slaughter at Tiananmen Square because it made the leader look strong. Some of these same maniacs are asking Putin to use nuclear weapons.
 
Chinese nationalists are going crazy for Putin in their love for 'strong men' - it's the same mentality where they love the slaughter at Tiananmen Square because it made the leader look strong. Some of these same maniacs are asking Putin to use nuclear weapons.

By 'Putin fanboys' he means people like me that don't buy the dominant narrative.
 
That's what people are suggesting seems like a likely explanation, that he believed his own propaganda on Ukraine support for Russia. Another I'd suggest possible is that it just fits common invasion tactics of trying to go in 'soft' at first to see if you can get the population to make it easy or at least divide the defenders.

I've seen commentators say it's a Russian tactic to send in the worst equipment and forces early and take heavy losses - sounds strange, but they say it, and it fits the facts. But clearly we're past that as Putin uses indiscriminate, devastating and illegal weaponry (cluster bombs at least).
He is now using the same tactics he employed in Syria. Surround the Urban center, bomb it in to the stone age. I am all for sanctions, diplomacy, whatever trick we can employ to at least get a cease fire. I wonder if there is a tipping point, short of expanding the war beyond Ukraine border, where NATO would get actively involved.

Putin is doing lots of posturing and threats. Perhaps it's time NATO poke the Russian Bear, just a little. Let's see what how he reacts.
 

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