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Nixon Administration during Cuban Missile Crisis

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  • Nixon Administration during Cuban Missile Crisis

    Apologies if this has been previously discussed. But I've always wondered how the Cuban Missile Crisis wpuld have played out if Nixon had won the 1960 election. He was a notorious hawk on Communism.

    Would he have attacked or invaded Cuba to get rid of the sites and get rid of Castro?

    Would the Soviets then retaliate on West Berlin/West Germany?

    Would WW3 happened because of it?

    Or would he have followed a similar course to Kennedy and get the missiles removed in exchange for missiles in Turkey?

  • #2
    Should be interesting as Nixon here would be without Kissinger.

    Now, have I not read that there were also tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba at the time and that the Soviet General had a free hand in their use if needed?

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    • #3
      From my understanding the Soviets had deployed frogs and given their local battlefield commanders discretion but I could be wrong.

      From what I understand, the Joint Chiefs tried working Kennedy to hit them with air strikes and then launch a follow up invasion to prevent it from ever happening again. I don’t see how they could ensure hitting all of them though, plus the longer range missile sites at the same time.

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      • #4
        The Bay of Pigs needs to be taken into account.
        If RMN had backed airstrikes, as JFK did not, would that have led to a prolonged conflict that might have interrupted Moscow's plans for missile bases in Cuba?
        Trust me?
        I'm an economist!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by tbm3fan View Post
          Should be interesting as Nixon here would be without Kissinger.

          Now, have I not read that there were also tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba at the time and that the Soviet General had a free hand in their use if needed?
          Nixon, was known for his foreign policy bonafides before he was POTUS. The Kitchen Debate with Khrushchev or the 1958 goodwill tour of South America. He certainly had a profound effect on the US. Taking the US off the gold stand, COLA ,EPA, Clean Water Act, Détente, War on drugs and opening the door to China. Watergate.

          Stephen Ambrose best work was his Nixon Trilogy.

          Not to underestimate Dr. Henry "South America, a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica" Kissinger.

          .Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power by Robert Dallek and Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan both excellent books.

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          • #6
            Nixon did get the US out of Vietnam. I wonder how he would have handle the Mayaguez incident.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Dazed View Post
              Nixon did get the US out of Vietnam. I wonder how he would have handle the Mayaguez incident.
              Mayaguez was a tactical blunder. POTUS would have made not difference.

              Mayaguez, followed some years later with Desert One in 1980 and then Grenada in 1983, caused a total relook at DOD and caused massive reform in the military, Goldwater–Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act.

              Nixon, Ford....hell, Abraham Lincoln of George Washington would not have made a difference!
              “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
              Mark Twain

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              • #8
                Originally posted by statquo View Post
                From what I understand, the Joint Chiefs tried working Kennedy to hit them with air strikes and then launch a follow up invasion to prevent it from ever happening again..

                The reaction of General Shoup, Marine Corps Commandant at the time, was interesting. He seemingly was adamant against a ground invasion.

                This is from "None so Blind: Planning the Bay of Pigs Invasion" by Peter Oxley

                “A smaller number of strategists and experts who were directly involved in planning voiced opposition or at least encouraged caution. General David M. Shoup was one who tried to remind the CIA of the practicalities of an invasion effort, and used maps and diagrams, rather than esoteric arguments to make his case. At one point, he managed to make an impression by showing a map of U.S. overlaid with map of Cuba. His audience expressed surprise when they realized how large the island is. General Shoup then overlaid those two maps with a map of Tarawa Atoll, which was a tiny dot in comparison, and pointed out that it had taken three days and eighteen thousand Marines to capture Tarawa (Halberstam, 1972, pp. 66-67).”



                From what I understand, General Shoup was not enamored of the United States involvement in Vietnam. Also of note is at this time the Marine Corps Commandant was not a regular member of the JCS, but only “consulted on matters concerning the Corps.” Wasn’t till the late 70s that USMC Commandant General Lewis Wilson became a full sitting member.


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                • #9
                  David M. Shoup commanded the 2nd Marines at Tarawa so he more than just anyone on the planet knew what he was speaking about regarding what it would take to invade Cuba.
                  “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                  Mark Twain

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                  • #10
                    Operation Northwoods. An interesting addendum to the above conversation.


                    An Audacious Plan for War With Cuba


                    By Samuel Chi
                    March 13, 2015

                    In March 1962, the Cold War was ratcheting up to its most heated moment, with the world on the brink of a nuclear confrontation. A major flash point was the island nation just 90 miles off the Florida coast, having fallen into communist hands after a bloody revolution.

                    The U.S. had tried to free Cuba from Fidel Castro's rule in April 1961, just three months after John F. Kennedy succeeded Dwight D. Eisenhower as president. The CIA-backed plan ended in miserable failure and the military brass was itching to have another go. This time, America would stop at nothing - not even killing its own citizens and soldiers - to provoke a war with Castro's regime.

                    Operation Northwoods was conceived by the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and presented to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara by JCS Chairman Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer on March 13, 1962. The plan called for various plots against American civilian and military targets, on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and U.S. mainland - by U.S. government operatives.

                    That's right. Using Americans to kill and maim other Americans and blame it on Cuba. Now, the idea wasn't terribly original when it comes to warfare. The Second World War was sparked by not one but two such "false flag" incidents - the Japanese at the Marco Polo Bridge in China in 1937 and Nazi Germany in Gleiwitz near the Polish border in 1939.

                    It was an audacious - and diabolical - plan. Operation Northwoods was nothing if not ambitious. It called for assassinations of Cuban emigres, blowing up a U.S. ship, staging terrorist acts in major U.S. cities, even going so far as blaming a potential space flight explosion - with John Glenn aboard - on Cuba.

                    The plan's mission would be "to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere." And the result would give the U.S. a pretext to commence large-scale military operations against the island nation.

                    Kennedy was apparently outraged by the proposal, as he promptly sacked Lemnitzer from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Lemnitzer's removal was perceived by the Pentagon hardliners as further proof that Kennedy was soft on communism, and their friction reached a crescendo during the Cuban Missile Crisis seven months later.

                    Though Kennedy had no stomach for Operation Northwoods and war with Cuba, a year later he did approve a CIA-backed coup to oust South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, who was executed, along with his brother, by the plotters. That removal of an allied leader dragged America into a full-scale war in Indochina, but JFK did not live to see it as he was also assassinated three weeks after Diem's demise.

                    Operation Northwoods remained buried in the archives until 2001, when its details emerged with the publication of James Bamford's "Body of Secrets." A few months later America would be hit by a genuine terrorist attack that claimed 3,000 lives, yet Northwoods would be cited by 9/11 truthers as evidence why it could've been an inside job.

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