Not to alarm anyone but…
On Thanksgiving, the U.S.A. marked the 55th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Two days earlier, Russia announced it may be forced to send nuclear-tipped missiles to Cuba, only 90 miles off the coast of Florida.
It’s déjà vu all over again.
You might say JfK’s two most lasting legacies are that he was assassinated, and he nearly got the U.S. into a nuclear war when Russian missiles were discovered in Cuba. Some say the two events were chicken and egg. Arguably, even not counting his mistresses of the month, Kennedy was the most reckless of presidents, which is saying something considering the robust competition for that title, right up to the present day.
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Back in the day, nuclear missiles in Cuba were legitimately a dangerous threat because the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were engaged in a fierce “cold war” that threatened to go hot at the drop of a bomb, so to speak.
Today, it’s unclear what we are to make of Russian missiles in Cuba, since the island’s communist dictator who was center-stage during the 1961 crisis, is now dead, and Russia is no longer the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but ostensibly a capitalist nation that prefers making money to making war, something it also is much less capable of doing today.
The reality is that in the early 1960s Cuba was deadly certain it needed Soviet missiles to detour a U.S. invasion of the island. It was a well-founded fear, considering the U.S. government under Kennedy and his predecessor Dwight D. Eisenhower both had authorized multiple attempts on Castro’s life, and actually were behind a disastrously botched invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs, organized and paid for by the CIA in 1961.
In contrast, the most noteworthy American incursion by a Cuban exile into Cuba in recent days was Los Angeles Dodgers baseballer Yasiel Puig, who returned there to dance it up in a nightclub.
Clearly the Cuban missile crisis that brought us within a blink of nuclear war in 1962 probably is not being repeated this season. We think.
Nevertheless, considering the leading players in this drama, it’s always hard to know what’s bluster and baloney, and what’s the real deal.
Vladimir Putin contends the U.S. is signaling it will back out of their joint nuclear disarmament treaties, as previous presidents have, and that it means American missiles will be stationed in Europe, not far from Russia. Putin says if that happens, he must retaliate in Cuba.
Then there’s Donald Trump, always capable of escalating tweet messages to red-alert status with the least provocation. Trump is miffed because he says Russia has been violating those treaties for years.
Predicting where this all is headed is problematic, at best. Most likely all that’s going on today is probably political theater and posturing. Probably. We hope.
Are bomb shelters still in vogue? Stay tuned…
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.