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Non-Sequitur – the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War October 23, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Basics, disaster, foolishness, sexual depravity, sickness, Society.

Finally, people are starting to get it.  I’ve never blogged on this before, I don’t think, but far from being the gung-ho Cold War hero the left has always tried to portray him as, John F. Kennedy was a bumbling idiot who gravely weakened the US defense posture viz a viz the Soviets and whose actions led directly to the disastrous US involvement in Vietnam.  Power Line has some thoughts on this anniversay, to which I will add copious comments, but first, a bit of preliminary history.

Why did the Cuban Missile Crisis happen?  We have to go back to the late 50s.  Eisenhower’s defense policy was masterful, he drove down US defense spending by reducing the Army to a thin shell (modern, mechanized armies being incredibly expensive) and using the policy of Massive Retaliation to insure the Soviets that if any of our interests were threatened, Ike wouldn’t hesitate to attack the Soviet directly in his homeland with the extremely power Strategic Air Command the Soviets had no means of stopping at that time.  The US possessed a massive advantage in strategic delivery systems (bombers and missiles), and with Ike, the threat was not empty.  The Soviet took him at his word.  Reduced government spending+the low levels of regulation, etc = one huge, long economic boom.

The democrats had held the White House from 1932 to 52. They wanted it back very badly. Like today, they were willing to do anything – lie, cheat, and steal – to get it back.  In fact, there is copious evidence the 1960 presidential election was stolen by LBJ in Texas and Daley in Illinois.  One of the areas in which the democrats attacked the Eisenhower administration and, by extension, his successor, Nixon, was that they had been lax on defense. They claimed first a “bomber gap” and then a “missile gap,” claiming the US lagged dangerously behind the Soviets.  Now this was a complete, utter joke – the US defense dominance under Eisenhower was the greatest in this nation’s history, and what’s more, the democrats knew it.  U-2 and satellite overflights had proven the US had a massive advantage in strategic nuclear firepower, and Kennedy and Johnson were read in on this intelligence.  However, they continued their attacks, claiming the policy of Massive Retaliation a failure and stating we needed a large, conventional army to provide “flexible response.”  That was the major platform on which Kennedy ran, aside from his completely false image of youthful vigor (the man was almost totally crippled by back pain and was a junkie, being shot up several times a day for “pain management”).  The problem with large, standing armies – sooner or later, you will be “forced” to use them.

In terms of defense and foreign policy, Kennedy was a dilettante and a nincompoop. His problem was, even after being read in on the classified intelligence programs that shot his “missile gap” theory to pieces, he still continued to believe his own lies!  Thus, when Kennedy met with Khrushchev in Vienna in 1961, he behaved as such a spineless ninny, with such fear and trepidation, that Khrushchev was convinced he could roll this feckless young man over left and right.  Thus began the building of the Berlin Wall and the whole associated Berlin crisis.  This was followed by the “crisis” in Cuba.  Now, picking up the Power Line blog post:

Today is the 50thanniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s nationally televised address informing the nation of the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, and his intention to make sure they were removed.  The Kennedy glorification industry has pointed to this episode as Exhibit #1 of JFK’s coolness under pressure, etc, etc, and the outcome has always been regarded as a great triumph of American statecraft.

To be sure, as Churchill once put it, “talk-talk is better than war-war,” but the conventional “lesson” of the Cuban Missile Crisis could not be more incorrect.  The view that that U.S. “won” the Cuban Missile Crisis has more lives than a cat.  In fact, the Cuban episode was an American defeat, and it contributed powerfully to the thinking that led to the Vietnam quagmire. [And even more, Kennedy’s nebbish, fearful attitude towards the Soviets helped pave the way for eventual Soviet strategic dominance by the end of the 1970s, which only Reagan extirpated]

In the conventional narrative, President Kennedy’s guarantee that the U.S. would not invade Cuba was seen as a small political victory for the Soviet Union, but on balance the outcome was represented as a military humiliation for Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.  The Kennedy White House heavily spun the outcome that way, even to the point of concealing for a time that Kennedy had also agreed to remove American Jupiter missiles from NATO countries.

Kennedy and his circle approached the crisis as though it were a “misunderstanding” that needed to be worked out through “communication” based on the new strategic doctrine of “flexible response.”  In fact Khrushchev had calculated correctly that he could bluff the U.S. into giving a non-intervention guarantee for Cuba and a trade of Soviet missiles in Cuba for NATO missiles in Turkey.  Kennedy and his grandmasters thought they had “won” because they had avoided war, even though the Soviets were never prepared to engage in warfare at the time. [Because we would have completely, utterly crushed them.  In fact, it is very possible the US could have totally destroyed the Soviet Union without a single Soviet warhead reaching the US.  Not that I advocate this outcome, it just shows how skewed the thinking of the Kennedy cabal was] The Crisis ended with Cuba being secured not only as an intact political asset to the Soviet Union, but also potentially as a military asset for the future.  Some “victory.”

But the best and brightest of the Kennedy-Johnson administration were so self-deluded with their “success” that they decided to apply the same strategy of “flexible response” in Vietnam.  Cyrus Vance, who was a deputy secretary of defense at the Pentagon in 1962 and who later served as Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of State, confirmed this view: “We had seen the gradual application of force applied in the Cuban Missile Crisis and had seen a very successful result.  We believed that, if this same gradual and restrained application of force were applied in South Vietnam, that one could expect the same result.”  Not!  [We all know how well that worked out.  The Vietnam war may never have been winnable, but it was certainly never winnable in the way the Kennedy/Johnson Administrations fought it.  And all that massive debt piled up in that war laid the groundwork for US competitive/manufacturing collapse and the dire straits of our economy.  They were so very, very helpful……]  

If, as Kennedy thought, wars start by “miscalculation” (one of Kennedy’s favorite books was Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, which argued that World War I began because of “miscalculation”),  [she was wrong, was a lousy historian, and incredibly boring to read]  then the task of leadership consists chiefly of sending the appropriate rational “signals” to affect the other side’s calculations about the chances of war.  During the heydey of this thinking, John P. Roche recalled, “Discussions of military security began to sound more and more like seminars in game theory.  There was a kind of antiseptic quality permeating the atmosphere; one often had the feeling he was attending a chess match. . .  The atmosphere made those of us who come from the harsh training of poker decidedly uneasy.”

In reviewing this whole period of liberal strategic thought, military historian Jeffrey Record wrote that Robert McNamara was “The most disastrous American public servant of the twentieth century,” combining “a know-it-all arrogance with a capacity for monumental misjudgment and a dearth of moral courage worthy of Albert Speer.”  

Boy, that last bit, I cannot agree with enough.  In serious defense circles, no one is more loathed than Robert Strange McNamara.  I know Vietnam fighter pilots, men of great dignity and respect, who have a loathing for this man that 40+ years has done nothing to diminish – this actually includes my wife’s uncle, who did 3 tours as a Marine in Vietnam.  They hate the man with a white hot passion, because his inept conduct of the war was directly responsible for the loss of thousands of American lives, especially the 3500+ highly trained aircrew lost over Vietnam.  The restrictions on the air campaign over Vietnam were the most horrific, ridiculous, and counter-productive ever seen in the annals of history.  McNamara managed to take what should have been an immense US tactical advantage – airpower – and turned it into a strategic liability, due to his inept handling of the air campaign.  In fact, McNamara had given up on air strikes being an effective tool within 3 weeks of the start of Rolling Thunder, and yet kept the campaign going – with the same ridiculous restrictions – for 3 more years!

I don’t agree with everything in the Power Line piece – the missiles removed from Turkey were not very effective and due to be removed, anyway – but the overall point is exactly correct.  Kennedy’s bumbling incompetence at the Vienna summit with Khrushchev set the stage for the Cuban Missile Crisis, and then his panicked over-reaction almost bumbled us into nuclear war.  The lunacy was, the great fear the Cuban missiles caused – because they were so close, they gave virtually no warning time, just a few minutes –  was replaced a year or two later by SLBMs launched from Soviet submarines in international waters the US could do nothing about.*  The entire thing was much ado about nothing, and was more an attempt by Kennedy to reassert his emasculated manhood than anything else.   I should add that the defense against the Soviet missile threat – from Cuba or anywhere – national missile defense, was always perfectly feasible and could have been effectively deployed from the early 60s on, but was shot down by McNamara because his “cost-effectiveness” studies didn’t reveal the numbers he liked.  So, he single-handedly kept the US from having a defense against ballistic missiles, and the left has insured that we still don’t have anything but a token defense – a total abrogation of the federal government’s duty to protect it’s citizens.

* – the US did have a defense against Soviet ballistic missile subs, our own attack sub force which would have decimated their “boomers,” but only after they had lobbed more than a few missiles at us.

Rant concluded!

The whole disastrous mode of “the government must always intervene” got started with Kennedy.  Plus, he started the official destruction of the Faith in the life of Catholic public servants.  I’d say, he needs a lot of prayers.



1. dallas - October 23, 2012

Along with his brothers…

2. Michael P. Mc Crory - October 24, 2012

No way you could be accurate on all counts here Larry. You have opened up a can of worms taking on ‘Pres. Kennedy’ the way you do but I am not ready to explain why just now.

I will add though:
It does seem to me to be a serious weaknnes of all Tradionalist thinkers that they just KNOW what they are talking about, (nomatter what the topic,) while the rest of just think we know.

For myself, I just wish I could be as sure about ANYTHING (excepting our beloved Church) as you guys seem to be about EVERYTHING. And I am one of your fans. And for good reasons too.

tantamergo - October 24, 2012

Before my conversion, I studied military affairs for years. Read the Fifty Years War by Dr. Norman Friedman. Sorry to burst your bubble, don’t mean to offend, but the image of Kennedy is the exact opposite of the reality. I know he means a lot to many Irish, so sorry for that. There are many other good books that really criticize Kennedy’s handling of defense, and especially, the nightmarish McNamara. Or I could try to hook you up with my friend Stuart Slade, if you don’t want to listen to me.

Kennedy did some good things as President (tax cuts, space program), but he was addicted to extremely strong pain killers and badly out of his league on foreign policy. Partly, he looks bad by comparison, having followed Eisenhower.

But fire away, if you will. I don’t try to be a know it all on all subjects, but I spent 25 years pouring over this stuff for hours a day. You should see my bookshelf!

3. Michael P. Mc Crory - October 24, 2012

It recalls a saying:

” A man may imagine he understands something but still not understand anything as he ought. ”
Again, humility.
But don’t let me discourage you from speaking up as you boldly do.
It is not guys like you and Michael Voris (but the catholics who sin by silence when they should protest), that have brought us to the brink and made of our Church “….a devastating ruin” — if that is the right phrase.

tantamergo - October 24, 2012

Well, everyone has their opinion, right? There are many who love Kennedy and his foreign/defense policy. I know I don’t hold what is likely the majority view. I’m also out there on deterrent and missile defense, things I think Kennedy got very wrong (based on very bad advice from McNamara). It’s ok, sorry to upset, I was ranting, I should have saved it for the radio, would have been a better topic.

Must read the Bible now!

tantamergo - October 24, 2012

I could write with more sympathy on Kennedy. McNamara, forget it, it’s all I can do to pray for the man.

4. Mike Minnis - October 28, 2012

Kennedy’s green light to those lusting after Diem’s job which led to Diem’s assassination destable Viet Nam and directly led to massive US intervention. Diem’s assassination was overlooked when Kennedy himself suffered the same fate.

tantamergo - October 29, 2012

YES! That’s exactly right. Diem was doing quite fine, and was in fact beating back the insurgency, but the Kennedy didn’t like his methods and began to undermine him starting when he entered office. So, a Catholic had another Catholic killed, to get this trouble-maker out of the way. Kennedy was always queasy regarding Diem’s methods, which were at times fairly harsh, but they were effective. There is a direct path from the election of Kennedy, to the killing of Diem, to US involvement – and involvement conducted in a haphazard, weak-willed, non-committal fashion. Kennedy tried to force Western means of conflict resolution on an Eastern problem, then, the entire war was conducted in that manner. It need not have been. But as I said in the post, that is the point of large standing armies – you have to use them.

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