Fifty years ago this week we almost went to nuclear war. We were in the middle of what is known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy, a Navy WWII veteran argued with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, especially Air Force General Curtis Lemay, that an airstrike against the missiles which Soviet Premier Khrushchev was placing in Cuba could start a nuclear war.
At the time we thought the missiles were not armed and Lemay and Marine General David Shoup and other Joint chiefs thought we could take them out with maybe only 18,500 American casualties
. Thirty years later in 1992 former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara met with his Cuban and Russian counterparts and learned that the missiles were in fact armed and that the commanders in the field in Cuba had authority to fire them if attacked
This would have wiped out most of the southeastern US, as nuclear war would have started with Russia, since Russia would have automatically attacked us in Berlin, Germany. If that had happened we wouldn't be here today chatting on Facebook or the internet, as both McNamara and the Russians somberly acknowledged in 1992.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, or more specifically General Lemay and like-minded Cold Warriors went on to get rid of Kennedy, since they thought he was a little too soft on the commies, (Read these books by James Douglass
and Doug Horne
) and we have been under military rule pretty much ever since, involved in wars starting with Vietnam which set the Pentagon back a little. But it and the military industrial complex rallied with Republican leadership into Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan...and now possibly Syria and Iran.
But Obama took us into Libya you say! When a country is being run by the Pentagon, it doesn't matter who is President, or which Party is in power. Last Spring Obama wanted to appoint General "Hoss" Cartwright as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Cartwright had been vocal in his opposition to the "surge" in Afghanistan, and was Obama's favorite. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and General Mullen overruled Obama. General Martin Dempsey was selected instead. The surge went ahead, as we know.
Anyway, the Presidential debates this season have been interesting. Romney wants to give the military more money. Obama wants to get rid of nukes. Good luck. Kennedy is looking better all the time, as the last President to buck the Generals. Which one of the current candidates can measure up to him?