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Old 06-28-2020, 03:17 PM   #26
Mason Malmuth
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Re: Cuban Missile Crisis 1962

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Originally Posted by Former DJ View Post
A 1974 television docudrama, (i.e. "The Missiles of October" starring William Devane as JFK, a youngish Martin Sheen as RFK, and Howard DeSilva as Nikita Khrushchev), presented a fairly accurate portrayal of what went on during those 13 days. Compared to the actual events, the film was remarkably accurate in portraying the intense pressure both Kennedy and Khrushchev were under.

Ten years ago I had the opportunity to speak with the son of a military aide to President Kennedy, a naval commander, who had briefed EXCOMM on the capabilities of the Soviet missiles that were being installed in Cuba. (He had obviously discussed the crisis in some detail with his deceased father.) His father related to him that the pressure from "hawks" to proceed with a full out air strike and invasion was intense. The chief proponent of this "immediate air strike" option was Air Force Chief-of-Staff General Curtis Lemay.

In the 1974 "Missiles of October" television film, there is a vivid scene in which JFK and General LeMay get into an intense verbal confrontation over how the Russians will respond if we proceed with an air attack on Cuba? In the film General LeMay responds to the President: "They'll do nothing!" Remembering this exchange from the television movie, I asked the son of Kennedy's naval aide how accurate this portrayal [of General LeMay] actually was? Paraphrasing slightly, he responded, somewhat emphatically: "It was damn accurate! Curtis LeMay wanted to wipe Russia off the face of the earth!"

I read a book - "One Minute to Midnight" by Michael Dobbs - which is a sobering account of how the crisis played out. There were a number of events which occurred during the crisis which could easily have spiraled out of control. An example: Kennedy had ordered all routine reconnaissance flights flying near the Soviet Union be [temporarily] suspended for the duration of the crisis. (Kennedy did not want to risk one of the planes getting off course and straying into Soviet air space panicking the Russians into believing an attack was underway.) Despite this direct order from the Commander-in-Chief, an air force reconnaissance plane experienced a "navigational error" which resulted in the plane flying directly over Soviet airspace for a brief period. When Kennedy was informed of this, he made his famous comment: "There's always some SOB that doesn't get the word." (Khrushchev and the Russians must have experienced a similar panic when they were informed that Major Rudolph Anderson's U-2 reconnaissance plane had been shot down over Cuba.)

Considering incidents like these and several others that occurred during the crisis, we were lucky. Both Kennedy (and Khrushchev) remained calm and under control despite the incredible pressure both men were under. I shudder to think where we would be if something like the Cuban Missile Crisis happened today with Trump in charge

I have ordered a copy of Mason's "The History of the World from a Gambler's Perspective" book. As soon as I receive it, I'm going straight to the chapter on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Hi DJ:'

I remember watching the show "Missiles of October" on PBS a number of years after 1974. I guess it was a rerun but if it's still around somewhere it's certainly worth watching.

The chapter on the Cuban Missile Crisis is in the poker section of the book. I think you'll find our analysis of it a little different than what you usually read since we take into account the poker concept of "the threat of future bets." Hope you enjoy it and if you have any questions, discussion, or disagreement, I'll be following this thread.

Best wishes,
Mason
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