It’s been 54 years since we experienced the fun, fun, pants pissing and pooping, paranoid times of October MADness, AKA Cuban Missile Crisis.
The strategic plan of the US at the time the time (and still is today) was called MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). It was a brilliant[sic] plan that in case of nuclear war both the US and USSR would make sure to wipe each other out totally and destroy the rest of the world as collateral damage.
I was born into a MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD world that was in an arms race to make sure we could destroy the world more times than the evil commies.
Beginning on this day 54 years ago, the situation became really insane for 13 days and things came close to degenerating to MAD. That’s right, the Cuban Missile Crisis.
I was eight at the time and I didn’t realize the intensity of the situation. But, I knew grown ups were tense. I also knew we were having many more nuke drills at school. A nuke drill is a lot like a tornado drill. Everybody kneels in the hallway facing the wall. You take sharp objects out of your pockets and take off glasses and cover your head with your arms. But the Nuke drill has an additional step, bending over to put your head between your legs to kiss your ass goodbye.
Since we lived between a B-52 base and the PanTex nuclear weapons plant, it was obvious the odds of survival was pretty low if the shit hits fan. Amarillo would get plastered. Kneeling in the hallway wasn’t helping anyone. But, everyone had to follow the official procedures no matter how useless.
So, what everyone was told was them evil Rooskies put nuclear missiles into Cuba, threatening the good guys, the USA. Well it’s true but not the whole story.
Cuba asked for missiles in reaction to the CIA’s Bay of Pigs invasion debacle. The USSR agreed because they they were a bit peeved about the nukes we moved into Italy and Turkey first. It seems they weren’t thrilled about our nukes pointed at them.
The US acted all upset that weapons were pointed at us, but kept quiet about the reason. We threatened them first. It’s hard to be noble and offended about a neighbor pointing a gun at you when you pointed guns at them first. But the US is the king of gall.
Now, the saber rattling Generals in the Pentagon wanted to invade Cuba to teach them a lesson. Hell, we did it before with Teddy and the Roughriders. But sanity prevailed. Good thing because we didn’t know the Cubans had tactical nukes to use if we invaded.
Once one nuke goes off it triggers a MAD response. If we nuked Cuba, the USSR responds with MAD. Just like War Games, any nuclear scenario ends up MAD with both sides nuking the other side into oblivion.
We were told we faced down the Rooskies and they took the nukes away from Cuba. It was never reported that the USSR backed down after we took our nukes out of Turkey and Italy.
MAD was narrowly avoided during those 13 days in October. But, there were many more that didn’t make it into the press. In one case the USSR came within 20 seconds of launching when they mistook a research rocket launch in Scandinavia for a first strike over the pole by the US. Fortunately a Soviet general called off their launches at the last second.
The moral of the story is: people we are dumb all over both then and now.
Dumb All Over