Sunday, June 27, 2010

One Minute to Midnight

One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War. Michael Dobbs

One Minute to Midnight, by Michael Dobbs.

This book was gripping more so becasue it was real, the world nearly did blow up in a nuclear armagedon. It is based on the Cuban misile crisis, which I'd watched a few movies on yet never read anything. The Soviets slipped in a nuclear missiles into Cuba, a stones throw to the US main land. Dobb's did a pretty good job pulling out a fair few things which have just come to light.

Now just a few reflections::

::It was close, but it wasn't the leaders that where the hot heads it was every one else with their fingers on the triggers.
For example the Soviet Subs had nuclear tipped torpedoes. The conditions in the subs where atrocious, the fumes, lack of space, been shadowed constantly by the US. One Captain who hadn't heard from Moscow assumed the worse when US started throwing dummy explosive depth charges and ordered the nuclear torpedo into action. He was eventually talked out of it!

:: Kennedy was trying constantly to think of alternatives other than the 'fist strike' at Cuban missile sites which his generals where all wanting him to do.

::The Russians had a lot of gear on Cuba, not just Nuclear weapons that would hit the US mainland. Tactile nuclear weapons which would have sunk any invasion force.

:: Communication was poor. Once official document to Moscow or vice versa could take over 24hrs. Often an official news was quicker! This was often the way the super powers communicated.

:: Thank God, George W Bush wasn't in power back then. Non of us would be around!

:: I've come to the conclusion that the opportunity to be a great leader dosn't come around often. It only happens in crisis. For John Kennedy, this was his moment, when his wisdon in the minority shone through retrospectively. The same could be said for Khrushchev the Soviet counterpart.
This could be contrasted to George Bushes response to 9/11!